Everything is Awesome…Day 4

Today was a special day. I think it really hit me how far we have come this week. Our campers participated in an investigation and really took in what they were doing and the relevance of it. By the end of the day, when I asked them “what did we do this week?” their answer represented the practices of science. They had never been formally introduced to those practices as the “8 scientific practices”, so it was pretty neat to see.

One student represented areas of higher E. coli with larger "poops"
One student represented areas of higher E. coli with larger “poops”

We started the day by going to an exhibit at Rush Rhees: “Beyond Rochester’s ’64 Riots”. We did this to give the campers an example on how to present an investigation/study/information. We had the campers look at themes and how they were presented. All of them had a good amount of input. We then asked how this is relevant to their very own investigation at the beach. One of our campers discussed how there was an issue, and to get it resolved, it was important that the whole community was involved. Every voice needed to be heard. She had added a social justice factor to their investigation. To be honest, I have been really happy with everything the students seem to be getting from camp.

Exhibit at Rush Rhees
Exhibit at Rush Rhees

Ceb and I do need to work on communication between each other. There was a minor misunderstanding on what a whiteboard means today. He meant the big whiteboard, I thought he meant the small whiteboards. However, one thing everyone in the cohort has proven this week, is how flexible we are. So we went with it, and the campers didn’t recognize the miscommunication.

One more thing: Ceb is officially “Brother Ceb”. Which is awesome that our campers have included him in how they address people in their community. 🙂

Our students are ready for tomorrow. They are going in with a definite strategy, designed by them, of how they want to present, and what. It is creative and unique to them, and I cannot wait to see the end product.

Camp Day 3

The sleep deprivation is setting in, but, from others opinions, you can’t tell. Awesome. I would have to agree. Every morning, my fellow cohorts look energetic and ready to go. I personally feel like a zombie, but as long as the campers don’t know that, I’m happy.
In the words of the great Ice Cube …”Today was a good day”

Personally, I felt my energy was running low, but I did my best not to show it. The campers seemed excited to be at the U of R. We have decide to have an early snack, because some of the campers mention being hungry first thing in the morning. We are hoping this helps get them on the right foot.

The biggest thing I would say I took away from today is when Ceb and I sat back and watched as the campers take control of their own learning. While Ceb was filling in data tables, we engaged the campers in a talk about the presentations. One of our campers went right to the whiteboard and started writing everyone’s ideas. They were also discussing, and designating roles. This all came unprompted from Ceb and I. The camper who started facilitating the class is usually not one to take charge, or even fully participate. When he was done, another camper came up to continue on. They had some really great ideas, and were really taking ownership of the task. It was a beautiful thing to see. That I feel was a pivotal moment for me. We got to experience something professors have told us about, so we got that feeling of “we must be doing something right”.
I’m pretty excited about tomorrows plans…see you all there!

Can you feel the energy?
Can you feel the energy?

Camp Day 2

Before I discuss Day 2 of camp, I would like to put something out there, which I was thinking about today. On our very first class together, as a cohort, our “Thought of the Day” asked the class to add to the whiteboard, ways we handle stress. Everyone had some great input. However, now looking back, it would have been a little bit better if the Thought of the Day asked: How do you handle stress when you only have 5 minutes to de-stress before picking yourself up, and moving on?


So why am I thinking about stress? Did I have a bad Camp Day 2? Absolutely not. I had a wonderful day. Sometimes, I think stress is looked at as a negative thing. Which in many cases it is. But many times stress also shows good things as well, like that you care. You care about what you are doing, and that is why you are stressed. I feel many of us have felt stressed lately, but it is because we want to do our best. We want to be the best science teachers, who are able to engage all students, and make them not only realize how awesome science is, but make them see that they can “do science”, and are a valued part of the science community. The stress we are feeling, is because we care, and we want to do better. This is not a bad thing. I guess I would like to ask..What are 5 minute mini stress management skills, you can do until you have time to go for a run, or whatever anyone does to manage their stress?

