My name’s Daniel and I’ll be your captain for this June 11th class recap. Now buckle up and enjoy the ride!
As we’ve done every thursday for the past 4 weeks, at 3:30PM SHARP, the Get Real! Science summer seminar began.
A lot was done, and a lot was said during our hour together, but the focal point of the discussion was on the 2015 8th Grade Intermediate Science Test (See picture below). Each of us shared our experiences in taking the exam, and our thoughts about the test. Here are a few thoughts by some of my classmates (Quoted as best to my scribing ability):
Daniel: I don’t think my dad could pass this test
Sharon: The images didn’t always contribute to the understanding of the question
Tingyu: A lot of the physics on the test was just math. Much of the bio seemed to be “common sense” that could be learned outside a textbook.
(In response) Sharon: Did you lookup Chinese translations for some terms?
Sharon: That speaks to the difficulty for ELL students
Ella: What are they trying to test???
Some of the answer I can figure out by using test taking skills (exclusion skill)
Ian: Tests knowledge of vocabulary meaning, NOT the process and how it functions.
Afterwards we spent some time going over the core curriculum and looking at how the test questions specifically addressed many of the key ideas, performance indicators, and concepts listed in the curriculum.
April and Jo Ann also spent some time recognizing our good work so far, but I don’t think you all need to see that to believe it 🙂
At 4:50 SHARP (ok it was 4:52), we moved into EDU487, Integrating Science and Literacy! Of course we began with a few activities
(What do you do at the beach???)
(Factor mapping practice)
Dr. Michael Calzi and Jo Ann then led us through a discussion on our own little summer book reading, A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park.
We discussed themes of the book, leadership, knowledge, enacting change, courage, perseverance.
Jo Ann’s favorite quote from the book, and incidentally mine as well, was “Bit by bit, one step at a time.”
This spoke to me a lot because I know for myself, in looking at all that is ahead of me and my cohort members in the upcoming months with GRS, it can be a bit overwhelming. HOWEVER, that does not mean we’re gonna stop, it does not mean we’ll let ourselves burn out. Instead, we’ll work together and take each challenge “bit by bit, one step at a time” until we’ve walked those metaphorical miles and reached our goals.
We also spent quite a bit of time discussing the application of a text like this in our science classrooms. As we’ve read in quite a few education publications, it is incredibly important to INTEGRATE science and literacy and to present information in a variety of modalities to reach as many students as possible. This book, and others like it, demonstrates a clear tool that can be utilized in the classroom towards demonstrating to students the nature of science through language accessible for all.
With all of this in mind, Dr. Michael Calzi then took the lead and took this idea of intertwining science and literacy to a whole new level by reading us a passage of one of his favorite book, Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan. I hope I can speak for all of my classmates when I saw I was moved by the words of Carl Sagan. He asserted that we are but a dust particle in the solar system, and that “on a scale of worlds, humans are inconsequential.” Dr. Michael Calzi further described the book explaining the idea of a near Earth asteroid diversion system and the complexities and ethical dilemmas that kind of technology may bring into our world. Moreover, the great doctor explained how he incorporates the book into his classroom teaching demonstrating another way we can integrate science and literacy into our classroom learning.
At this point, the third member of the Triumphant Teaching Trio (trying out a new name for those 3), Dr. Sean Coffey walked in. With this change, we moved onto a discussion of infographics.
What is an infographic you ask? Well if you click on that blue hyperlink it’ll shed some light on the subject.
We spent a bit of time analyzing a few different forms of infograph and came to the understanding that they are a different way to present information in a logical, clear way incorporating many visual elements to represent data and explain away complex ideas and observations. Of course, we then attempted to incorporate this style into our own investigative designs. Team Superior Vena Cava was very accomplished in this regard, and the other team did well too. (Kidding – we all did a great job)
Having come to the conclusion of that exercise, we moved into our reading discussion. Below is an as close as possible depiction of the discussion:
Tingyu: (Gee) Video games can be used to teach science, but how to you prevent addiction to those games which can be harmful to the body and mind
Sharon: It was more so an example of experiencing learning in a new way that will engage students in their learning
Ella: There are a lot of ways video games engage students and could be utilized in teaching science. For example, one could design learning activities through Minecraft!
Ian: There’s just something different about how students engage in gaming
Daniel: (Driver) Switching gears, learning comes about when students enter a state of disequilibrium. We have to challenge students previously held perception, so they can reform their ideas. (Trefil) Science is an entry ticket into a wider debate of sociopolitical and ethical issues. We have to change the way students think about things. (–I talk a lot)
Sharon: I want to play with your (Daniel) language. I don’t think its about changing their minds but rather letting them understand that their preconceived notions run parallel with science ideas.
Sharon ended this discussion by prompting us with the idea that learning is socially constructed, meaning we must engage in the practices to learn them. This being the case, it feels like we’ve done the process backwards, gaining theoretical knowledge without anything to apply it, followed by application without simultaneous instruction in theory. Drs. Coffey and Calzi came back with some inspiring words. It will all make sense when you actually get there, it didn’t hit me until I was almost done with the program and then it clicked — Dr. Coffey. “You can’t heal a gunshot with gauze…” (Phish quote — click on it for a more thorough explanation!) — Dr. Calzi, in discussing the importance of this theoretical knowledge explained how you don’t get another chance to gain this theoretical foundation. Other programs spend so much time discussing classroom management strategies and behavioral intervention but don’t spend any time focusing on the grounded theory that should be informing all of our practices in teaching. When you see a teacher who doesn’t know why they’re doing what they’re doing its obvious, and its unfortuante. Warner is one of a few places where you really get this theoretical foundation and you’ll (the cohort) appreciate it and go back to it time and time again when we get into our student teaching and our start in teaching in the years to come.
(I hope I did that justice)
After all of this rigorous discussion we split into groups and worked on our investigative design projects, planning, inquiry mapping, writing, and collaborating to figure out the logistics of the upcoming few weeks of madness.
Well folks, I hope you enjoyed the ride. At this time, you may unbuckle your seatbelts and move about the cabin. This was quite a journey so don’t stand up too fast or you may get lightheaded.
It would be impossible to accurately represent a Get Real! Science class in just words, pictures, and even videos. You’d need to sit in the room to really get an idea of the madness and fun of the program.
So finally, with all that we’ve covered, I’d just like to remind all of you to do what???