Mock Interviews

On Monday I was lucky enough to experience three “mock interviews” with administrators from local school districts. I was pretty nervous going into the night because I wasn’t too sure of the format. I had the opportunity to interview with three different people and each of them had a unique style.

I really enjoyed the mock interviews which I honestly didn’t think I would ever say. The energy was much different than a traditional interview; I think this helped me enjoy the experience and not be super stressed out like I normally am. The interviews were both formal and informal. Each person that I interviewed with brought a set of questions that they use in the actual interviews for their district. One of my interviewers stopped after every two questions to provide me with feedback and the other two provided me feedback after all of the questions had been completed.

The feedback portion was my favorite part of the night. I’ve interviewed a few times and left wondering how I did and what I could improve but you never really get the opportunity to ask that type of question in a professional interview. That’s why this experience was so beneficial; I was able to respond to the questions and then receive direct feedback about what I did well and what I should change.

One of the most powerful moments during one of my mock interviews was a piece of feedback suggesting that I tell more about myself as a person instead of focusing solely on my teacher identity. There was a question about hobbies and my interviewer told me I sounded so excited (and like a real person) as I was telling her about my passion for baseball and how I travel to a new city each year for a game in search of reaching my goal of visiting every stadium. There was also a point in the interview that I mentioned I had done gymnastics for about seventeen years. After the interview was done, the interviewer told me those were her favorite parts to hear; she advised me to add these interests to my resume because people love seeing how well rounded the candidates are and what their interests are outside of the work place.

Another really cool thing happened in that same interview because of me sharing my interest in baseball. The interviewer came up with an amazing idea to use in my classroom. She told me every couple weeks in my classroom I could talk a little bit about baseball (showing my students some of myself) and a city that I had traveled to see a game. In each city I could either visit or research chemistry related labs, jobs, or individuals that could share something beneficial to the students in my chemistry classroom. I thought it was such a unique and relevant way to introduce my interests into the classroom. That might get a student who normally isn’t a fan of science to be interested if he or she is interested in travelling or baseball.

I’m so thankful that I was given the opportunity to participate in the mock interviews; this was definitely one of my favorite classes in this last semester. The feedback I received is something that I truly value and I think will greatly help me in my pursuit for a job for the coming school year.

The Last Day

It’s almost been an entire week since completing student teaching so I’ve had a while to reflect on my time at my last placement. I want to talk specifically about my last day. I had many things to get ready for my last day because I really wanted to do something special for each one of my students. I also wanted student feedback so I decided to pack this all into the last day.

After each student finished their test, I handed them a survey explaining that it is an anonymous survey to give me feedback. Many of my students put their name on it despite me saying anonymous with the explanation that they wanted me to see what they wrote (which is adorable). The survey had nine questions total; six used a rating scale and three were open ended. The rating scale was from one to five with one meaning never and five meaning always. The questions asked about the student and me as the teacher. Below you can read the actual questions that I used on the survey. The first six used the rating scale and the last three were the free-response questions.

  1. I am usually well-prepared for class.
  2. The assignments made sense to me.
  3. I felt encouraged to participate in class.
  4. I got clear answers to my questions in class.
  5. The teacher treated students with respect.
  6. The teacher managed class discussion well.
  7. What was your favorite thing you did in science while Miss K. was here?
  8. What was your least favorite thing you did in science while Miss K. was here?
  9. What suggestions do you have for Miss K. to be a better teacher?

Reading over the responses to these surveys was my favorite part of the last day. The suggestions that my students wrote for the last question were really insightful. I had some students tell me to keep doing what I’m doing, some tell me I’m too nice and I give students too many chances, some tell me I give too much homework and many more responses. Student feedback is so valuable and I’m very glad I took the time to give every student a survey on my last day.