On to camp…

Data Collection
Data Collection

So some positives of today. I am going to start on a grand scale and involve the whole cohort. Yesterday, we all mentioned certain campers that may need a little more attention and creative ways to engage. Today, we all did that. I didn’t hear, “there is no way to engage that camper”. Everyone was determined to find ways to include everyone, and they did. For my group, yesterday we engaged everyone, but sometimes had to use 1 on 1 approaches to do this. Today, I feel there was little to no 1 on 1, and we were able to incorporate all of the campers in the same activity at the same time. How did we do this? Well, first we had a better grasp on all of the campers’ strengths and weaknesses, so that helped. But we used smaller groups, and smaller time increments for activities. We also threw in some energizers, like letting the kids get up and relocate.

The first part of the day went well. The campers were making some great connections, like why are we collecting this data. While using a model of the beach to create a protocol, one of our campers just came up with a hypothesis, while thinking out loud, and we went with it. Data collection could have gone better. It could have been better executed, as well as explaining techniques while testing data. As teachers, we need to “own the details”. I will chalk this one up as a lesson learned, and make sure I don’t make the same mistakes twice.
Overall, Day 2 was great. We are making great connections with the campers, and based on our informal assessments, they are showing a great deal of understanding of what we are doing, and why. My goal for tomorrow is to reinforce that understanding and add to it.

It Almost Rained on Our Parade…Camp Day 1

It almost rained on our parade….

Oh wait. It did. In fact it was a torrential downpour. But luckily everyone survived, and I feel like we all came out with a more enriched experience than expected, making us all realize what we, as well as everyone else in the cohort, were capable of. Like every good experience, there were things I will take with me, and things I know I need to work on.

First, I would like to say that I LOVE that the campers improved our chant. Good job ladies on the bus! Second, my partner needs to be “RECOGNIZED!!” I know I mentioned this in class, but Ceb did a great job implementing the “bring the investigation to the student.” We clearly could not go on the pier since it was being drowned by waves, so Ceb thought on his feet, and took a picture of the pier before the campers arrived. This way, they were still able to make observations of the water on the left side of the pier, as well as the right side.
There were some items we needed to work on. Transitions were one of them, and keeping everyone on task. Now, I could use the excuse that the students were wet, cold, and distracted by the eminent possibility they could be carried away by rainwater that seemed to be slowly flooding the area we were in. But I won’t. One thing we will try tomorrow, is constant change or movement every 10-15 minutes. Our campers had some really great input and questions, and stayed engaged, but then they would drift. So we adjusted our plans to incorporate that. We also have campers that get more easily distracted than others, so we have a plan to keep them with specific roles, to feed off of their strengths and what then can bring to the table. We also plan to work in smaller groups to keep all campers engaged and participating.

It was a great 1st day, despite the weather. The one saying that keeps coming to mind, maybe because my daughter was singing Kelly Clarkson when I got home; “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” I feel we are all a little bit stronger after today. Good job, GRS Cohort!

I’m ready….

In 3 days we will be with our campers!! Not only am I excited, but I feel ready. I don’t know if this is a good or bad thing. Do I have a false sense of security, or do I just have an awesome team member, whom I have prepared with that much, and we are really ready? Judging by this picture, I think it is the latter.

Team Justice League (aka Sweet & Sour) packed up and ready to go
Team Justice League (aka Sweet & Sour) packed up and ready to go

How is everyone else feeling? Ready, nervous, excited?

Today I think Jill and I learned how creative we can be. We came up with a chant to use at camp with some awesome editing skills and teamwork:


We’re doing Science

Get your data

We’re doing Science

Analyze, Interpret-ize
Constructify the Why
Evaluate, communicate

We’re doing science

Who are we?

Who are we?

Who are we?

Just waiting on Ceb to edit the video, and we will share.

I can’t wait to hear everyone’s feedback on the first day!

Packing to unpack later…

So I am packing a suitcase for camp…

Tiarra's suitcase for camp
Tiarra’s suitcase for camp

This suitcase is filling up with ideas and themes that I am going to just put down and address later, and maybe in multiple blogs.

