Sunday, October 5, 2008

Knee deep in projects

I am trying my best to stay on top of where I am headed, but when push comes to shove, I procrastinate. For example, I should create reflection exercises for every day for every class. Not only does it give me an idea of where my students are but will also give me a few minutes to collect my thoughts (I am really a person who has it pretty together since I do not pursue busy work in my classes but 3 preps can get rough). I also should have a better idea of how I can make work more authentic but that can be tough as there is a curriculum to follow (and a pretty tight one as well).

In my Science for Living class, I would say it will be very authentic as it is purely environmental. I have a wide variety of students, many of which are very low in basic skills. I have faith thought that I can reach most of them and give them an opportunity to show that they can learn and be successful in a class. Many are pretty excited about what we have been talking about. It is the completion that they are not so good about!

My Biology class is outstanding! They are working towards the White-tailed deer management town hall meeting. This is tough for them. About 90% of them are hunters, do not believe there is a management problem (and really here there isn't any), and have had to research and adopt a value system that is foreign to them. They are working diligently and I have lined up speakers to help them understand viewpoints. Anyone have experience with white-tailed deer (especially nuisance in housing developments)? We would love to skype people in!

Academic Biology is working on classification having classified candy then created a dichotomous key of the campus leaves. Now we will be looking at monocot vs. dicot through seeds they have planted (will compare seeds, stems, leaves, and roots), slides they will use with the moticam, and research. The work is open enough for variety and attempts to identify species in our food and fiber system. This is one example of using a portfolio type exercise to explain learning. This week we will be blogging as they enter their scientific article research online. Will let everyone know when it is live.

I am really grateful for a colleague I am working closely with. She is a great critical thinker and has some great ideas and both of us are working diligently to be paperless and really change the culture in our class with the tasks we ask students to do. As a 21st century teacher, she is still learning but she has been fearless in staying with it and working with her has been a real pleasure!

Here is an idea we have:
Dissection is coming up - intead of spacing them through the year, we are going to do them all now as well as studying preserved specimens of animals. We are kicking around the idea of a wiki textbook that covers the kingdoms, the classification, dissection of the 4 animals (crayfish, starfish, clam, pig), as well as extension to our lives (bacteria and health, etc.) We have two mini projects that we will do.
  1. Research of an animals as a biodiversity dictionary (every student would get something different)
  2. Create an organism using Scratch. Students would have to draw an animal and then classify it based upon what they know about animal classification.
What do you think?

Tags: moticam, biology, science education


  1. Louise,

    I like the idea of doing all the dissections at one time; it will better allow for comparisons amongst organisms, I think the students will hone their skills with daily dissections, and it will make prepping easier if the dissection tools will be used (nearly) every day.

    Here's an idea for your Scratch project, one that you may have already considered. After the students have designed their organism and classified it, have their peers classify it too. This may encourage them to create challenging organisms that still can be classified.

    Thanks again for sharing--I love hearing what you're doing with your students!

  2. I think I am going to make sure I check your site daily and steal/borrow/covet your work!

    I like Claire's follow-up work, too.

    I'm still a fairly new teacher (though no longer a fairly new human).

  3. @Claire: Thanks for the great idea! I think we will be using that. We are actually finalizing an expansion of the animal classification leading to dissection ideas. It will become a wiki textbook as it will be easily buried in our site.

    @Doyle: I think you have a lot to offer with your poetic and philosophical wisdom. If you need anything as you move into this world, give a holler. Feel free to use and modify. I am interested to see what you do, so make sure you share as well! I pick up great ideas from others as well.