I also decided to write each student a personalized thank you note and make everyone a goodie bag with all sorts of candy and a pencil (I had to do something teacher-y). I handed the thank you notes and goodie bags out as soon as I had everyone back in the room and they were finished with their test. As I was handing them out to each kid, I heard them all asking each other what I wrote in their card. They were all surprised to find that I wrote something different in each person’s card. For the students that I saw every day, I was able to remember something they said, whether it be that they play basketball or they practice the guitar. My students were shocked that I picked up and remembered these little details. It was such an amazing feeling seeing all of their faces light up and smile as they read what I wrote. I wanted them to feel special because I felt special every day I was given the privilege to teach and get to know them both as students and young men.

Four of my students even brought me something for my last day! One of them would be very happy to see my new, “#1 teacher” keychain hanging proudly from my car keys.

The Wall of Awesome

It’s official, we have hit the wall of awesome. I literally can’t believe that I am done student teaching. What’s even crazier is that the next time I’m teaching, it will hopefully be in my own classroom. I think I’m equally excited and overwhelmed which is usually how I feel about most things.

I am so thankful to have had such a rich learning experience at my last placement. My placement was challenging but with the amazing help of my CT, I felt like I was up to the challenge in constantly trying make myself a better student teacher. I keep telling everyone how shocked I am that I enjoyed middle school. I thought I was going to hate it coming from a chemistry classroom but the middle school age is seriously so much fun.

I had such a fun last day with my kids at my placement. I gave them a test (which many of them complained about but hey I need the data) and after they did an exit survey for me and I made them each a goodie bag with a personalized thank you card. On the exit survey my students kept writing that the school should hire me; there is no better feeling than hearing your students say that! Their test results were great and that’s really exciting for me. Now that I’ve finally completed my unit on evolution I feel like I can really attack my innovative unit. Before I do that, I’m going to take a day to do absolutely nothing because I’ve been waiting for this wall of awesome for what feels like forever.

Now that I’m done student teaching I can finally focus on my own school work for warner. I figured I would give you guys my to-do list in hopes that it might help you make one of your own.

Jill’s Non-Student Teaching To-Do List:

  1. Innovative Unit
  2. edTPA
  3. Keep applying for jobs
  4. 2 cert exams
  5. Missing Jo Ann assignments
  6. Portfolio

This isn’t necessarily in order of importance (I would never put Jo Ann last!!), just a general order in which I’ll be working on things. If there are important assignments that I’m missing from my list please please please let me know!

I’m not sure if you guys had that edTPA day while I was on vacation… but I’m sure me and Jess will be working through that at the same time if any of you want to join!

Oh and congrats to everyone on finishing up student teaching!!!!!!!!!

Inquiry-Based Labs

I am actually on vacation and I am actually relaxing. It feels like it has been so long since I’ve said either of those words. Even though I’m on vacation it doesn’t mean that I’m free from Warner =(

Our last assignment put the readings about inquiry-based labs into practice. I decided to edit a lab I had already done at my first placement. During our unit on chemical reactions, Jess and I made a lab to investigate the difference between endothermic and exothermic. The lab was pretty successful and the students seemed to enjoy it but in retrospect it could have been MUCH more inquiry-based.

While revising the lab I decided to use a method from Colburn’s piece about making lab activities more open ended. I decided to remove the step-by-step procedure and have the students, with lab partners, determine the procedure they would use to test whether a reaction was endothermic or exothermic. While removing the procedure and writing instructions for what the students need to do before they begin investigating, I realized it was an excellent opportunity for feedback and revision.

I made a checkpoint in the lab after the procedure had been written so that I could check the procedure. I put in a small section for plusses and arrows and then the students would have to go back and revise their procedure before starting the investigation. I think this would be a powerful process because the students are receiving formative assessment on the spot and being given the opportunity to do something with that feedback that came from the assessment.

Also, instead of giving the students the necessary tools in a lab basket, I would have liked to set out the tools available on the back counter. This can give a greater sense of ownership to the students because they all are not restricted to the same procedure using the same lab tools. It would have been really interesting to see the different procedures and tools used by students. When you think about it, not all students learn in the same way, so why not give them the opportunity to mold a learning experience into one that can be most useful for that individual student.

