Out of everything I have tried, failed, kept, modified, or threw out during my transition to 3-dimensional science learning, my favorite piece has been requiring students to construct explanations. This has also been (and still is) one of the biggest struggles for my students however it is such an important piece that it will forever be a permanent process in my classroom. It may take 6 months to the whole school year to see growth but it is worth it. Continue reading
Repulsive electrostatic forces. Strong nuclear forces. Charged subatomic particles interacting with neutral subatomic particles. Stable nuclei contain a “magic” number of neutrons and protons, otherwise the nucleus will decay.
Students will act like they understand these terms by attempting to memorize the definitions, and all the explanations written down in class. And that’s the problem…students memorizing information and not actually learning the concepts. Subatomic particle interactions has always been a complicated concept for my students. I’ve done graphing, picture visuals, number analyzing, lots of stuff that is supposed to work. Yet it’s always a lower scoring portion on quizzes and tests.
Picture this: A perfectly planned investigation, no unusual chemicals to hunt down, eager students, no complaining, and all actively writing down their science thoughts……sound too good to be true? It is, but maybe not for the reasons you’re thinking.
Two weeks ago I wrote a post about introducing my students to 3-dimensional learning using the investigation “Reaction in a Bag.” Now that all my quizzes are graded I’ve decided to write the reflection over how my students did with 3D learning, the thoughts of my two teaching peers who taught this way for the very first time, and what’ll I’ll do better next time (and not just next year “next time”).
The shift to 3-dimensional learning in science education not only means teachers need help and time to adjust, so do our students! How do we ready our students for this change? What’s the best way to do this? I’m not sure but I’ll tell you how I’m going to do it. Before my classes start diving into chemistry concepts I’m going to have them do an investigation in which the focus will be developing the skills necessary for using science and engineering practices (SEPs) to explain crosscutting concepts (CCCs). This way when we begin chemistry concepts we have a reference point. The disciplinary core ideas in this investigation are (hopefully) review for my students (matter is made of particles and energy flows). To do this, I’m going to take an old lab (Reaction in a Bag) and refine it to fit my needs. You’ll find everything below!
Teaching students how to “do science” using the old, linear scientific method is not truly reflective of how scientists study the world around them. The scientific method gives a false sense that there is a step-by-step process for how to approach research, including moving from analysis to conclusion without ever reinvestigating, retesting, and revising. Science learning is not a rigid process, it is much more fluid. What is a closer method for teaching science? Inquiry! Sometimes I think this word is used so much that it no longer sounds like a real thing. Inquiry is simply an act of asking questions to gain information. Science education researchers have been looking into how inquiry fits with science learning since the early 1960s when Bob Karplus and J. Myron Atkin published a paper based on “guided learning” or more known as the Learning Cycle (Rebello & Zollman, 1998). Guided learning focused on exploration, invention, and discovery, and was mostly used at the elementary level. Over the next 30 years, educators noticed the lack in formal reasoning skills among secondary and collegiate level students so began applying the learning cycle at the upper levels as well. There have been many different models developed but all are based on the original learning cycle. One of the more common models used at the secondary level for science education is the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) 5E Instructional Model (5Es) lead by Rodger Bybee in the 1980’s. The BSCS 5E Instruction Model consists of 5 phases that all begin with “E” (imagine that 🙂 ): Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate (Bybee et. al., 2006). See the diagram below for more information about each phase. Continue reading
This summer I was able to complete the most challenging professional development I have ever attended and it has transformed my teaching forever. Very rarely do I come across the opportunity to attend a PD that focuses on both instructional strategies and science so when my District was approached about attending this PD I was excited! BIG THANK YOU to OKC Public Schools for bringing this amazing opportunity to teachers in Oklahoma! My teacher friend (and fellow OKSci Leadership Alumni!) is trying to bring this PD to the Tulsa/North Eastern area and I truly hope she can. Science education is changing, not only in Oklahoma but all over the US. This change is going to be hard. Teachers are going to need help with this transition. PD, like the one I attended, is going to be an important part of this process. For teachers that can’t attend PD I hope blogs like mine can provide the support they need. While I’ve done a short review of Moulding’s book, “A Vision and Plan for Science Teaching and Learning,” this post is going to focus on a short description of 3-Dimensional Learning and my interview with Brett Moulding. My posts this summer will then focus more on the 3D framework and provide examples and other links for more information.
Looking for a great, (and cheap!) local conference this summer? Don’t miss out on the joint Oklahoma State conference hosted by Oklahoma Science Teachers Association, and Oklahoma Council of Teachers of Mathematics. There will be 40 amazing presentations from local teachers to choose from AND lunch on site!
The Conference is Friday, June 10th and is located in Tulsa, OK. Cost is $15 and you can register here or register on-site at 8am. First presentation session begins at 8:30am.
I hope to see you there!
Imagine a classroom of fully engaged students, using technology to create an interactive 3D environment with a regular piece of paper. Sounds crazy and expensive right? Nope! Not only can it be done for FREE, nearly every student already has the required technology!
It’s called augmented reality: the ability to manipulate one’s perception of reality with a computer device (including cell phones!). Students are not only excited about it, they will actually WANT to do their work! I discovered this amazing resource at a local EdCampScience event. If you haven’t been to one of those, you are missing out! EdCampScience is a professional development opportunity led by the teachers that attend. Each session is dependent on who is willing to share, and the great thing about this event is that everyone wants to collaborate. To me, that is the best type of professional development. Continue reading
New year. New goals. One of them being more blog posts, so welcome to Science Sundays! Each Sunday I’m going to write something about science, and classroom activities, instructional strategies, or current events!
This week’s topic will be: Catalyst Investigations! I felt this should be the first ‘Science Sunday’ since my last post was all about the stress of implementing labs and it’s only right to write about the great parts too 🙂
The slow-mo video below shows my students testing a gas that is produced when hydrogen peroxide and potassium iodide interact:
The glowing wood splint reignites as it interacts with the gas being produced by the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide (into water and oxygen gas). While I used this lab to study catalysts, it could also be used for learning types of reactions!
The trouble with lab is…said to the tempo of Kelly Clarkson’s song “The Trouble with Love Is.” Don’t know the song? Here ya go…
What’s got me singing the lab blues? Exhaustion, frustration, and well my belief that it will be better next time. We all know students can’t wait to do a lab. They beg for them starting day 1, “Mrs. J, when are we going to do a lab?” “Please can we do a lab?” I have 3 preps this year (Chem 1, 2 and college prep) so my Chem 1 classes have seen the set up for the others and have been particularly eager.
Last week the time had finally come for my classes to do a lab….all of them….at the same time….over multiple days. (Side note: we’ve been doing labs all semester but I’ve been able to stagger them….unfortunately not this time) To say the week was stressful would be an understatement. First, I want to say I work with amazing colleagues who help with set up when they can, but even with their help managing three different labs was a bit much. Chem 2 is working on Collision Theory and the conditions that affect reaction rates, CP Chem is beginning heating and cooling concepts, and Chem 1 is focused on mixtures, solutions, and chemical/physical changes. The only thing these labs had in common was a ring stand lol If you’re a teacher that has to set up labs I don’t have to tell you about the amount of time required to set up for ONE lab, let alone three! (It’s HOURS, for everyone else) Thank you Ryan Reynolds for knowing my pain….