Science, Education, and Science Education

classroom applications
October 8th, 2011 by Luann

Scientific Habits of Mind ?

This past week, the high school and middle school science teachers came together for collaboration.  Apparently, collaboration hasn’t happened in a while in this district.  The high school teachers to whom I’ve spoken were pleased with the work we accomplished together.  During our conversation, we decided to compile a list of skills and tools we want to foster in our students (How will come next.)  Below is a whiteboard image summarizing our thoughts.

Direct from the whiteboard, courtesy of our principal


It’s clear that we were brainstorming.  Our ideas jumped from broad, general skills such as “predicting” and “graphing” to general big ideas such as structure/function and patterns.

We have some questions.

What’s missing?  What doesn’t belong?  What needs to be rearranged?

August 23rd, 2011 by Luann

First Day 2011

Beginning my 23rd year in the classroom, I still get a bit nervous that everything will go well. I walk through each class at least 20 times in my head and tweak things until the last minute.  Classes begin on September 6.  Every day except for 2 until them, I have meetings or some random duty, or prep work scheduled.

My goals for the school year are to bring more relevance to our learning, better help each student reach his/her potential, and to do so without working 23 hours a day and all weekend. This partly stems from the stress last year of finishing the dissertation while starting a new job.  I was either teaching, grading, planning, writing, crunching data, moving, or sleeping, in that order. (I ate while working on something. Couldn’t figure out how to work in my sleep.) I’d like my classes and my life to move at a pace that allows time for reflection and revising and laughing at least a little.  And I never, ever want my desk to look like this again:

Here’s my first day so far:

Learning Targets:
1. Science: Remember that? (A little science on the first day never hurt.)
2. Learn roles and protocols for group work (because 9th graders usually don’t know what to do in a group.)
3. Explain what we will learn this year, why and how we will learn it.

Read the rest of this entry »

August 14th, 2011 by Luann

Collaboration, Lab Work and Student Roles

Group Roles

Neurology Students in Berlin, a long, long time ago.

My introduction to assigning student roles in group work came in 1994 at a Project Discovery summer workshop. I didn’t question the value of this practice. More experienced teachers and university professors shared their expert guidelines.  As teacher participants in the workshop, we used these canned roles as we worked our way through canned labs intended to inspire student discovery. They appeared, we decided, to be a pretty effective method for managing students in lab settings and for facilitating student communication about their work. The checkpoints added strategically to canned procedures helped me check for understanding while students were working.

Read the rest of this entry »

April 10th, 2011 by Luann

Data and Truth: The Story Behind the Scores

Every dataset has a story. We usually look only at the data and ignore the story. For example, according to my original findings, and as approved by my committee of esteemed researchers in education and science, I could make this statement:

Pre-service elementary teachers showed a statistically significant gain in their learning about the moon and teaching elementary students about the moon by inquiry.

And this supporting statement:

The study shows that pre-service teachers average gain scores from pre-test to post-test increased by 7 points on a 21-item test.

If this were taken as the only finding from my dissertation, these pre-service teachers obviously demonstrated significant learning. All is well.

But wait.

Read the rest of this entry »

April 3rd, 2011 by Luann

Under One Big Sky: Finished.

The journey is over.

47,556 words, 200 pages. Defended.  Paperwork filed.

Crashed with my sons, daughter-in-law, and grandsons.  Called husband.

I’m now Dr. Mom, Dr. Gramma, and Dr. Dear.

And sitting in the airport waiting for a flight back home, I feel a bit lost and empty.

Maybe I’ll have something to say about it later.  Maybe not.

September 24th, 2010 by Luann

Fixing Broken Assumptions

Brokentruck by Luann

I just began year 22 of classroom teaching.  My goal is never to become one of those “old” teachers, sneering at innovation while pulling an ancient worksheet from a dog-eared folder. I’ve asked younger colleagues to alert me should they observe these tendencies in my practice.  I actively seek and provide a variety of professional development for myself and my colleagues.  I’m active in various professional learning communities. My paper and electronic files are pruned and revised regularly.  And I listen to students, with a focus this past year on the learning skills of a particularly interesting class of intentional non-learners.  You know the type.  They enter the classroom with their minds on everything else; pencils and paper, it they have any, remain in their backpacks. Their faces say, “Teach me.  I dare you.”  They have little respect for anything, often including themselves.

Read the rest of this entry »

July 15th, 2010 by Luann

Attention Elementary Teachers:

I’m analyzing data from pre-service elementary science teachers who are working on an inquiry learning project.  I’m a bit surprised with the results.  Before I share, I’d like to hear from some elementary teachers about your current teaching of science and your teacher preparation program.  What do you feel you teach really well in science?  Where and how did you learn to do this well?  In what areas do you most want to grow?

I can’t wait for your comments.  In the meantime, I’m back to data analysis.

October 13th, 2009 by Luann

Books for Kids

A meeting today in our district made me aware of 3 things:

  1. Our K-5 kids need books.  Informational books, storybooks, any books.They have no books to take home to read.
  2. Our K-5 teachers don’t have any science materials.
  3. Our K-5 kids, many of them anyway, are reading way below grade level.
  4. We have nearly no intervention materials.

Here’s my plan:

Read the rest of this entry »

August 18th, 2009 by Luann

Quote for the Year

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
Steve Jobs
US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 – )

Sometimes, a little attitude can go a long way.

July 19th, 2009 by Luann

Ten Ways to Raise a Non-scientist

Awhile back, I read a list of 13 ways to raise a non-reader.  If you know where I might have read it. please let me know so I can give credit where it’s due.  The list inspired me to create a lost of 10 ways to raise a non-scientist.

Read the rest of this entry »

%d bloggers like this: