You log into Facebook, and there’s THAT friend, the grammar expert. The well-meaning grammar cop who is on a personal mission to correct every grammar or spelling error, ever. The friend who would bring together the programmers who created Autocorrect for a workshop. We accept that person. We love that person, and sometimes we learn from that person. Some of us may or may not recognize ourselves in that person. I am not that person. Oh, no. I have a far more nerdy mission.
Science, Education, and Science Educationclassroom applications
I field-tested the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards assessment center exercises that make up Component 1, Content Knowledge, Adolescent and Young Adult Science, Chemistry. While I can’t tell you about the content, other than it was exactly as outlined here (Note: The documentation is not yet complete as the item review is still in process), I can tell you about the testing experience and give you some hints on scheduling and taking the assessments.
The assessment has 2 parts: Constructed Response and Selected Response. The Constructed Response section has 3 “exercises.” You have 30 minutes to complete each one, so allow yourself 2 hours and 15 minutes at the testing center, including arriving 30 minutes early to check in. The Selected Response section has approximately 45 Selected Response Items (SRIs) to be completed in up to 60 minutes. Here’s my experience. DISCLAIMER: This was a field test. There may be changes before the actual roll-out. There may be differences in the test center check-in and process. Read your own cert area directions and test center protocols carefully.
This is the year I organize the lab.
Teaching kids to work efficiently and keep their work area neat is pretty intuitive. Washing glassware, however, is not. I’ve outfitted every station with a small plastic bin that contains a sponge, a towel, and a spray bottle of table cleaner provided by the custodial staff. There’s nothing to clean glassware. So, I added a medium-sized test tube brush to the can in each cupboard, and placed a salt shaker (2/$1 at The Dollar Store) filled with Alconox in each bin:
Alconox is my glassware-cleaning detergent of choice, when a cleaner is needed. Students usually wash their own glassware at their lab benches. They will dump a handful of Alconox in one beaker when only a sprinkle is needed. The shakers are about 12 cm tall, plastic, easy to refill, and yes, they are color-coded to match the table color scheme.
Update, November 24: Working quite well.
Thirteen years ago, I was in Ohio, teaching a class of Chemistry students to set up their lab books for our first lab.
(Some of my current FB friends were in that class…) when our principal, Dan Griffin, announced that a plane had struck one of the World Trade Center towers. Then, in disbelief, we listened as he announced that the second tower had been hit. I had only one old, slow computer in my room, but all the news sites were too jammed for us to get any information. As I struggled to find words to calm my frightened, confused students, Mr. Griffin announced that a third plane had hit the Pentagon, and that all three flights had originated in DC. A student, white-faced (you know who you are) stood up and said, “My mom was flying out of DC this morning. I need to go to the counselor’s office.”
Mike was having his hip joint scoped a few blocks away at the local hospital. When I went to see him during lunch/prep, I caught a bit more news. As he awoke and saw the TV in his room, he thought he was watching a horror movie. We kept hearing about terrorist involvement.
Our thoughts then turned to our younger son, Geoff, who was in basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood. Although we didn’t get to speak to him for the next few weeks, somehow, we knew there would be a consequence for him. We were right.
A hundred-plus lab books bear the start date of 9/11/01. Thousands of families, and our entire world, were never the same again.
*I stole this photo from a friend’s Facebook page. If it’s yours and I’m using it wrongly, please let me know and I’ll take it down.
We are asked to teach 21st Century Skills – Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Creativity, Communication and Citizenship, to name a few. The last two schools in which I’ve worked have advisory classes. The point is career education and the relationship-building that increases chances for student success. We do prescribed career activities. We do grade checks and students reflect on their progress. I’ve been through many iterations of advisory during my tenure in 2 schools in 2 states over the past 10 years; and we are not yet sure what shape I’ll be getting a brand-new batch of grade 9 lambs this year, and I intend to help them become as successful as possible.
To support these skills, and state/district/building career-related activities and relationship-building activities, I’d like to suggest we consider the following possibilities for valuable use of advisory time:
Digital Literacy, Part 1
I see two components to Digital literacy. The first, easy component is establishing some accounts and learning to use current tools. At our school and in my classroom, as a minimum, these would currently be
- Google apps including Blogger,
- Prezi, and
My building has dabbled in Project-Based Learning. A part of our work, an authentic audience is important. It’s amazing how the quality of students’ work becomes a big deal to them when they know it will be seen by others.
As digital portfolios become important, students could maintain their portfolios easily in Google sites, and later transfer them to a personally owned account. The advantage to Evernote is its portability and flexibility with media. Evernote could be used for quickly storing info from recordings, links, photos and clipped images such as those students take of their lab work and whiteboarding adventures (see Plagiarism, below) and drafts of projects and work. Many teachers ask students to use Prezi, and class/project time is used just setting up an account and learning the app. Prezi could also be a platform for the digital portfolio. Many classes, particularly art, also use Blogger for photoblogs.