I wish we would have gotten this assignment earlier in the year because I would have liked to try and implement a lab that had been revised and edited to be more inquiry-based. Inquiry-based lab experiences provide students with so many authentic learning opportunities. I really want to start off my year introducing the skills for conducting an inquiry-based lab. If the steps are scaffolded and practiced in the classroom from day one, a lab experience with open-ended questions, missing data tables, or no procedure might not be intimidating. It is my goal to make labs of this nature a staple in my classroom, maybe not all of them all the time my first year, but I definitely plan on taking baby steps to modify labs to make them a more powerful learning opportunity for students.

Here is the original lab and revised lab:

20150330InquiryLabKramerJv1

I hope everyone is enjoying a little bit of a break!

Oh, and happy birthday, Eric! =)

The Clash of the Claws

Tuesday was wild, but in a good way. Tuesday was the “Clash of the Claws”. Originally I was supposed to do the Clash of the Claws on Wednesday but of course nothing can ever go as planned. I only had a slight freak-out when I had to go home after class on Monday and make all of my edits to what I was doing the next day. Thankfully my CT met me at school earlier than usual so I could have plenty of time to setup and relax a little bit.

The biggest hurdle for this entire day was definitely the materials management. There were SO many materials that needed to organized, passed out, taken away, etc. Again, I am thankful that my CT was more than willing to help me with just about everything. I’ll talk about the setup of the day and then how the day went as a whole.

At the start of the period, we looked at a picture of about 30 different types of crabs. I had my kids observe the variations present in the crabs. I used this to bridge into the actual activity where I explained that we were all going to be crabs in the Great Barrier Reef. I modeled how to use the different type claws (spoon, chopsticks, and popsicle sticks). The students were allowed to use two hands, holding one claw item in each hand and they brought the two together vertically, to pick up the food. Originally there were four rounds but in two of the three classes I cut it down to three rounds because almost all of the crabs had evolved to spoon claw crabs so the point had been made.

There are 12 tables in my room so two kids sat at each table and they received a plate of food and they each had a cup that represented their mouth. After each round we would look at the Great Barrier Reef on the Smart Board to observe how it was being destructed. After a chunk of time (each round) the reef had been getting worse and worse and would lose one food source each time. The starting plate had rice, cheerios, pasta, and cotton balls and the ending plate had just rice.

The students had SO much fun on Tuesday and despite this activity being crazy, I had fun too. After each round, I would strategically pick a number of points that the crabs needed in order to survive and when the students found out they had died off they would all be angry (but not really angry). It was really fun for me to see how passionate they were getting with the activity. After all of the rounds and the majority of the students had died off and became spoon claws, we discussed a summary of the activity as a whole class. I asked a few students to explain what they observed happen to the different types of claws as the Great Barrier Reef was being destructed. In all three classes, the students were able to connect the environmental change to the decrease in food and then to the change in claw type.

I found that my learning target was seriously my best friend during the Clash of the Claws. My learning target for the day was “I can model how changes in the environment can cause changes in a species over time.” Throughout the day, I found myself using the learning target more and more. It was very natural to connect our environment as the Great Barrier Reef and the changes that were occurring in the environment to the changes that were happening to us, the crabs, as a species. I thought that making the explicit connections from the lab activity to the learning target really helped the flow of the class, the story of the lab, and helped the students understand why we were doing what we were doing.

My favorite part of the day was an idea that my CT gave me right before my second class. He told me that it would help to get the students’ attention after a round if I told them that they needed to go to sleep after each feeding. For the next two classes, when the lights went off after each feeding, claws went up into the air and mouths went closed. It was so much fun watching all of my kids short their “claws” up into the air when I turned off the light. My CT even pretended he was a shark after I turned the lights off to go and catch the crabs that weren’t sleeping who were still trying to eat. Despite the craziness and the amount of organization involved with the Clash of the Claws, I’m really happy I didn’t get too nervous to try it out. Doing this activity really helped me feel more confident in my ability to lead a class through such a detail-orientated activity.

