Twenty Teachers, and Arne Duncan

I had the opportunity to view an important movie this week. I’ve seen it once before. Both times, I watched with a group of the finest educators I’ve ever met. The movie was especially hard-hitting for us because we’ve shared their journey, their tears, and their triumphs.

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Title IX in Engineering?

The misinterpretation of Title IX with respect to student gender quotas in university engineering departments on Joanne Jacobs’ blog yesterday received a bit of discussion Saturday on Twitter. Jason said, in reference to the post,

and then Bryan said

Jason replied, and @druinok responded:

 

A little later, this tweet popped into the conversation.

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Becoming an Accomplished Teacher

This post was inspired by a Twitter conversation with @GetUpStandUp2 and @kiwigirl58 in which I learned that Randi Weingarten,

John Dewey in 1902

John Dewey in 1902

president of the American Federation of Teachers, stated in an interview with Walter Isaccson, (described here in the Atlantic) that teachers should have to pass a bar exam. This bar exam would not be merely a test,but would also have a “clinical component.”  The discussion, which eventually included a few remarks from Randi, focused on how we might improve teacher quality. Then, @Nancy Flanagan of Teacher in a Strange Land inspired me to actually blog again. (If you’re not following these people, you should be.) Here are my thoughts, as one who’s been developed professionally in a number of ways, on becoming an accomplished teacher. Stay with me here……

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Renewal and Professional Growth

I’ve just spent an exhausting, invigorating day with 36 of Washington State’s finest teachers.

This group of teachers, all National Board Certified, are in their eighth or ninth year following initial certification. In order to remain NBCTs, they are faced with the task of renewing their certificates.  Most look forward to this process with residual fear and trembling from their initial certification experience. As one who completed the renewal process fairly early in its evolution, Washington Education Association asked me to develop a facilitation protocol and workshop to support NBCTs through the renewal process, so I did.  And that’s where I was today. Here’s why it’s the best path to growing accomplished teachers. And here’s why it’s the very best renewal, ever.

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Scavenging For Science

Many years ago, I needed something engaging for AP Chemistry students once their exam was over.  I found a scavenger hunt, hard copy as this was the olden days, handed out by the late Dr. Cliff Schrader at a conference.  I’m forever grateful to Cliff for so many things he gave out freely to anyone who asked.  Among so many other things, he taught me to share.

I reworked the list a little to reflect some things my students knew or in which they had shown interest.  The first few years, the kids worked in groups and competed to see which group could collect the most items the most quickly.

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Will I “Flip” my Classroom?

Truth is, I already did. Years ago.

About 2 years into my career, I figured out that if students arrived in class already knowing something about the day’s learning, they took away a deeper, more satisfying, understanding. We were able to use class time differently, in ways that helped us learn more authentically.

I did not need standardized tests, value-added evaluations, or clever new names for the method to figure this out, by the way.

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Adoption, 2012 style

I’ve worked in 5 districts in 23 years.  Our current adoption will be my 4th experience. The availability of electronic delivery and open source materials have added interesting options to our decision-making. First, I present lists and links to content, including sources for inquiry and engineering design resources. I’ve saved my thoughts on devices until the end.

Please comment including any other resources you’d consider if you were us.  Also, please comment on individual resources if you have experience or thoughts that might help us make a decision.  This list does not include all of the traditional hard-copy textbooks and support materials we’ve been sent.  I don’t want this post to take a year to read.

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Crystallization of a Supersaturated Sucrose Solution

Research: Solutions

Recipe:  Supersaturated Sucrose Solution

Response: Documenting the Process

Results: 

Writing and the Lab Report

Oregon requires students to complete an inquiry work sample (here’s the one we will use this year) at some time during high school.  Our classes function on an inquiry basis at some level almost daily.  I’ve played with many strategies to help students write about their work in a manner that facilitates their learning while documenting their work in a manner that survives the scrutiny of a scientific peer review.

Most recently, I’ve incorporated the work began with Linda Christensen (from Lewis and Clark) and the Oregon Writing Project. Freshmen begin keeping all lab and inquiry work in a bound theme book, AKA fondly as “my lab book.” My vision for the appearance of student lab books has morphed over the years.  Some things change very little, though, because good science is good science and good science writing is good science writing. At my current school, I’m blessed with like-minded colleagues who have helped me refine my vision as it is shared in this post. Here’s our current plan…..

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