I’m glad I did the Collaborative Conversation

In this class, many things for me are new things that I have never experienced before, such as the STARS program, and the Collaborative Conversation. The Collaborative Conversation this year was on December 14, 2015. Although with the help of my instructors and peers, I prepared well for the event. I was still worried about my English was not good, and my presentation was not attractive. So before the event, I did not expect I could learn something from it, just hoped that night would end soon.

Around 5:15 pm, we started with a 30 seconds “Elevator Pitch”. After I finished mine, my face was flushed, because it’s my first spoke in front of this many strangers in America. Then I gradually calm down because Jo Ann and Daniel were in my table for my first round. First I briefly introduced my background, and talked about the problem of education in China. Education in China nowadays is undergoing a big reformation and trying to transform teacher-centered mode to students-centered mode. However, there isn’t any specific guideline for teachers to design every class with reform-minded concepts. Most of teachers are more comfortable with teacher-centered teaching. Also, students are used to passively accepting knowledge as well, and aren’t willing to think actively. Then I briefly talked about my experiences of student-centered learning in U.S. Finally I asked my guests how I could implement the student-centered mode in China Surprisingly, the conversation went better than I though. Regardless there was a moment I forgot what I was going to say, I talked many of the education in China with my guests. And they really gave me many great suggestions, like I could make use of white board to create collaboratively working time for the students. For the second round, there was a nice teacher even said he was going to sharing his resource with me.

I felt so happy because people did care about your problems, and they did think carefully, and gave many doable ideas. After the presentation, I talked with Anam, and told her this is much more helpful than I imagined before. She completely agreed with me, and said she even wanted more collaborative conversation. We were so happy at the end of the day, and I’m so glad I did the collaborative conversation.

April and Jo Ann, Thank you for helping me with the Collaborative Conversation

I’m sorry I post this blog late. The last three weeks were so crazy that many final assignments came together. I was a little overwhelmed so I forgot to write and post the blog. But I did keep my thoughts of those weeks in my mind. And I’ll write them one by one today.

In the class EDU434, we had a final event named “Collaborative Conversation”. As introduced by April, it’s a collaborative talk for us to share our ideas and absorb others’ ideas. First, the presenter was going to make a seven minutes presentation, and an activity should be included in the presentation to help out audience understand the issues we were concerned. Next, presenter stopped talking, and listening the audiences discussed the questions we asked. Last, the presenter was going to summarize the discussion of audience. To help us fully prepare for the Collaborative Conversation, April recommended us practice the presentation with her, Jo Ann, and one peer. Unfortunately, I confused the topic of Collaborative Conversation with the topic of another assignment. So on the practice day, I talked the completely different thing. I felt so bad that I misunderstood the topic we were going to talk. And I felt so nervous because we only had two weeks and there were so many things need to prepare. But soon April and Jo Ann helped me come up with the topic I was going to talk, and what could I talk in each part.

That weekend I finished the draft of my script, but I still couldn’t think up an activity to do in my presentation, and that bother me a lot. Thanks to April, she wrote three suggested activities on my script when she gave me feedback on it. It’s so wonderful that each of the activity was so specific. I picked the one I liked most, and the other day I made an appointment with Jo Ann to practice the presentation.

When I practiced with Jo Ann, she was incredible patient to listen and practice with me. We practiced again and again, and she helped me revise my script sentence by sentence. We worked for about 2 hours until we got all the things done. She even helped me print all the materials I need and put them all in a protective sheet. I knew she understood the difficulties for an international student, so she help me as mush as she can. I really appreciate it.

In brief, I want to thank April and Jo Ann again, for your generous help to me. I’m so lucky to be your student.

A magic application—-Anatomy 4D

In the class this week, we invited a team of veteran teacher from SUNY. We were distributed into three small groups, with each group had two SUNY teachers. They shared some great resources about class design. One of the coolest resources they shared with us is the application—Anatomy 4D.

