Schooling Magazine

A Little Ditty About My Day.

By Mrsebiology @mrsebiology
I really should be doing other things.  I should be updating my lesson plans for tomorrow (my plans are always mere suggestions for the week).  I should be recording who didn't do their homework in our online gradebook program.  I should be grading lab write-ups.  I should be recording all of my students' ACT practice in a spreadsheet and uploading it to the shared drive.  
But I need to blog right now.  Going back to teaching and teaching two subjects new to me is incredibly overwhelming and exhilarating at the same time, and I need some blogging duct tape to hold together the many fragments of my mind.  I need a way to make sense of all the newness.  So I've decided that I'm going to blog every single day for the next month, even if it's just a picture or a few sentences; I feel as if I need to expend the energy to fight the entropy that will quickly surround me if I relax for just one second.  I just felt the need to warn anyone who has become accustomed to seeing certain types of posts on this blog, lest I disappoint without giving just cause ahead of time.
Now that my little explanation/disclaimer is out of the way, let the entropy-fighting posts begin.
Let me tell you about my day. It all began with Nearpod.  I used this Nearpod to have students review their own 2-column notes they took.  Sure, I could have reviewed all of these notes with them, giving explanations and putting on the crazy Mrs. E show.  But I didn't.  I wanted them to fix their own notes.  These notes were over topics that were review for them anyway, so they didn't need to sit and watch me work the entire period, learning absolutely nothing. Plus, Nearpod allows me to insert progress check questions along the way, so I could assess what they know and have a nifty report tonight to peruse (another item for my to-do list!) to determine where the holes are.  
I got told by someone today that I wasn't doing my job by doing this in my class.  Really?  Not doing my job?  By having students fix their learning and then assess them on it so I can determine the plan for learning the next day?  Amazing how "not doing my job" and what others consider "doing my job" have the opposite effects, in my opinion - I could work hard lecturing all period and not have kids learn anything, or I could have them doing the work of learning and learn more in 35 minutes than they ever have with me talking at them.
Not doing my job.  I beg to differ.
The latter half of my day was filled with labs.
Picture My AP Environmental Science students were making models of thermohaline circulation and studying how that great ocean conveyor belt affects cllimate. What you see is a poorly colored Mobius strip (Colored by yours truly.  I would so get a 1 on my scoring scale for my coloring skills.), a strip that contains a description of this great ocean conveyor belt and sequences the steps.  
All I heard during this activity was, "I'm so confused!"  And it's said as if it were a bad thing.  I'm going to have to work on teaching them that a little confusion (like failure) is a necessary part of the process of learning.  Out of confusion rises patient problem-solving....because, unlike how school has taught students, real learning is work, and real learning usually doesn't get learned in one 50-minute period.
My "regular" (as opposed to those irregular ones, I guess) Environmental Science students were making a biodiversity model based on mathematics (yay math!) they thunk up all on their own. Picture This was a simple activity, designed to help students visually represent all of the different kingdoms of life on Earth, both in the ocean and on land.   To be honest, I expected them to roll their eyes at me and fight me on this activity, but it was much more engaging than I had anticipated.  Why?  I think it was the fact that it was issued as a challenge - take the numbers you calculated and fill the bottle proportionally, with different beans representing different kingdoms.  I only expected this to last one day, but students are working hard on getting this right, and I am impressed with their precision.  This isn't a fancy lab, but boy does it have students thinking mathematically and drawing conclusions based on their model (They must discuss and write about how biodiversity is distributed on the earth, citing evidence from their model to support their claims.  How CCSS of me.).  
Overall, I would say the day wasn't half-bad.  Do I miss using computers with my students in a 1:1 environment?  Absolutely.  But, until I get that opportunity again, I'll have to focus on having students do real learning with the materials I have at my disposal.  

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