Digital Literacy, Part 2
Safety and etiquette. That is all. No student may publish anything in my class to a public account with his/her name on it without parent permission, signed, and in my file.
Plagiarism: It’s not just for English class anymore.
Students must learn to vet every source they use for licensing. Creative Commons wasn’t around when most of us were in college, so we first need to learn the ropes. Wikimedia Commons is a great starting place for images. Google Search now offers the capability to find usage rights (in search, select images > search tools > usage rights and then follow the rights granted for your intended use.)
As 9th graders, perhaps a look at the cost of a cell phone contract, fast food, and driving a car, including a look at the good driver discount they get on auto insurance for keeping a B average. By 10th grade, looking at how to budget money from a part-time job, including savings, and the cost of college. By 11th grade, a look at taxes and more college costs. As seniors, they need to be looking at their actual expenses vs income after graduation. And then, there’s my personal beef that we’re teaching kids there’s actually such a thing as “good debt.” Hello.
There are others, of course. What are yours?
I want this:
Okay, maybe not this particular library. I want access to my Ball State University Library account; the account that went away a year or so after I was awarded my EdD.
These accounts cost money. All the while I was a student, I paid $50 per semester for this access. It was heaven. I could read almost anything anyone wrote about science, education, or science education, whenever I wanted. After I moved across the country while writing my dissertation, I could still use this access. I loved this privilege. My students and colleagues benefitted from my learning. But now, access is gone. It’s expensive; I understand that. Certainly, Mr. Gates, there must be a way for you to fund this. Mr. Duncan, your pledge to support quality teaching and learning at this conference in March certainly includes supporting educators as we search for and share best practices.
I can get this, from Ball State; this, from The Ohio State University, and this, from Wright State University. The best any can do is access to ONSITE services. I now live 2400 miles away from these universities. In the digital age, this shouldn’t be an issue.
What might you be willing to do to support this request? How could you work together with universities to allow teaching alumni to access their resources?
I’ve been pretty amused by the mania to turn our science and math curricula into “STEM.”
My path to the science classroom was unconventional. I took my Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from The Ohio State University straight to a chemistry lab. I used atomic absorption spectroscopy, gas chromatography, and Kjeldahl digestions to analyze everything from the protein content in alfalfa to pesticide residues in soil. I had to be creative. I had to invent things. I had to mess things up, to do things that didn’t work, and then I had to make them work. Then, I ran the quality control department in a food production facility (human, this time.) If someone had gotten sick or died from consuming our product, I would have been responsible. I got pretty good at creative troubleshooting. I left that job when our first son was born. A bit bored, I joined up with 3 other scientists and a salesman to start a company. We collected soil and crop samples from dairy and hog farmers, analyzed the samples for nutrients, and then manufactured custom fertilizer for the soils and nutritional supplements for the animals based on the feeds they grew. I remained a partner until our last child was ready for preschool. I was at work until about 4 hours before his birth. I returned to work with baby in tow when he was 5 days old. But I digress. And, by the way, was any of this STEM?
Here’s what I’d like to have instead of an instructional coach:
Yup. That’s right.
I want an assistant. Not actually an assistant for demos and teaching, although that could work. I want more of a, well, lab manager.
I worked every possible angle to attend the T&L conference, but it’s not in the cards this year. I was very disappointed that I could not attend,
and then I saw the email about Bill Gates as a speaker. I’ve been a long time supporter of NBPTS, having certified in AYA/Science in 1998 when the certificate was first available and renewing in the 2006-2007 cycle. I’ve supported initial cert candidates and renewal candidates, having written the renewal workshop materials for Washington State (WEA). I am working hard to promote certification to potential candidates in Oregon. I was watching the revisions as carefully as an outsider to the process can watch, and was very much hoping that the process would maintain the rigor and standards I’ve known since 1997 when I began the process. Associating Bill Gates with our profession, no matter how much money he might give, has alienated a good many potential candidates and has many of my NBCT colleagues across the nation questioning whether they will bother to renew. We do not want anyone who is not an educator in the position to offer financial incentives for following their decisions about what they believe is best for our profession and our students. I don’t remember a time I’ve been so disappointed in the direction my profession is taking, and it’s not my nature to watch in silence as it’s destroyed.
With that in mind, below is my letter to Bill Gates as he prepares to address my colleagues at the National Board Teaching and Learning Conference on March 14, 2014.
For years, I struggled with organizing student lab cupboards. Way back when, we had enough basic lab equipment for each student pair to have their own stocked, locked drawer. At my most recent school, we do not. Two pairs of students are assigned to work at 1 table. Each pair has their own cupboard. Each cupboard is, however, shared with 5 other classes, both biology and AP Chemistry.
Putting things away is not my strength. It’s a challenge to get students to do so, particularly when they are not solely responsible for their equipment. I’m not particularly disturbed by clutter from student work. It is frustrating for students to have to search the lab to find a needed beaker that someone forgot to put away. The goal is for students to have what they need so their work goes smoothly.