Regardless of the hours spent planning, revising and tightening up plans, talking the plans through with the co-instructors, there will always be one of those days that brings to mind the quote from a Robert Burns poem: “The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ men/Gang aft aglay”.  Check out what Wiktionary has to say about this phrase at :

 http://http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/best_laid_plans

It is Thursday, so the group gathers before class for an hour seminar.  Seminar is meant to enhance and support the work done in all of the GRS core courses.  Our “fearless leader”, April, has joined us again for the second seminar of the summer (the first, Nuts and Bolts I, was last week).  We met at the bridge overlooking High Falls.  The “As you Enter” assignment was to meet with your investigation group; make observations of High Falls; to list questions inspired by the observations; and jot down some talking points about the work the group did in Tuesday’s class (goal; plan; findings).  The groups were sent out to do exploring.

When we re-grouped, each teams shared their

  • Goals:  find out what types of data we could collect on sight, and which we could collect later; naming and identifying limitations in order to design investigation accordingly; play around with all of the equipment to familiarize ourselves with how it could be used.
  • Findings: idea of still vs. flowing water had different characteristics; access to water at various locations changes.

April was tasked with sharing ideas about blogging. This is what she offered..think about what you are trying to do in a given blog. Are you trying to persuade; connect to self, others, society; empower others to try new things; inspire; record transformations in your knowledge and attitudes; enlighten others; make science accessible beyond self, to name a few.  Think about and record your thinking about what it means to be an agent of change, what change work do you wish to accomplish, and how will you go about doing it?  What does it mean to be a reform minded teacher? April shared these tips: author catchy titles… to lure others in; build a sense of community by reading and commenting on each other’s blogs and inviting folks to read and comment on your blog.  Be creative.  She also suggested that we use the “featured image” option, so that our work would be featured on the home page of the GRS site.

From blogging, we segued to Portfolio talk.  We start out every year, looking at the portfolio requirements, stating the due date (first Monday in August 2016, for this group) and strongly suggest that every assignment gets coded to an NSTA standard or a Warner School Proficiency. We do this for several reasons… one, it is one of the two summative assessments for the program, the other being edTPA. Another reason, by starting now, the job of writing and assembling your portfolio in a year from now is less daunting. We looked at two NSTA standards and noted that the Science Investigation and paper for EDU 487 would provide evidence for having met those standards.  We looked at Warner Proficiency 9 and noted that signing up for NSTA, STANYS and list serves in our Cert areas would help with that requirement… a reminder to fill out and bring that paperwork to seminar the next week was given.

For Closure: 3-important “to do” take-aways from today’s session; 2-new thoughts on blogging that occurred to your as a result of today’s session; 2-question that you may still have about today’s topics.

We left High Falls and regrouped at Maplewood Park. We talked a bit about Kelsey’s Landing,  a departure point for slaves escaping to Canada.  Then Mike led the group to the top of Upper Falls and over to Middle Falls.  Along the way, folks took pictures, made notations in their journals about both their observations and questions those observations raised. When they returned, we had a quick discussion of the readings.  Daniel asked the group what they thought about the idea of “useless” experiences (which paper towel picks is best, etc). He questioned the label and asked if others were bothered by it.  Dan added that in the Chin reading, a similar point was made, but went on to day that devoid of explicitly talking the the processes, that yes, those experiences could be called useless. Sharon liked the idea of revisiting work over time, adding/revising it as new experiences were had.  Ella wanted to go a bit further with Dan’s idea.  She said that it was not just explicit instruction that was necessary, there needed to be a two-way conversation with students and teacher with teachers as the guide or facilitator of the conversation, not the final authority in the conversation. Tingyu said she thought it was important to value student questions and their point of view. This was an idea she was considering in a favorable light as she felt that in the past she had not always done a good job of giving her students the chance and scaffolding needed to ask questions and present their point of view. Ian liked the distinctions made about the types of questions. Sean had the final word. He challenged everyone to think about all of these pieces as ways to push thinking, give feedback that would foster a growth mindset in our students.

From Maplewood Park, we went across the Driving Park Bridge and headed to Seth Green Drive.  We took a walk through time.  The gorge cuts through layers of rocks that, if you speak rock, tell quite a story of the area’s past.  These rocks formed starting 450 million years ago at the bottom of a shallow inland sea.  The variation in rock type and thickness record the regressions and transgressions of this sea.  The Genesee River has graciously cut its way through these layers giving us a glimpse into the past. This is my favorite picture of the group (so far)… taken at river’s edge just below lower falls.

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Back in the cars, headed north, and hiked at Turning Point Park… lots to see and explore along the bend in the river there.  Here is another favorite picture from there.

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Just before getting into our cars and heading back to campus/home, we finished with a closure…what did we learn…. many comments focused on the sharing of science with the folks we met along the way.  Ella’s closing remark about being open to the science around you and to sharing it with others was a great way to end class!

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