Not just for play: Video games seek to motivate youth on climate change | Devex. Looks like an interesting game. Never knew about the “Games for Change” movement. A movement that promotes using “digital games for social change” (wikipedia). I’ve used games before NASA’s Mars Rover Game on the xbox 360 and we have used it at our science festival for everyone to try. Can’t wait to try this game out. Check out the article for yourself.
By flipping this year I was able to do more labs and activities in class. This resulted in some good and bad moments in class. The good was the ability to connect more concepts to the labs in class. At the end of the school year I always give a class survey and ask students for their feedback. From this I get my “good, bad and ugly”.
The “good” students did enjoy the labs that we did in class and believed they learned a lot from them. They did however prefer labs that I explained to them in detail. Meaning, introducing them to the procedures etc. The inquiry labs or PBL activities where they created the procedure etc. were not their favorites. Why? Because they had to think outside the box a bit. They also felt they needed a bit more guidance in these activities. To improve on this I hope to introduce this a bit earlier in the year. Develop the skills they need to succeed in completing an inquiry or PBL activity. I hope while teaching students to “think outside the box” , to introduce them to proper lab write ups. Some really cool ideas for inquiry and PBL labs can be found at different websites such as Edutopia . Also information on formats for lab write reports can be found any where on the internet, but I do like the UNC writing center Handout. It is a bit detailed but can be really helpful resource. And of course NSTA forums have some really good suggestions.
A “good/bad” that took place in class were the students 2nd semester project, students were allowed to choose a topic based on their interest in science and do an experiment on that topic. Some of the projects were very good, one group actually had a marine scientists Skype with the class. Another group worked on the EV3 Mindstorm Space Challenge. That was the good part, the bad part; I had started out hoping to do the “Genius Hour” or 20% project. But other items took precedent and I veered away from that idea. Some students didn’t quite get the idea and ended up picking a topic and doing the project last minute. Changes need to be made no doubt. But I think I want to change this around and implement the “Genius Hour” or 20 % Project. There are some great blogs by teachers who implemented this project. you can also type in the hastag #Genius Hour and you will find some great resources. Both are similar, “allow students 20 % of class time, or one hour per week, to work on and explore one topic of their choice” (Definition taken from 20% Project website). So an improvement on this is definitely in the future.
Now the Ugly! Group Lab Journals. I tried to implement this year and it just got pushed to the wayside. After the first couple of tries, it just didn’t work. I think part of the reason for the flop on this was I didn’t really take enough time to show students how to properly enter labs in the notebook. I had assumed they knew how to do this. Also it was easier in some instances for them to hand in their work with Google documents. I truly believe that group journals are harder to use than individual. Some might disagree with me, but I found it was easier for the group to rely on one person to do the entries. I think creating jobs at the beginning of the year for the lab groups would help. I’m actually thinking about going digital for lab notebooks and using OneNote from Microsoft. Still looking into it, I’ve been watching TeacherCast and their videos on how to use OneNote. This is one of my projects for this summer.
So the summer has been about improving certain strategies and also learning new ones.
Where are all the women in engineering? A female engineering student answers. – The Washington Post. This article has some really good points that as a teacher I should consider.
HP Announces New Sprout 3D Scanning Platform | Make:. This sounds like a cool addition to any 3D printer. There are other types of scanners, but HP is making this very tempting when they are offer free upgrade to Sprout users. I think this might be a good addition to Robotics.
Kudos to Vicki Davis and her article on 10 Stress-Busting Secrets of Great Teachers @coolcatteacher. This definitely would help some of us. There are some “Stress Busting Secrets” that might not appeal to all of us, but others hit the mark. This was a timely article since I am heading into the end of the year. Hope some of these help.
Future post coming on the Good, the Bad and the Ugly, end of the year reflection.
Digital Sundial Projects Time Onto the Ground | Make: This would be a pretty cool project.
The Great eLearning Design Mashup – Scrolling In eLearning – eLearning Industry. Different perspective on scrolling on websites. Using this type of formating for a presentation can add to the learning experience. Two interesting articles caught my eye the example of the Titanic and the tutorial on PowerPoint. Similar to a concept map, this type of presentation format connects the concept by scrolling. I’m thinking of using it for certain lessons. I’m thinking of showing my students and finding out what they think.
The Heart of Teaching: What It Means to be a Great Teacher | Edutopia. I think at times these can be very difficult to practice. But if you can I do agree there are great rewards. Great article with a different look at what makes a great teacher. The learning is plus when a teacher can show these qualities. All the certificates, awards etc. can’t show a student you care.
The Educators’ Spin On It: 100 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day Every Day with Kids. Some really neat ideas for Earth Day on April 22nd. We are celebrating on April 21st at Cardinal Gibbons. Have a food truck, ice cream truck, animals and other presentations going on.