Thursday, January 14, 2010

Prep 4 College

A feel good moment today. Former student Vanessa M. stopped by to say that A&P class prepared her more than any class for her Human Biology and another science class. Hooray! This is good. I often wane between changing the class to be less traditionally structured and keeping it as an intense, fast-paced, lecture course. Not that it can be explained that simply, but essentially it is.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

An Unusual Match Up? Not anymore!

Without realizing it, I have entered an entirely new world this semester. The most beneficial thing accomplished (for both my students and me) was working with our media specialist, Kathy Kaldenberg. She is nothing short of amazing! Not only did she provide ideas and lessons for me, she took the time to give feedback to students on their article reviews. I don't know where she finds the time to manage three buildings, get into classrooms, and help teachers such as myself with developing and implementing specific, special projects. I feel so lucky to have worked with her this semester - perhaps an untraditional match-up - and discovered her vision of the "new" role of media specialists in schools. My only regret is not recognizing this sooner. You see, the signs were all there. She sends links to cool stuff, has the best MC webpages I've come across, and has always been willing to step in and assist with materials or procedures such as accessing the AEA on-line resources. Needless to say, now I know! Kathy is responsible for extending our learning through her expertise with technology, resourcefulness, and willingness to reach out and get into the classroom. I just can't wait for the next projects we get to whip up together.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Science Fair Student Reflections

Opposite group was really loud once they got done in the first round (clusters). One group was still presenting. More organized - faster, judges were there on time. Do it on a Friday. Nice to have broad range of judges - broad range of perspectives.Good that there was a diverse question base. Nice to get feedback and encouragement from the judges - really made it feel good that we put so much work into it. Super-finalist round present just once. Don't do on separate night (super-finalist round).

On procedure, make sure judges know how much work you put into it. Try to challenge yourself. Go outside the box. Do procrastinate!!! Have a lot of picture to show results, too. Do something you're interested in - easier to talk about. Research - do the research! Judges will ask you about it.

More smaller check points. Multiple rough drafts. Too fast to have topic. Less time for experimentation. Additional ways to gather experimental ideas. Do something with equipment. More examples - boards, tests, papers, - showing level expectation. Lots of rushing...what can we do about that?

Log as binder vs. tape in. Can tape in...they are divided. Give them choice?

Snack for students.

Judges were better, more friendly, more interested in experiments. Would ask questions before presentations were done. Laughing when messed up. However, need to ask questions when done. Students want feedback when done.

Docked if presentation too long. Liked the computer system. Distracting when writing...

Spread out more - still a lot of talking over other presenters.

MW had a judge that told her she tested the wrong thing.

More time to pick topic. More check ups. Once a week. "Fake" check ups or un-announced check ups.

Less time for experimentation, more time for paper, display, etc.

Some data collected - by due date, Closer to trial run.

Fake data. Issues with ... Change check in sheet. Bold - something more specific.

P/T conference needed.

Parents check in daily??? Or every time they work. Spreadsheet check off? (Mrs. S). Time in/time out.

Weekend between paper and board.

Weekends were beneficial.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


It was one of those worst moments. Disappointment in myself...

A student comes in after school needing a science fair project. This student had one to begin with but didn't do it. Then was instructed two weeks ago to go see our physics teacher for a project. A project was provided. Not done - no data as per the due date Friday. Talked to the student again yesterday about the fact that without the project they would fail the quarter. So, today we go down together to the same teacher for another project idea. Mission accomplished. The one twist was we couldn't find a stopwatch to time the drop of the balls. "Can I just go home and do this?" the student asks. My response was no. "Why not?" I tell the student, "because you've already had two projects you haven't followed through with." Needless to say this turned into an argument that led to the student walking out very upset. I followed out of the room and attempted to get the student back on track and to understand my perspective. The student says, "You just don't understand." I say, " You're right. Help me." To no avail. The student left.

Contacted one of the parents. It was a really good discussion. Why is this science fair project such a big deal and so much of their grade? Don't you have opportunities to learn about the nature of science through lab activities and such? What can be done now?

We discussed the student coming in tomorrow after school to test with the project due by the end of the week.

Tonight the whole situation haunts me. What happened? When did it turn bad? Why didn't I recognize frustration before it got to the point of being beyond wanting help? Should I have pestered the student more about the project in the first place? What do I do and say when this student walks in the door tomorrow? Will he/she hate science now? The quarter ends tomorrow and I may never encounter this student again - little opportunity to work on rebuilding trust and respect between us.

Although the student will be still be able to complete the project, I can't help but worry about the intangible impact of this.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Neurology At It's Finest

Wonderful experience with two neurology residents from UIHC in anatomy & physiology. They talked about their careers, medical school, health care reform, and decision making. The most interesting part was actually after school. It was good to see a student had cornered one of them and was asking questions. But also, somehow, things fell unexpectedly into place. The psychology class had dissected sheep brains today first and third blocks. There happened to be a left over brain and the remaining parts still out in the room. This provided an opportunity for the two residents to sit down and prepare for dissecting sheep brains as scheduled for Thursday. Neither had seen sheep brains before. The two of them tinkered around with the brain and its parts, comparing to the human and thinking through ideas for what to focus on and what would make it fun and interesting. I dropped in occasionally, but it was really the two of them working out balancing their knowledge and experiences with what high school students will understand and be engaged in. It was like getting a peek into a whole other world. I am so grateful they took the time to talk with the kids and then to sit for an hour after to work out a plan for the next time. Very cool!
Trying something new today. The Statistics class (3rd block) is going to provide feedback for the Biology students on their science fair project tables and graphs. I am so excited. This is a long over-due collaboration. Instead of a checklist I came up with some essential questions to be answered by the statistics students. Matt helped me condense the list. I hope the students appreciate each others' work and see the real world value in the process.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Impressive Turnout

I committed to coming in to school today. Yes, it's a Saturday. Sixteen students showed up. Some had experimentation to finish, others working on tables and graphs. It's nice that students are willing to come in. I even got some thank yous as they left. It has worked out really well for either Jenny or I to be here a couple of hours on Saturdays this fall. I have been in 9-11am most Saturdays and Jenny comes 11-1. I hope we can continue to work it out. Students are taking advantage of the extra time and resources. It's great to have the computer carts available, too. I don't what I would do if we didn't have the mobile labs.