One more thing: a few of my kids, as they walked out of the room, whispered to me that they had a ton of fun. That was an amazing feeling; to hear my students tell me how much fun they had in my science class.

I attached the documents I used for the day. The first one is what I gave to the students to organize data and it has the questions I asked them to answer to analyze what happened in the lab activity.

20150324ClashoftheClawsKramerJv1

The second link is to the PowerPoint I used to help guide the activity. I also had ocean sounds playing in the background to “set the mood”.

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1RY14oEJRkViw3S_BIQBMeiKNl-N9QDw31Wm74z1jyNY/edit?usp=sharing

And here are some pictures from the day:

ClashoftheClaws1 ClashoftheClaws2 ClashoftheClaws3 ClashoftheClaws4

Some Thoughts on Literacy

A few discussions and experiences I have had this week pushed me to think about literacy and how it is incorporated in my classroom. During Monday’s class I think we all agreed that it is crucial that literacy be a part of our job as science teachers; it is not something that students should have experience with only in the ELA room.

On Wednesday, we had a “final” genetics activity that was the end of our unit. It involved figuring out a “puzzle” in a way to determine what genotypes a dog breeder needed to use to guarantee a certain feature in a dog. I chose corgis and I presented my students with a situation in which a local dog breeder was guaranteeing short legged corgis but the customers were receiving about a fifty/fifty mix of long legged corgis and short legged corgis. I wanted my students to determine the genotypes and use a Punnett square to guarantee short legged corgis. I also had them predict the genotype the dog breeder was using to get the incorrect mix, also using a Punnett square.

The genotype, phenotype, and Punnett squares were considered part one of the project. Part two involved writing a letter to “civil court” demanding their money back because they received a long legged corgi. I provided my students with a checklist of items they needed to include in their letter.

Writing this letter was easy for a few students but a challenge for the majority of my students. Many of them were instantly unengaged when I told them they’d be writing a letter. Many of them struggled putting science into words or putting a complete thought into words.

After reflecting on this day, I started thinking about some of the discussions we had in class on Monday night. I don’t want my kids to hate reading and writing. I want them to embrace literacy because it is a skill that can take them very far no matter what they choose to do in life. I plan on using literacy practices in my classroom on a regular basis. I don’t want them to be frustrated when I introduce an activity that involves writing; I want them to be so familiar with writing in my science classroom that they aren’t surprised or intimidated by an activity with writing.

They are already expected to write. Bridge and summary include writing and the students are comfortable with that; I wonder if it’s because it is such a rigid routine. If other types of literacy are used often in the classroom, I wonder if the students will be more comfortable with these different ways of learning.

I have also been thinking about how collaboration can help to decrease the student anxiety and uncomfortable feelings with literacy. These experiences and skills should be seen in all content areas. All types of literacy should be found in all types of classrooms. I feel like collaborating with other teachers to help tackle this issue can really introduce a variety of ideas to seamlessly include literacy. How have you guys been using different literacy practices at your placement and how do your students respond?

A Quick Formative Assessment

Last week’s readings and class focused on assessment. I feel like this is something we’ve been talking about a ton in class and it’s something that really interests me. We always discuss ideas of formative assessment and why it’s important and valuable. Topics this week also had a little bit of assessment talk intertwined with the presentation. I was really interested the questions we had to rate that dealt with formative assessment.

On Thursday afternoon, I was looking through the “Build-A-Bear: Genetics Edition” mini project I had my students do that day. As I was looking at the four different Punnett Squares they had to make I found a group of about 7 students that were not combining the alleles correctly inside of the squares. I was looking through these papers during a study hall of sorts and 5 of the students were in the study hall. I made a list of the students that were struggling with the Punnett Square and I decided to use this as an opportunity to take formative assessment and do something about the results.

I sat down with each of the 5 students, independently, had them do a Punnett Square and then we talked about what we needed to change. Most of them were crossing the wrong alleles in the second column of the Punnett Square. I drew a graph and asked if they remembered how to draw a point if I gave them the coordinates. All of them we able to find the x and y point and meet in the middle. I used the same process to show them that you take the allele on top and meet on the one on the side depending on the box you are trying to complete. This seemed to help most of them see what they were doing wrong. After having a very brief “mini, refresher lesson” I had the student draw another Punnett Square. Each one of them created the Punnett Square correctly the second time after we had gone over it again.