Anatomy 4D is an application helps that anyone who wants to learn about the body into an interactive 4D experience of human anatomy. It enables viewers to look inside the human body and heart simply by scanning 2D imagines through our phone or other electronic equipment. Only three simple steps and you can see the “magic”.

First, download the “Anatomy 4D”

Second, print out the target images (as are shown below) from the “Target Library” inside the app from the main menu.

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Third, point your device at the target from the “Viewer” and watch the 4D Experience come to life (as are shown below).

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As described on their websites, it can

– Highlight various organ systems individually, so for instance, you can focus on just the skeletal, muscular, or respiratory system
– Change the view back and forth between a male and female body
– Zoom in to experience each organ or body part in-depth

I showed the Anatomy 4D to couple of high school students, they were so excited to look inside the human body, and look at the flowing blood stream. And they felt this could be helpful with their biology study. I also think  making use of this kind of application may facilitate the science class.

Chinese culture demo at the East Irondequoit International Baccalaureate School

Invited by the East Irondequoit International Baccalaureate School, last week a group of Chinese students, including me, from Warner School had a series of Chinese culture demo with their 3rd  grade to 5th grade students. As far as I know, the East Irondequoit International Baccalaureate School is a culturally diverse school that has collaborative relationship with Warner School, and the primary purpose of the Chinese Culture demo is to help them understand different cultures.

We prepared three different topics, which are Zodiac, Traditional China, and Modern China, for the students in order to give them a more comprehensive view of Chinese culture. Me and another three Chinese students were in the Modern China group, introduced the city of Beijing, China, including the Forbidden City, the Birds Nest Stadium, etc. I was so nervous at the beginning of the class since it’s my first time teaching in U.S. However, my nervousness fades away after seeing the students’ big passion of knowing a new culture, and their curiosity of exploring the new culture. Beyond my expectation, they had so many questions about China, and so many things they wanted to know. I felt so proud about my culture when people are interested to know about it. Also I would feel more close to the person, when they want to know more about you.

This experience made me feel the power of culture. Culture can be the motivation of learning. Also it can facilitate people’s interactions. Similarly, integrating students’ diversity culture into any other class is also critical that improves students’ learning.

 

 

 

Best day in East

This Thursday might be my best day at East High. On Thursday afternoon, everyone went East early to prepare for the closing ceremony. In blue team everything was arranged so well, including the posters, the tables, PSA video, etc. At first, I was a little worried that if STARS would be nervous about making presentation in front of a group of strangers. But when the first visitor came to our spot, STARS warmly welcome her and fluently introduced our project, I felt I don’t need to worry about this at all. I have to say, I’m so proud of them, and I can see their growth through these six weeks. At the first few class they were hard to concentrate on the class, and had only a few basic knowledge about nutrition. Now they acted like experts, introducing their posters to the visitors. They were so confident and look so professional. I guess this day could be a memorable day to them, and may play a significant role in their future life. Seeing the development of STARS makes me really happy. I guess that’s the magic of science education.

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STARS’ first film making

 

By providing visual and audio information, it can enhance students’ understanding of knowledge, and promote students’ interest in learning. In the STARS program, we made use of video in our class a lot. Every time when we play a video, students are very excited about that, and they can focus more than usual. This week, we made use of video in a more exciting way——Stars making the Public Service Announcement (PSA) film of their own. PSA are messages in the public interest disseminated by the media without charge, with the objective of raising awareness, changing public attitudes and behavior towards a social issue (Wikipedia). The PSA film our group made is about encouraging people to eat healthy.

To help STARS make better film, Sharon invited Kristina to their work of making a film. I guess it’s the SATRS’ first time of making their own film, every one of them was so excited about it. In their design, the actress holding the unhealthy food in her hand, looking at the mirror and thinking about if she should eat it. Suddenly, the unhealthy food in her hand becomes healthy food, she looks at the mirror and eat the food happily. As you can see, the filming location should be somewhere has a big mirror. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any mirror except in the restroom. So finally we made our film of EATING healthy in the restroom. The restroom was very stinky that day. However, to my surprise, nobody complained about that. Everyone was so focus on the work they were doing. Some of them even did the acting many times in order to make the film perfect.

