What a week…


So this week is going to be a short one…but I hope helpful as well. I had my first observation ever, with both my supervisors, and it went so well! However, me telling you how well I did won’t help you so I’m going to tell you where I messed up and adjusted accordingly.

🙂   No matter how much they repeat what you say…it doesn’t mean they comprehend it.

My first class: We went over ALL of the parts of the microscope and repeated at least 7 different ways NEVER EVER USE COARSE ADJUSTMENT WHEN IN HIGH POWER. I felt they were ready, and sent them back to the microscope. As they started observing the hydra, I saw 1 group touch the coarse adjustment while in high, and quickly corrected them before they could move it. I then heard my CT correct someone, so I felt I needed everyone’s attention. I needed to figure out where the misconception was. So I asked them: “What don’t we do if we are in high power?” Their response: “Use the Coarse Adjustment” OK…so they got that. So why was every group about ready to use the coarse adjustment?

“Which one is the high power?”
They were able to point it out.

“OK…where is the fine-adjustment?” (I knew they knew where the coarse-adjustment was)
Blank stares.

I did show them previously where it was, but they didn’t remember.
How I fixed it: Every following class, the CTs and myself walked around with the microscopes while introducing the parts, and made the students physically point out the fine-adjustment and coarse-adjustment.

🙂   2 Misconceptions I learned students have with Cells:
So the hardest thing was trying to prepare for student misconceptions when it comes to a content that is not my specialty. So if we could compile a list of misconceptions we all experience that would be great. Anyways 1st misconception-

~An onion is not living.
The classes were split 50/50 on this. How I combatted it…luckily my students realized they were looking at cells. I referred them to the cell theory and then it clicked as we went over other
ways they are considered living.

~The nucleus of a plant is a cell.
I had an example of blood cell on the whiteboard, and an example of onion cells. We had the students circle the cells in the picture. I didn’t correct them at that moment. I instead moved on to the organelles of the cell and their functions. After we reviewed the parts, we then revisited the onion cells and blood cells. Before asking if they wanted to make changes, they were asking if they could fix what was on the board.



So that is what I have for tonight because quite honestly…this week was draining but also very good!

If you have any other common misconceptions or lessons learned, it doesn’t have to be biology related, please feel free to comment.

“Cells, Cells, the Cytoplasm Gels…”

Between studying for my content exam and finishing up my STARS project, I have been preparing for my mini lessons. The topic is….CELLS! I will be teaching 7th graders about cell structures and functions.  While planning, my CT showed me a video that her students loved last year.

So here is the thing about the video…it works. I played it a couple of times while doing some school work at home. I did this to familiarize myself with the video in case I wanted to make a playlist for the students while they did their activities. I didn’t show the video to my family, but both my daughters were coloring near me as it was playing. The next day, as the girls played Candyland, they both sang to themselves “Cells, Cells, the cytoplasm gels”. Even though they had no idea what that meant, they recalled that information. So maybe there will be some “Cells” background music playing, or maybe it will play as the students enter class and/or as they leave. Obviously, my goal would be for them to recall the information and understand what it means.


Other ideas on how to help my students recall information and strengthen their comprehension of the content (besides having a solid well-rehearsed lesson plan):
* Take the role as “Ms. Plant” and another teacher be “Ms. Animal” and we will wear signs that outline our key structures
*Relate cell structure and functions to school structure and functions

If anyone would like to add some ideas, please do so.

A Day to Remember…

STARS is officially over for the cohort. I almost can’t find enough words to explain the past seven weeks, so I’m going to try to sum it up with a few; memorable, intense, rewarding, absolutely draining, and 100% worth it. I could write countless blogs on the numerous lessons and memories I will take with me from STARS, as well as how it helped me grow as an educator. However, I would like to focus on the last day; collaborative conversations.
Our STARS were well rehearsed and prepared, but it was the moments that we didn’t rehearse that had the most meaning to me. (Oh boy, I’m slightly tearing as I type this)


One of the first occurred when we had our visitors in our room. Everyone in the room had to introduce who they were, and say one interesting thing about themselves. The STARS had to give one thing they loved about Science STARS. We got answers like “making new friends”, “just being with the team, and doing science”, “the visit to the U of R”, “dissecting flowers”, “learning about the plants”, and “the recognitions at the end of every day”. It was really cool to see some of the takeaways the STARS had.
The next occurred during our presentation, when the “light team” was presenting to the guest. One of the STARS had handed everyone a piece of paper, and asked them to draw what they saw in the microscope, and write what they thought it was. While the guest did as they were instructed, one of the STARS grabbed my iPad and said they needed to get a picture of what they saw, because it made them “feel like a teacher.” I told them it was because they were the experts and had a lot of great information to share with the community. I also pointed out to them how successful they were, because it was only a minute into that part of the presentation, and they had their audience fully engaged.


Full Engagement (picture taken by STAR)
Full Engagement (picture taken by STAR)


The last that I would like to discuss in this blog entry occurred during the questioning portion of the “light team’s” presentation. A guest challenged the claim one of our STARS made about their hypothesis being correct. The guest pointed to the graph, and said that the graph showed that the sunlight grew more than the artificial light. The STAR that made the claim, quickly stepped up and explained how the guest misread the graph. She explained that for the investigation, we used tomato plant clones, so it was hard to start with two of the same size. However, she pointed out that the data showed, as well as the graph, that the plant that used artificial light grew 5 cm, where the one in sunlight only grew 2cm. Therefore, proving their hypothesis that if they used artificial light, then the plant would grow faster than a plant in sunlight. The reasons why this interaction was amazing, and a “proud” moment for me are as follows:

1. The question section wasn’t rehearsed. STARS were not sure what audience would ask. However, they were able to recall information that enabled them to provide great feedback, and answer to the community’s questions.
2. She said clones! She remembered a part of the protocol that was only touched on briefly, during a hectic time, when the hydroponics systems were set up, and the plants were planted. We did not touch on that any time after, nor did we mention it as we prepared for presentations.
3. She didn’t allow an adult to tell her that she was incorrect in her claim. She had enough confidence in her work, and the evidence to support it to argue in a very professional, and scientific way. (I did tear up at this moment during the presentation)

So overall, our final day of STARS was a success. I think most importantly, the STARS realized their accomplishments, and what they are capable of.