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Metanalysis Blog

Blogging.

It has been through blogging that I am reminded of how much I’ve learned, experienced, and changed in a matter of weeks. After a class at Warner, I reflect quite a bit in my head. How did the new information make me feel, do I agree, can I use this in my future classroom? Many times when I do this, I have a great idea come into my head, a correlation, or a question I would like to ask. I repeat it over and over in my head so I don’t forget the thought. However, by the time I get home, and I have 2 little ones wanting to play 500 questions, and I think about all of the work I need to get done, and how behind I am in everything, the thought completely escapes my mind.

Has blogging helped me with this issue?

The answer is yes! Of course it has. Keeping a blog makes me want to relate to everything, and I am constantly thinking, “should I share this?”, “would this experience help others if I post about it?”, “have others experienced the same thing?” It has also encouraged me to keep a notebook and paper in my car so I can quickly jot down a word to remind me of my thought, so I may later share them on my blog.

“The so-called ‘information revolution’ itself is actually, and more accurately, a ‘relationship revolution.’ Anyone trying to get a handle on the dazzling technologies of today and the impact they’ll have tomorrow, would be well advised to re-orient their worldview around relationships” (Lankshear & Knobel, 2006).

I look at my blog as a medium to share information, and build relationships. The previous quote really embodies that idea. I feel that at first, when the cohort started with each other, it was through our blogs we really got to know each other. I remember sense of humor really shown through at first, which helped me connect with certain individuals. Now, through Integrating Science & Technology, I see it as a support system for one another. It gives us a chance to complement each other on things well done, engage in debate if we would like, and offer suggestions, should someone be struggling with a specific thing.

My blogs allow me to see my growth as a teacher. This was very relevant as we blogged throughout camp. I blogged about my struggles, what was done well, and my interactions with the campers. The blog acts as a tool, which allows me to go back through and reflect. Have I fixed the things I was struggling with, and how? In fact, as a first year teacher, I may make myself blog a certain number of times a week, and then do a monthly blog, in which I go back through and read about the struggles, as well as the good things that happened. I could assess myself to see if I addressed the struggles, and in which ways. So the blog could be used as a personal teacher evaluation tool.
The blog has been an integral part of my time so far at Warner. I think it was through the blog that my mind opened up to creative ways to use technology to teach students, in ways that relate to them, and engage them. One quote comes to mind when I think about the role of technology in education:

“…all children can learn science regardless of age, sex, cultural, or ethnic background, disabilities, aspirations, or interest and motivation in science” (Barton & Yang, 2000).

Technology can be a tool used to help all students participate in science. One example of this is how technology is enabling voices to be heard, which were never heard before. One way this has been done, is through use of communication devices. Blogs are another perfect example. A student may be too shy to talk in class, however they feel comfortable to share ideas through a blog. Another quote I think about is:

“Hands-on inquiry tasks can range from capturing no features of authentic science to capturing many features of authentic science” (Chinn & Malhorta, 2001).

A part of hands-on inquiry usually involves some sort of technology; whether it is a probe, a projector for students to use to display findings, an iPad to use a specific program, or Microsoft excel. Like hands-on inquiry, if the technology is used appropriately, it will usually increase a student’s engagement and understanding. Some examples of technology not being used appropriately occur when a device is used to just use it, there is no relevance, or need for it. Also, if you do not have a strong understanding of how to use the technology, and capability to do basic troubleshooting, it is a sign you should probably not use it in your class.

Blogging for, and incorporation with, Integrating Science and Technology, has allowed me to see my growth as a teacher in just a few short weeks. It has also opened up my mind to new innovative ways in which technology can be a useful tool in the classroom, while keeping me aware of the negatives as well, so they may be avoided.

References:
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.

Chinn, C. & Mulhatra B. (2002). Epistemologically Authentic Inquiry in Schools: A
Theoretical Framework for Evaluating Inquiry Tasks. Science Education
86:175 – 218.

Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2007). Sampling “the new” in new literacies. In M. Knobel & C. Lankshear (Eds.), A New Literacies Sampler (pp. 1-24). New York: Peter Lang.

Are we the teachers, or the students…Day 6

“Every student should be a student teacher and every teacher should be a teacher student” (Michie, 1999).

I heard this quote this weekend, and it really made me reflect on my experience with the campers from the Freedom school, and not only what they learned about science, but what I learned about teaching. We joke in class about how science is messy, but after this week, I realized teaching is just as messy. However, that messiness, forced me to see my own strengths and weaknesses.

My lows this week: My worse moment happened after the campers had left for the day, and Ceb, my camp partner, informed me that the reason one of the campers was shutting down for a while was because he was called “stupid”, and it hurt his feelings. I felt terrible that I had no idea that had occurred. I felt helpless, and there really wasn’t anything I could do, because before I even knew about what happened, the issue was resolved. I was also very frustrated about the execution of how the data was collected for the beach investigation. We got everything we needed, but we could have been more efficient, and we really needed to put more focus on procedures in the lab setting (plating), for the campers sake. There were definitely more things that I could name, that I need to work on, but if you read the previous posts, you will get the idea.