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When they made the film, I think it’s wonderful that Stars worked as professional film maker. Each of them in charge of specific part of work, and then they worked with others in a collaborative way. In my opinion, this is a great pattern of group activity in science teaching. When we ask students to do group work, some students may do most of the work, whereas others only do little work. By dividing the work into specific part, students will have more clear idea about what their responsibility is. To this end, the group can work more effectively.

 

 

A tough day at East

The STARS this Monday might be the toughest day for me so far. The first part of the day is great. Because I didn’t come to East last week, so students haven’t seen me for more than 1 week. When I walked into the classroom, a girl who always causes trouble in the class came and said she missed me. I thought she would be the one who doesn’t like me before. Because I always remind her don’t run around, don’t talk in the class. So when I heard that, I was so surprised and happy that I finally built strong connection with the students in our class. But the good time doesn’t last long. At the end of the class, I walked her out and wait her parent with her. She threw the garbage on the floor, I stopped walking and asked her to pick it up and throw it in the trash. I wasn’t willing to do that at first, but I insisted. So she made a deal with me: if she threw the garbage in the trash, she can use my phone for a minute. I know my phone needs password to open it. So I said yes.

As soon as she grabbed my phone, she ran away hoping me to chase her. But I didn’t, but I thought she could do nothing with my phone without the password. Suddenly she dialed 911 without asking me first. I asked her to stop immediately, but she wouldn’t. Until the other side had someone answered, she was afraid, and hanged up. I was shocked she really called 911 without thinking what could happen after she called. At same time, I was very disappointed about a couple of minutes earlier, when she said she miss me, when she was so engaged in the class, I thought she was finally changing in the good way.

Maybe that’s not her fault to be like this, because the contexts she grew up matter a lot to her development. And I also feel that’s far beyond my ability to change her.

Epigenetics and the inflence on our lives

Yesterday I watched a video talked about Epigenetics (link down below). The speaker raised a very interesting question that for identical twins, even if they were raised in the same family, went to the same school, why do they still have many differences. According to the speaker, these differences can be explained by a third, very powerful influence on our lives, besides nature and nurture. That is Epigenetics.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTBg6hqeuTg

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What is epigenetics?

Briefly speaking, a consensus definition of the concept of epigenetic trait as “stably heritable phenotype resulting from changes in a chromosome without alterations in the DNA sequence” was formulated at a Cold Spring Harbor meeting in 2008.

How does epigenome work?

Here is a video of how it works.

http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/epigenetics/intro/

As discussed in the video, the epigenome shaped the structure of the genome, and it tightly wraps inactive genes, making them unreadable. It relaxes active gene, making them easily accessible. Different sets of gens are active in different cell types. The DNA code remains fixed for life but the epigenome is flexible. Epigenetic tags (or Epigenetic marks) react to signals from the outside world, such as diet and stress. Epigenetic modifications can manifest as commonly as the manner in which cells terminally differentiate to end up as skin cells, liver cells, brain cells, etc. Or, epigenetic change can have more damaging effects that can result in diseases like cancer. The epigenome adjusts specific genes in our genomic landscape in response to our rapidly changing environment.

Epigenetic influences and diet

In our daily life, it’s not hard to find examples of correlational effect of epigenome and diet. Such as the honeybee, the honeybee model clearly demonstrated the epigenetic effects of diet on the phenotype, because honeybees grow to be either queens or workers depending on whether they are fed royal jelly or beebread (Choi & Friso, 2010).

As discussed in Courtney Griffit’s video, Epigenetic tags (or Epigenetic marks) can be influenced by the environment so the food that the mom eats, or the pre-natal vitamins (such as folate) that mom takes, or the cigarettes that she smokes, or the stresses she encounters can all be transmitted as chemical signals. These chemical signals can be transferred to her developing fetus through her bloodstream, and then affect the fetus’ own genes and long-term health. Likely if women smoke during their pregnancy, their children will grow up to have a greater chance of developing asthma.