Right after I finished sitting down with each of the students on my list, I sat down and told Jess, “Wow, this might be the first time I formatively assessed and then did something with the results.” It’s exciting to actually do something that we’ve been discussing and reading about so often in class.

The students received a homework with more Punnett Square practice for homework and I’m excited to see how these 5 students do on the homework when I compare it to the Build-A-Bear activity. I’m really curious to see if the brief time I spent with them independently will help correct a slight error in the construction of Punnett Squares.

I want to get into the habit of actively formatively assessing my students and then really doing something with the results. We’ve talked about many different strategies for formatively assessing students but I don’t think I’ve ever planned it into a lesson. I was thankful to have been looking over papers from the day and in a study hall with my students. I want to start planning detailed ways that I will use formative assessment in my lesson. I think this will help me get more comfortable with formative assessment and increase the amount that I use this type of assessment and do something with the results.

There was one prompt in topics that asked us to rate ourselves on how seamlessly we use formative assessment in our classroom. I’m not sure how many years as a new teacher I should give myself, but I want to make it goal to be at least a 9 on that scale of how confident I am in using formative assessment.

When I get the homework for the Punnett Squares for the 5 students I discussed, I’ll be sure to share the results with all of you. I’m really hoping that quick informal assessment and opportunity to reteach a little bit will be as powerful for my students as it was for me. If any of you have used formative assessment and then used the results with your students I would love to hear about it! I’m becoming obsessed with how to add this into my lessons and use it appropriately.

An Idea for Review

Today was the last day of my body systems unit. We reviewed on Wednesday and the test was today. I wanted to share some things about my review day because I felt like that day went pretty well.

My CT was generous enough to explain and show me how he had done review days in the past and I really liked the setup. I wanted to try it myself so I stole his structure for the review.

My review day started with a short video with 25 facts about the human body. Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPNiEuEy8uY. My kids really seemed interested in the video. I had them pick 2 of their favorite facts and try to think about the facts using the different body systems we had learned. One of my classes even asked me to replay it because they felt like they had missed some cool stuff.

After using the video as my bridge for the beginning of class, I introduced the review stations we would be doing to prepare for the test. The structure of the stations was what I stole from CT and I was really a fan of how smoothly it went.

There were six different stations (one at each table) and at each station there were two test questions printed and taped on the table. At each station the students were asked to answer each question, explain their answer, rate their confidence level, state the key idea being tested, and explain what they needed to do to answer the questions. I provided them with a list of key ideas that they could choose from and a list of sentence starters to help them explain what they needed to do to answer the questions. Some of the key ideas included the digestive system, the nervous system, nutrition, etc. Each sentence starter began with, “To answer this question I needed to…” and some options to fill in after that were, “analyze a diagram. I did this by…” and “Understand a key science vocabulary word:________. This word means.” The students were already familiar with these types of stations which I’m sure contributed to the smooth flow of the class but I also think the setup was really helping them prepare for the test. They were able to read and interpret a question and then link it with a key idea that they knew was going to show up on their test. The strategies they used to answer the questions during the review could be repeated on the actual test.

I gave the students four minutes and thirty seconds at each station. I used a timer to help them pace themselves and I let them work with one other person or by themselves if they preferred. If you’re looking for something new to try for review, I’d recommend trying this one! I love that I was able to steal this from CT and see if I liked the structure. I’m really feeling the ability to try new things in a safe setting at my new placement.

I attached my documents that I printed out and taped to the tables for the review stations. I also attached the packet that my students used as they rotated from station to station.

