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Get Real! Science – The Get Real! Science Blog
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The Get Real! Science Blog

Motivation to Learn, and the Importance of Community!


This week, the GR!S cohort began to grapple with the role of motivation and community in learning.  As you can see from Alyssa’s last post, we began our exploration into the readings by exploring “What is Science?”.  After that, we grappled with, “How do people learn (science)?”, followed by an exploration of the way that language influences engagement and discourse in science.  Here we are, a couple weeks later, focusing on, “But can’t we just make them learn science?”

As Calvin is pointing out in this classic “Calvin and Hobbs” (Bill Watterson, 2012) comic strip, the simple answer might be […]

By |October 13th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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What even IS science???

It would be Kim Possible for me to get through this post without including at least one of the numerous jokes that Dr. John VanNiel delightfully included in his presentation on Monday!


Dr. John VanNiel is a professor of Environmental Conservation and Horticulture at Finger Lakes Community College, and on Monday he was a guest presenter for our class, Theory and Practice in Teaching and Learning Science. An effortless pro in eliciting student ideas, he demonstrated for us how he presents information to his classes in a way that builds upon their funds of knowledge and fosters meaningful learning and […]

By |September 21st, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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Where we learn

You’re in 8thgrade and you walk into math class. As you sit down, the teacher is handing back graded tests. You’re pretty confident that you did well. When the teacher hands back your test though, you’re shocked to see that you have red marks all over the short answer questions that read “Write answer, but you didn’t do it the right way”. In your head you think, “What is the right way and why does it matter? I figured it out my own way, AND I got the right answer!”


Daily Mail

Authentic learning

Elizabeth brought up a story just like this […]

By |September 16th, 2018|Uncategorized|1 Comment

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Encouraging Investigation: Student-Driven Questions

This week the GR!S Cohort pondered the following: How do we get our students to investigate their own questions? As educators how do you implement protocols that encourage students to identify and ask their own questions? How do we motivate learning in the classroom, and outside the classroom, in ways that encourage students to continuously seek out new questions?

Image: Huffington Post
According to the Right Question Institute “The ability to produce questions, improve questions, and prioritize questions may be one of the most important-yet too often overlooked- skills that a student can acquire in their formal education”. Traditionally, science laboratories have provided few […]

By |April 13th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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Getting Students to Investigate Their Own Questions

When it comes to students exploring their own curiosity, I have found that it comes much easier to the younger generations. They’re still brimming with curiosity and are very open about asking questions. As students get older, it is generally harder for them to find questions that they find worth truly investigating. Most of what they don’t know they think they can google, or they aren’t sure what they don’t know, or they just don’t care enough to pursue it.

Truthfully, though, all students need help investigate their own questions. This is where scaffolding comes in.  Instructors might start students […]

By |March 24th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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Support Over Thoughts and Prayers

These past few weeks have been hard for any student, teacher, parent, administrator, or anyone you could think that works for or is in a school. As I sit here, trying my hardest to think about something positive to blog about, my heart has been set on this topic for a few days now. My heart is full of sadness and grief for those who have lost 17 friends, classmates, students and teachers on February 14th, 2018. In case you are not aware of what is going on, this past Valentines Day yet another school shooting has happened, this […]

By |March 5th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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Science and Literacy: An Interdisciplinary Teaching Approach

In last weeks blog I referenced Dr. Tony Wagner’s Seven Survival Skills. Dr. Wagner proposes the following seven skills as essential for: improving our teaching and learning strategies in education, and preparing students to lead lives as “civically engaged individuals” (Danielle Allen, What Is Education For?).

Critical thinking and problem solving
Collaboration across networks and leading by influence
Agility and Adaptability
Initiative and Entrepreneurialism
Effective oral and written communication
Accessing and Analyzing Information
Curiosity and Imagination

I left us with the question: How do we account for Wagner’s Seven Survival Skills when selecting Big Ideas? This week, the Get Real! Science cohort is working on Stage 3 of […]

By |March 3rd, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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Giving My Students the Power, As Inspired by Dead Poet’s Society (1989)

“I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life. To put to rout all that was not life; and not, when I had come to die, discover that I had not lived” (Henry David Thoreau, as quoted by Neil Perry).
What does it mean to have lived? How do we measure the successes of our own lives? Who do we let define what it means for us to ‘live deliberately,’ in the words of Thoreau?

I ask these questions after watching Dead Poet’s Society (1989), a film […]

By |March 3rd, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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#NeverAgain, #WhatIf


Last week, I wrote about the February 14th Parkland shooting and what the Parkland students were doing to fight for their rights to feel safe in schools. Since so much has happened in the past week since then, I thought I’d post some updates rather than edit my original post because I think staying up to date on this situation is more important.

Between February 14th and last Friday, the Parkland survivors had

1. Held numerous rallies for strict gun control

2. Held a CNN town hall

3. Changed the minds of certain lawmakers

4. Organized 2 protests

5. Inspired some long-time gun owners to […]

By |March 3rd, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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What makes an idea, a BIG idea?

Image: Ted Ed
What makes an idea, a BIG idea? As educators we are surrounded by ideas. It is our responsibility to carefully select and combine ideas which serve as the foundations for meaningful learning experiences for our students: the Big Ideas. It is essential that these ideas are situated: Meaningful learning experiences are situated in familiar culture and context, respect and employ the prior knowledge and experience of each learner, are scaffolded accordingly, and incorporate community expertise and resources while fostering participatory, citizen science action research (Avery, 2013; Ballard et al. 2017).

According to Wiggins & McTighe (2004), BIG ideas provide a “conceptual […]

By |February 19th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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What’s the Big Idea?

According to Understanding by Design (Wiggins & McTighe, 1998), a “big idea” is a “concise statement, principle, or generalization that promotes in-depth understanding, and emphasizes the common characteristics of a unifying concept”. I like to think of it as the idea that lies at the core of a subject and guides my thinking about it.

For my innovative unit, I will be kicking off the first few weeks of ecology. I believe that the big idea for this unit is “Living things in an environment are all connected and depend on each other to create a balanced system”. Ecology is the study […]

By |February 18th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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Going Big

Let me give you two grand statements about the way in which complex biological organisms operate:

Complex biological organisms, like humans, maintain internal balance by relying on the interworking of complex systems of organs.

The health of any system requires that all it’s parts are able to adapt to each others’ needs. When that doesn’t happen, the system cannot be healthy.

Both of these statements successfully capture what they set out to describe. Which one is better? You might, and not without a reason, say that it is of course the first one. After all, it is the only one […]

By |February 16th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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