We have been asked to think about Social Justice and how it may apply to us as educators, and in our future science classrooms. I feel social justice strongly relates to relationships. Relationships with one’s family, and community. (We see the strong impact of community at Freedom School) Relationships among piers, and those at the school. I feel this also leads to one’s identity. The identity of a learner, a brother, a care giver, a Native American, an African American, an athlete…the components that can make up one’s identity are endless.
How do I incorporate these in to my science classroom, to have students form an identity among the science community… Andrea, going off of Alanna’s suggestion today, said for them to bring in an artifact that relates them to science. Thus, giving you an idea of what they are interested in.

How do I truly prepare myself to lead a class? I have rehearsing and scripting down, but what about those random things you just didn’t prepare for because you didn’t see them coming? What are examples of those? I’m sure it is a “learn through experience” type of thing, but I wonder, if asked if people who are currently teachers, or use to be, could give a pretty good list of all the things that could possibly go wrong, and how to prepare. Maybe someone should write a book on it.

On that note, here we are in our GRS Community, preparing for camp.




This is what I was told on my first day of Integrating Science and Technology class. “Hands on is not enough.” A student must also be engaged in the lesson. This seems like it would be common sense, however, it is a vital point that I had never given much thought to. The following is a part of my response to Eric’s thread in our class discussion this week on Blackboard, in which he pointed out the importance of engaging a learner:


The other point you reiterated, which was stated in class, was the idea that “hands on” isn’t enough.  You have to engage a learner.  It makes perfect sense, but I never really thought about it, until we heard it in class.  I had one of those “a ha” moments.  It made me go back through and realize how that has been applied in our classes at Warner.  So far, all of my classes have been over 3 hours long, but I am always surprised at how quickly the time flies.  My classes have been back to back.  I am in a classroom (most of the time) for 7 hours, and it has never really bothered me.  However, I remember undergrad classes, as well as high school classes, where an hour was agonizing.  This is when it hit me; our professors have successfully engaged us in learning in every class.  They are modeling what we should be doing in our future classrooms, as well as when we take part in professional development.
After class, I really started paying attention to how people were engaged in everyday situations, especially while they were learning.

This picture is an example of how my Mia was engaged in learning. My oldest had been studying bugs all week at school. She came home one day, and insisted on drinking everything from the cup in the picture. She also had to use a straw. I was too busy to really ask any questions, and assuming she was just proud of a craft she did at school, I let her do what she wanted. At dinner time I realized what the cup and straw actually represented. Before dinner, Mia had found her butterfly wings, and put them on. I again didn’t really pay much attention, since my daughters love to dress up. However once we sat down, she dramatically drank from her cup with her straw. She then commented on how tasty the flower was, and asked if I thought it was cool to be having dinner with a Monarch Butterfly. She then told me about how nectar nourishes her, and she explained how butterflies eat. To engage a classroom of children who were 5 years old, Mia and her classmates were encouraged to become living models, and were guided to reflect on what they were doing as “butterflies”.

Another example, I was reminded of while having a conversation with my 8th grade science teacher (Yes we still keep in touch). I had remembered a lesson where she simulated early earth. As students, we had blind folds on, and were told to think about, based on what we had already learned, what early Earth would have been like, as if we were there. I remember picturing a volcanic ridden landscape. As I did this, the smell of methane wafted in the air. I felt heat on me, and smelled ammonia. There was also a zapping noise I kept hearing. When I discussed this experience as an adult with my previous teacher, she let me know that she had used methane in a flask with a stopper and wafted it towards each student. She had also used a very bright heat lamp, a small amount of ammonia and again waved her hand over the top toward the students. Also, she had used a high frequency coil to make a “Zapping” electricity sound for the lightning. It had made her day that I could recall that lesson almost 15 years later. The reason for that, I feel, is because she had successfully engaged every students’ mind with the lesson. She obviously wasn’t able to take us to early Earth to let us experience it, however, in her own way, she brought early Earth to us. With this I leave you with Captain Picard of the USS Enterprise