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Monthly Archives: February 2016

When we think about differentiating lessons, we probably take into account two major groups of people: ELLs and students with disabilities. But how do we differentiate lessons well enough such that students aren’t losing content and are still getting the same experience, just served in a different way? An overly simplistic example of this would be which comes first – the cereal or the milk – when you’re making your breakfast in the morning? Neither is wrong, but some people do it one of those two ways because that it what makes the most sense to them and what they are most comfortable with.

This blog post is to follow up from Monday’s class, and to get more ideas about how you’ve differentiated science lessons in particular. You’ve all seen my ideas in three different classes, those with varying degrees of ELL and disabled/special education, so I would love to hear more specifically about the ways you’ve differentiated your lessons in your respective placements.

Chandra data (above, graph) on J0806 show that its X-rays vary with a period of 321.5 seconds, or slightly more than five minutes. This implies that the X-ray source is a binary star system where two white dwarf stars are orbiting each other (above, illustration) only 50,000 miles apart, making it one of the smallest known binary orbits in the Galaxy. According to Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, such a system should produce gravitational waves - ripples in space-time - that carry energy away from the system and cause the stars to move closer together. X-ray and optical observations indicate that the orbital period of this system is decreasing by 1.2 milliseconds every year, which means that the stars are moving closer at a rate of 2 feet per year.

NY Times Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/12/science/ligo-gravitational-waves-black-holes-einstein.html?_r=0

Just in case you missed it, this is a massive deal for astrophysics, physics, and the understanding of the origins of our universe alike. Skeptics of black holes, be gone (hopefully you’re not still a skeptic of general relativity, as your usage of a GPS would dictate you are a believer [or I suppose don’t know the science behind your GPS, and if that’s the case: http://www.astronomy.ohio-state.edu/~pogge/Ast162/Unit5/gps.html).

Perhaps astronomy will win the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics (if this doesn’t get it, I’d be interested [read: peeved] to see what does).

 

giphy

Before I talk more about the difficulty of being a white teacher like myself, with my background and my experiences, I wanted to discuss some of the rapport I’ve built with my students.

Today, I was asked by one of the LE students if I would be here after break. I explained that I would, and that I wouldn’t be leaving until after the break at the end of March. She immediately replied, “Do you have to go?” My heart melted, and I told her that I’d be able to come and visit. I then asked her if she liked that I was here, and she told me, “Yes, you help me a lot and you make me understand.”

It’s really fascinating to see the impact difference between middle school and high school – middle schoolers build relationships with people so much more quickly with others, and I’ve been able to already clearly have a positive impact on some of them. They are more forthright about this impact as well, which is super appreciated, because they don’t hold back the feedback they’re going to give you.

I’ve made an impact and someone already wants me to stay for the rest of the year, even though she’s known me for only three weeks. This has probably been the most rewarding part of middle school, that they are able to be upfront and relatable to you, rather than not give as much feedback like high schoolers do. It’s interesting, and their personalities are so much more variant. Middle school is teaching me that it’s not always about the science during classes, but rather, being a relatable, respectable teacher that will have an impact on these kids for them to succeed in the future.

 

gene

In Race, Class, Gender, and Disability in American Education class (classes used to be named so much more simply…) this week, we were tasked with developing a self portrait that explained the aforementioned topics in the title of the course as well as our sexual orientations. I took a hard, introspective look at the first two, both of which are probably the most toxic of the story I told about myself.

My educational experiences at the post-secondary level do not match my class in the slightest. I come from a very urban area, where in reality, I was a minority student. But in the educational settings I go into, I am introduced as a student at the UofR, one who has two science degrees and wants to teach science. But I’m also white. There is a large stereotype about UR students that are white – all came from high middle class or upper class backgrounds, and don’t have any idea how to treat students of minority. My story, however, is different. The only thing white about me is my skin, and therefore I haven’t had to go through the systemic racism of different settings. But I’m not upper middle class; I’ve worked insanely hard to be where I am right now. But let’s go back to my introduction to students – white and from the UofR. They don’t see the struggle I come from; they don’t see the success story. This is just another white kid that had things handed to them in life.

I’m struggling with this especially in middle school. In high school, I was able to explain to them my story and they were very receptive and came to appreciate my story not from the lens of a white kid, but through the lens of an inner city kid that escaped the drowning vortex that oppresses city students. The middle schoolers, however, are not as receptive to this. They see me as the young white teacher from the UofR. A genuine question that I’d love to get feedback on is how do I get it across to them that I’m not an enemy, and how much I want to see them escape the inner city system. Unfortunately, because of my being at the University of Rochester, I have yet to find someone with a similar experience to mine – a white kid from the deep city, and that makes it very difficult to find someone to relate to, in terms of both economic class AND race, rather than just one or the other.

I’ll have more to say about this next week; for now, while I think more about an approach to this problem, I’ll leave it here.