20150304BodySystemsReviewStationsKramerJv1
20150304BodySystemsReviewAnswerPacketKramerJv1

Zombis, Magic, and Voodoo

So, my cousin is getting married this weekend and I’m kinda freaking out about how I’m going to get my work done since I’m losing the weekend. I’m trying to get ahead in my work which is why I’m posting this so early. I’m putting my book talk paper on here for you all to read because I think you would all really enjoy the book I read. I read The Serpent and The Rainbow by Wade Davis. It doesn’t necessarily cater to a certain content area of science which is why I think everyone would enjoy it. While reading I was able to appreciate the scientific journey that the author experienced while researching with traditional and nontraditional methods in Haiti and I was also able to feel like I was helping him solve a mystery (which makes reading very enjoyable for me). If any of you want to read it I’m sure Jess would be more than willing to let you borrow the book (I borrowed it from her). Jo Ann also really enjoyed the book and apparently she had been researching the author. I’m interested to hear her findings and do some digging of my own about Wade Davis. Looking forward to hearing about the different books you all read and I’m hoping one of yours involves a kinda creepy magical mystery type thing like The Serpent and The Rainbow. 

Here is my book talk paper:

Title: The Serpent and The Rainbow
Author: Wade Davis

Big Idea: What does it mean to be alive?
The Serpent and The Rainbow involves a mystery surrounding life and death in the country of Haiti. The author, Wade Davis, describes his personal experience while investigating zombis, voudon, and the chemicals and persons involved.

Davis was attempting to solve a mystery during his investigation in Haiti. The individuals deemed, zombi had similar and very specific symptoms. As botanist for a major university, Davis began by studying types of plants found in Haiti that could result in some of the symptoms through topical application. After many different experiences and conversations, Davis moved on to deciphering the ingredients in a powder that was used to initiate the zombi process in an individual. The powder resulted in symptoms of a human being that could easily be confused with death. These symptoms lead directly to the big idea; what does it mean to be alive? While in Haiti and working in his lab, Davis had to question how to determine when a human being truly is dead. The human soul takes this big idea to another level; does a human soul ever die? How do zombis fit into the world through the lens of life and death?

Davis’ expedition and work in Haiti completely enveloped the nature of science in many different ways. There were many different individuals ranging from professors, voudon priests, and local Haitians. Davis collaborated with many of these individuals to help determine what was necessary for the zombi powder and how zombis were chosen. Through this collaboration, David needed to use very high levels of scientific literacy to determine what information was valid and what information was biased, or heavily based in magic. While receiving information from many different people involved in the zombi and voudon society, Davis had to translate the information, processes, and language from person to person. His investigation encompassed that science is messy. No single houngan (voudon priest) had an exact recipe for a zombi powder or a “right” way to conduct a voudon ceremony. The people of Haiti all share similar beliefs but they are practiced differently. This exact thought can be translated to the nature of science; scientists may conduct research and experiments with a similar or the same endpoint but use different methods to get to that endpoint. These different points of view, like the different ingredients in zombi powders or different chants at ceremonies are unique and can be used collaboratively to solve a mystery, or answer a question.

While reading, I thought about a few different places that The Serpent and The Rainbow could be used in the classroom. My favorite part of the book was when Davis observed the making of zombi powder and the different ingredients involved in the process. Davis then saw another voudon priest make the powder but with a slight change in ingredients. I would love to have learners read that portion of the book and make a list of the ingredients involved in each different zombi powder. They could then determine which ingredients are necessary for the outcome (symptoms that can be mistaken for death) and determine a plan for testing the different combinations of ingredients. An experience like this would be helpful for learners to understand why it is important to work in a scientific language that can be translated throughout the world and work with procedures that can be duplicated along with their outcomes.

In reflecting on The Serpent and The Rainbow I would definitely recommend the book to people who have had a significant amount of experience in the field of science. I would also recommend individual chapters for use in the classroom. There were pieces of the book that I found completely confusing but other pieces when I couldn’t put the book down. I think Davis’ experience in Haiti is an excellent example of an authentic scientific experience in an authentic space. This experience is something I think many with experience in the field would enjoy reading about while they attempt to solve a scientific and magical mystery alongside Wade Davis.