My highs this week: I really feel Ceb and I created a safe and encouraging learning environment. Our campers really made their voices heard this week. When one of our campers felt that he could just walk up to the whiteboard, without being prompted, and start leading the class, I really felt we were doing something right. Our campers never had a hard time sharing ideas, or asking questions. Some may have been quieter than others, but their voices were still heard. When asked a question, they, for the most part, readily answered. One high happened during presentations. During the first round, we had a camper who was frustrated with what was going on. However this came through him telling everyone how bad they were doing. So I removed him from the situation and took him outside with me. On the way out, a professor offered to have him sit with them, but without really thinking it through, I said no. Looking back, it may have been easier to let him go and sit down, but it just didn’t seem right at that moment. After talking to him, I found out he was upset that they had worked so hard, and he felt the presentation just wasn’t good enough. So I asked him “What would you change? What would you do differently? Instead of focusing on the bad, let’s do something about it.” After a couple of ideas were thrown around, we decided on one that Ceb had originally thought of. We quickly made the changes. The other campers were great in responding to the changes, and the presentation went slightly smoother.

So with this being said, I want to touch on what happened on Day 6

What could have been done better: Our team’s main weakness was how easily distracted they get. All week we were able to find ways to limit distractions and focus on the campers strengths. However, presenting in a very loud room, with many people proved a hard distraction to get away from today. The team could have been more focused, and I should have been more creative in designing ways to mitigate distractions and keep campers in engaging roles. With that being said, our campers showed great flexibility when we decided to switch the format of how we were presenting midway through. Once we did switch the way the campers were presenting, things were a little more copacetic.  If I could do things over, I would set up little mini stations that represented what we did each day. The campers really wanted to do PowerPoint, so I would have a slide to go along with each station as well.

What I learned about the campers: These campers are bright, and they need to be continuously engaged, and feel like what they are doing really matters, in order to keep them participating. Throughout this week of camp, there were times where it seemed they weren’t paying attention, but when called upon, they had a strong understanding of what was going on. If they didn’t, the other campers were happy to explain what was going on.

What I learned about myself: Today, and this week, I forged strong relationships with the campers, which I knew would happen, but I wasn’t sure to what degree. This group of 6 individuals really have had a strong impact on me. They taught me how to customize a lesson plan to fit the needs of different personalities, strengths, and weaknesses. They showed me just how flexible we all can be when things go awry. Regardless of mishaps, there was always a lesson learned and points taken.

This whole week I really feel like I did more learning than I did teaching. I think this is OK, because despite areas that definitely need improvement, I feel the campers did learn a lot at camp. I feel it is important to constantly be learning. A part of me feels that if you didn’t learn, you weren’t listening, or you weren’t paying attention. So after my first week of teaching, I’m going to leave you with these words…
Listen. Pay attention.

References:

Michie, G. (1999). Holler if you hear me: The education of a teacher and his students. New York:
Teachers College Press.

Day 5…Closure but not quite the end

I had the choice to blog right after camp today, or wait until after work, and blog really really late at night. This is what I had to weigh…do I write a blog while the experiences are still fresh in my head, or do I wait until late at night when I am beyond the point of exhaustion. I realized exhaustion was reached much earlier this week, and there was such a range of emotions today, that I really wanted to take in and reflect on everyting. I have some great regulars at work, whom I knew would ask me about camp. This would be my way of reflecting on today, before actually putting it in a blog.

Today I got to experience Harambee, again. Again, it was amazing. I love Harambee, and I wish I could wake up every morning to Harambee. I even got recognized at Harambee. It was a great feeling, and a great way to start my day. At Harambee, one of the campers let me know he would really miss seeing Ceb and I, and he said that camp went by too fast.

Today was a little bittersweet. Even though it wasn’t officially the last day, it felt like an end. I realized today that I was really going to miss our campers, and the relationship I built with them was special. They were my first “students” and it was a successful experience. For Day 4, the relationships I was able to make with the campers was a “ + “ for me. I feel I was getting a better understanding of how to read these campers, and figure out what they needed. This showed in many ways, but specifically today while making a video. One of our campers had their feelings hurt by the others, and didn’t want to participate. After tries from his piers to get him motivated, I finally got to his level and told him that we were family. I asked him if he ever gets mad at his family. I told him I do. But I also reminded him, that as a family, we needed to stick together, even when upset. He agreed, and rejoined the group. I knew being a part of a team and or family meant something to this camper. He was the one who would remind us that we were a team.
One thing I want to work on, is continuing to keep the students engaged. Especially during activites that are outside. I think how I worked with my campers, while conduction the creation of a presentation. I feel this was my weakness today. I realized I should have had more roles. Roles and individual tasks would have made the presentation creation more efficient.

I’m happy I got to connect wit the campers. I’m happy with the campers understand ing of what we did.
First week of camp was a success!

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?

stress

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:

Investigate
Collaborate!

We’re doing Science

Get your data
Journalize

We’re doing Science

Analyze, Interpret-ize
Constructify the Why
Evaluate, communicate

We’re doing science

Who are we?
Scientists

Who are we?
Scientists

Who are we?
Scientists

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.

cohort