This week, our cohort started off by discussing equity in schools, more specifically, equity in science education. We talked about how rural and urban schools don’t always receive a lot of resources or good teachers. We talked about how some teachers hold low expectations for these kids. There’s an unspoken agreement in the community that to succeed in a rural area you have to leave it. In urban schools, science is often seen as a “white subject”, and to do well and be interested in that is to abandon minority culture.
I find all this to be very sad because I find that science is unique in the fact that everyone, no matter their background and experience, has something that they can bring to the table. Every human, at some point in their life, has wondered about something. What are stars made of? How do cars work? Why do people fart? And this is why science has the potential to be a great equalizer. Rural kids might bring their interest and background in hunting. Urban kids might want to create a community garden. And suburban kids…well I’m sure there’s plenty of stuff they’re interested in. Point is, there is value in the background kids have and the things they are interested in, and it is worth it to bring those interests into science education.
After our passionate discussion about equity, we moved on to concept mapping. To be able to map out a subject or concept is to know it intimately. You must be able to pull out the “big ideas” and find their natural flow. You must be able to describe how each idea relates to each other and find those mechanisms. The reason we were practicing this was because concept mapping is an excellent way to begin planning out units. We practiced first with a geology unit and found that each of us had different ways of looking at connections. We also found that in working out connections, there’s often a topic that lingers in the background of lessons that turns out to be integral to holding the unit together. We also found that concept mapping is great for planning essays. Try it!
This week was very special in that the majority of us started our high school placements. I am sure that these will be the topic of many blogs in the future, so I won’t spend too much time talking about them, but I did compile a few blurbs from the cohort:
“So far I have been observing my students and writing down a seating chart for each class to start remembering names. I have helped answer questions and assist in lab. I’m nervous I’m not going to remember anyone’s name and I’m a little nervous to have full control of the classroom, but by the time the time comes, I will hopefully be comfortable.” -Sydney
“I’ve been circulating around the room to help students through class activities and worksheets. I’ve also been grading (exit tickets, specifically). Today was real funny because my CT wanted me to test the conductivity lab they’re doing next week and it didn’t work, so my new task is to get it to work tomorrow when I get there! He let me see 3 other science teachers (2 chem, 1 physics) to see how other teachers run their warm-ups, lessons, etc. I’m also nervous to take over the class fully, but I think once I get to know the kids a little bit better I’ll feel more comfortable. I’m also conflicted about my role as a student teacher – there are times when things happen (students resisting to leave when being called out of class by the VP, for example) and I have to deal with these situations in ways that are incongruent with what I would do, but that will come with having my own classroom I guess.” -James
“I’ve been observing, helping students, and grading labs. On Thursday, I got to run the afternoon classes while my CT was out, which was fun (and scary). I’ve learned the names of everyone in one period, and working on names in the others. My CT has been great about asking for my input during class and while planning, which I appreciate. Next week, I’ll be proctoring a test on a day when my CT can’t be there. I’ve also been told that I can run the Regent class’s acid rain labs when the time comes. Exciting!” -Kaitlin
Olivia wrote a lot about her first week on her blog already, so check that out. She had a very interesting field trip.
Good luck to everyone in their continued placements!
*References from our equity discussion if you’re interested:
Avery, L. M. (2013). Rural science education: Valuing local knowledge. Theory Into Practice, 52(1), 28-35.
Barton, A. C., & Yang, K. (2000). The culture of power and science education: Learning from Miguel. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 37(8), 871-889.
Ladson-Billings, G. (2012). I used to love science… and then I went to science: The challenge of school science in urban schools. In J. Settlage, & S. Southerland (Eds.), Teaching science to every child: Using culture as a starting point (pp. 13-19). New York, NY: Routledge.