So, what does it mean to be alive? After walking through zombi powder, are you still alive? After lying in a grave for three days, are you alive? After dying, is your soul alive? These are all questions that are not answered throughout The Serpent and The Rainbow but they are questions that are scientifically challenged.

 

References

Davis, W. (1985). The serpent and the rainbow: A Harvard scientist’s astonishing journey into the secret societies of Haitian voodoo, zombis, and magic. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks.

Issues-Based Science Learning and Planning

After I finish human body systems, I’m moving into genetics and (of course) Jo Ann has already started giving me ideas for the unit. Jo Ann proposed an issues-based approach to genetics using a very recent article from the local newspaper about sickle cell anemia. I really liked the idea of something local and so prevalent in urban areas. The more I’ve been thinking about planning this unit, the more I’m realizing how much the planning process embodies the nature of science. I consider collaboration and relevance of scientific content to be major components of the nature of science.

The sickle cell idea was originally proposed to Ryan, who is also teaching genetics and when Jo Ann found out I’ll be doing the same topic, she suggested that we plan together. Now, Eric is jumping in on the idea because he is also planning a similar unit. I’m very excited to collaborate with Ryan (again) and Eric to plan our issues-based approach to teaching genetics. Collaboration is such a big piece of the nature of science and I’m hoping that it benefits the unit that we plan. I am looking forward to three different content areas and three very different thinking and planning styles working together.

Once we all sit down to begin planning, I’m really hoping to take some of the ideas from the issues-based science reading from Andrea’s first class. I feel like we always talk about how important it is to make learning relevant, but I’m not sure how much I really did that at my first placement. I remember the section about community knowledge in the Warner lesson plan to be a stretch when I was planning and I really want to have something solid to write in that section.

“When issues are used in the classroom, science understanding is paired with societal connections that make content relevant and help develop students’ scientific literacy” (Wilmes & Howarth, 2009, p. 26). After reading this portion about issues-based science, I started thinking about how the relevance of scientific topics is crucial in developing one’s identity within the culture of science. Using the article about sickle cell anemia within the genetics unit would really help to increase the relevance of this scientific topic to the learners in our classrooms. The article is about a twin brother and sister from the Rochester area. The sister was suffering from sickle cell anemia and her brother provided a life-saving bone marrow transplant that happened at the University of Rochester Medical Center. I think the chance of a student identifying and relating with this story is much higher because of the local relevance. I’m eager to hear how Ryan and Eric are planning to approach this unit. I’m excited to collaborate using local resources to plan an issues-based science unit on genetics.

While I was writing this, I just thought about Tiarra’s idea for a model for my innovative unit and how this might also qualify as an issues-based science approach. I was struggling immensely thinking about a model that could be revisited throughout a unit on evolution. Tiarra suggested doing something related to the white deer that can be found in Romulus, NY. I was instantly excited because of the local connection. Tiarra was telling me that there used to be a military base in that area and because of the physical, fenced in setting, the deer had no predators. Many people believe that the lack of natural predators is why the deer have a white colored fur. I think this would be a really interesting question with which to begin the evolution unit. “The best questions are ones that require students to do more than answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’” (Wilmes & Howarth, 2009, p. 27). Showing my students that there is a population of white deer right near Rochester would give them a question that definitely does not require a yes or no answer. This topic can be revisited and the students can provide new and revised explanations as they continue to contrast their knowledge about evolution.

I’m feeling pretty excited about the issues-based science approach; I think it would be a great way to start talking about the nature of science in the classroom as the students are grappling with real issues in their local community. Is anyone else considering using the issues-based science approach at their new placement? I would love to hear any of your ideas or see any articles that might lend to a particular unit.

Here is the link to the reading about issues-based science:

using issue based science in the classrooms

Here is the link to the sickle cell anemia article:

Sickle Cell sufferer freed from pain p1 Democrat_and_Chronicle_20150130_A01_3

Sickle cell pg 2

References

Wilmes, S. & Howarth, J. (2009). Using issues-based science in the classroom. The Science Teacher, 24-29.