So based on what I’ve learned about epigenetics, it’s important to what we eat may potentially affect the expression of our genes, or potentially affect our offspring. I think this might be a good point to help our students understand why they need to eat healthy.

 

Choi, S.-W., & Friso, S. (2010). Epigenetics: a new bridge between nutrition and health. Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal, 1(1), 8-16.

First day in the classroom at East High

 

This week is my first time went into the classroom at East. I felt both nervous and excited. I was nervous about how to build connection with the students, and what should I do to help them. Meanwhile, I was excited about seeing how STARS program change this group of students, how would I develop as this program going.

To my surprise, all the students in our group were girls. I don’t know whether that has something to do with the nature of our project, maybe girls care more about nutrients? I can tell this Monday’s class is well designed by Sharon, such as activities she designed. Every activity was designed for specific reasons, like the “Essential Nutrients Game” was for helping students get basic knowledge about the nature and function of different nutrients. I like the activity that we stood in a circle, and then each one of us threw a ball of wool to another person, so every one of us was connected with each other. Then Sharon said, as you can see, every one of us holds different part of the string, but if you move, you’ll see all the others are connected with you. That means we can be different from other team member, but remember, we are still a team, we are with each other. The reason why I like it is this activity can help students establish a sense of belonging to the program and to the school. In that way, students can not only learn scientific knowledge, but also develop their identity in a positive way.

Except the STARS program, another thing that impressed me is the class for lab safety. I remember when I was in high school, we had a chemistry lab about putting Sodium metal into the water, so we could observe how strong the reaction was. One of the students in other class forgot to cover the beaker when he did that experiment, so the Sodium metal flied out, and went into his eye. I was thinking if he was wearing a goggle, this tragedy might not happen. Now in China, students are required to wear lab coat, but still don’t wear goggle in the lab (as shown in the picture below), I guess that’s because people haven’t realized the importance of protecting experimenter’s eyes. Although everybody know safety is important, especially in science lab, we don’t have a professional training for safety in teaching process. I think it’s an importance issue we need to pay attention from now on.

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First day of STARS

This Monday is the first day of STARS program in East High. For me, it started with an hour of bus. It’s my third time taking bus in Rochester, and I still felt surprised. Because in my country, every people would take bus, but in here, it looks like only poor people would take bus. Luckily, I met Anam when I changed another bus line, and then we went to East together. After we arrived at East, we helped other PST set up the tables, chairs, and white boards, etc. Everyone was so excited about this and wanted to show our best to the STARS.
When STARS came, they randomly sat with different group and had some snacks. In China, I have no problem of talking with students who I don’t know before. But in here, I felt have no idea of what topic they’re interested in, what should I talk to make they like me. So at that time, I just watched Sharon talked to the students, trying to learn how to communicate with students from her. I think she is really good at it, because she asked the students about their science teacher, like “who is your science teacher?” “How do you like his/her?” Students were soon engaged in the conversation. After several minutes of talking, one of the students even said “I like you (Sharon), I wanted to stay with your team.” I think it’s really important to build connection with students, to make them feel you care about their life. And then students will be more willing to work with you.
After a short time of chatting with students, we moved to the courtyard, and started our cool projects. Every 10 minutes, students would move to another group. In that way, every student got the chance to know every project, so they could choose the one they like. Our project is called “mission nutrition”, mainly focusing teach students different nutrients first and finally help them understand the digest system. Students were excited about using hamburger as their specimen, and they were so into the activity that labeling different part of the hamburger.
At the end of that day, we did “STARS CHANT” and “I Got Recognition”. I was a little confused about what these activities for. But as I was doing it, I found STARS CHANT had the nature of science in within the contents. And it’s a good way to make people feel we’re a team. “I Got Recognition” is a good way to help people know each other, and learn what learned on that day. I should’ve done “I Got Recognition” as well, but I only write down the girl’s name, and totally forgot her face……