Studying volcanoes in class next year, this would be a great time to talk about Kilauea. Tons of resources out there about the event. NatGeo has a great page for teachers with a ton of resources.
Category Archives: Class Ideas
Recently I was honored to be interviewed for the NatGeo Educator Spotlight. They interviewed me about my capstone I did for them on their certification. You can read about their certification National Geographic Certification. I’m always a bit hesitant of being interviewed, but it turned out okay and I’m happy to have shared my project with everyone.
Now for the project I’m not sure if I did write about the project in the past. But as you read through the interview you will get an idea what’s about. I used the Book reading project we do in class and integrated the maps from National Geographic. During the year I give a book reading project, students in class read Rocket Boys and Hidden Figures. Two great books by the way. Students are given a schedule for reading, I would recommend this, I found it helpful for the students. My sophomores knew exactly what pages they had to have done by a certain date. Feedback from students indicated this kept them on track, even for my Honors class.
When completing their reading they had to answer questions on a google form and then they were to create a presentation answering the questions posted on the assignment sheet. I changed things up a bit, by choosing different groups to present after each section was completed. I decided the year after I had implemented this project, I would adjust it and assign the “Hidden Figures” book. Last year was the first year we did both books. The only changes I’m going to make for next year is I will assign this project in the 2nd Semester. I’m flipping the Genius Hour project with this project.
To enhance the Rocket Boys Project I used National Geographic Maps and Mapmaker. Basically the goal of the lesson was to get students to understand the different resources (geological) in each state. Using the maps the students needed to create a legend and indicate on the maps the resources and geology of the states. During the activity we highlighted West Virginia and Coal Mining. Integrating some of the readings from Rocket Boys. They also learned about their own state and its resources. Feedback from the students was great, they gave some ideas on how to improve the activity.
The project was my capstone for the certification. I would recommend the program to anyone who would like to become a part of the NatGeo Education community.
For those of you who are interested here are the National Standards I addressed with this project: HS-ESS3-1 Earth and Human Activity and HS-ESS3-3 Earth and Human Activity.
National Geographic Education Twitter: @NatGeoEducation
I love coding. That being said, I never found the time in the past to do it in class. I teach science and I know coding is great for introducing another part of STEM. But where can I fit it in? I’ve been racking my brains trying to think of a ways to include coding into my class. I know our Physics teacher does coding in her classes. And there have been many times she has offered her robots to me.
Then I began to think about it and finally came up with some ideas. After reading about the Hour of Code event, I decided to try something in class (if you don’t know about this is you can read about it here). When do we code in an Earth Science Class? When the students do their Genius Hour or Citizen Project. I have some students who love to use our EV3’s or they create a game for class. Students love the programming blocks in the EV3’s. We also use these in our Robotics Camp. The EV3 program is similar to Scratch and works on a type of “block interface”. My other project in class takes place at the beginning of the year, I have students use Scratch to introduce themselves.
It was a basic introduction to scratch. I had Students code sprites to answer three questions. Students had partners for the project and had to create a conversation between their sprites. The questions were based on “getting to know you”, or introductions for the beginning of the year. I wanted to change this up a bit and figure I would try this out. I think they enjoyed it, I will probably find out on my semester survey. There were some problems; I need to structure my introduction a bit more, and let them do a tutorial on the program. I’ve already decided to implement some things for next year.
Why am I bringing this up now, well I started to think about Ozbot. This summer I had a chance to test the Ozbot out and found it pretty easy to use. We are thinking about getting some for our Robotics Summer Program. This is a great way to introduce students to coding and can be a great introduction into programming robots. But how could I use this in class? Could it be integrated into my Earth Science Class? Questions I haven’t answered yet. But does it have to be a part of the class? Could I make this activity a reward when we end a unit? Again I haven’t decided yet, but I can guarantee I will come up with something and when I do I will post it here.
So where does coding fit in your class?
Collaborative projects can easily fall apart in the classroom. You start with a great idea but next thing you know, you have half of your students checked out. So, how do we fix this? Listen to
After listening to the podcasts I’m rethinking my group projects. How do you get all parties involved in the project? Buy in? How do you get students to own the process? John Spencer does a great job in giving teachers ideas how how to do this. But obviously each classroom is different, and something that works for me might not work for you. And there will always be that one or two students you just can’t get to work. Its frustrating I know, but its one of the things Teachers have to accept, its called “human behavior” (well that’s what I think). The classroom can’t be perfect.
“It’s complicated, John Spencer says and its because kids are complicated”.
I know the projects that are successful in my classroom are the one’s that students are engaged and have ownership. “Creative Collaboration”, definitely agree here with John Spencer. Our earthquake towers are one of the most successful projects we do in class. Students take ownership and work together on building something.
I’m definitely taking some of John Spencer’s suggestions and implementing them in the some of my projects in class.
Thank You Mr. Spencer great article!
Yes, this topic has become a major point in many academic discussions lately I just recently attended a webinar with AJ Juliani who is a guru of the Genius Hour. It was mentioned at my school recently during a faculty meeting and I found out another teacher was using the project format. This really got me pumped because I have been the only one doing this project for the past 2 years. My version of the Project’s a little different but after looking at other teacher’s blogs and some of the resources on Genius Hour I started to realize that I am on the right course with it. This is my introduction to last year’s Genius Hour which was a great time for the kids I believe. I think most of the students were engaged in their task and most of the students enjoyed their projects. Sorry for such a delay with the blog post, but it’s been a busy summer and beginning of the year.
Last year’s Genius Hour went well, because of student’s choices for the project, they were part of the success. Some of them decided instead of creating and solving a problem, they would help gather data and research their topics. So, what they did was they joined citizen science projects. At first, I was a little leery of this because I thought this really isn’t the purpose of Genius Hour but this is what they were interested in and what they wanted to do so I allowed it to happen. One young man got involved with North Carolinas Critter cameras which I thought was great idea, he applied for a critter camera and when he set it up he started to help with research, sending photos in to scientists. He was so enthusiastic about this project and at the end when he presented his enthusiasm just overflowed. The student thought it was such a great project that he is continuing to do it even beyond finishing the Genius Hour project. After presenting there were some students who got really excited too and wanted to know more about the project. I know it was not problem solving or creating something to solve a problem. But it was helping scientists and I was happy I let him do it. No regrets.
The second project I wanted to mention was completed by a young woman. She came to me and she was fretting about the project. Her concern was that she was not a science person. I asked her what was she interested in and this initiated a discussion on what would she might like to do. My guidelines required that the project only needed to be within the area of science technology engineering or art. We started to discuss the project and I told her to think about. She came back the next day with this idea to create an alien world and alien race with the knowledge that she obtained from biology and other Science courses. Her project was amazing, she created a new alien race and the planet they lived on. I’ve inserted some of the pictures of her alien and some of the worksheets.
I was amazed at the detail she put into her creation. She told me she was so excited about this and she felt that it was something she would love to continue. I told her I thought that was fantastic and that maybe she could find somebody to write a story around the alien. The student thought that was an awesome idea and over the summer we kept in contact. I continued to receive updates on her progress during the summer.
I think this is a great example of what Genius Hour is about. The excitement afterwards with some of these projects really made me understand how important it was to give students their learning back. Putting learning back into the student’s hands has become a goal of mine this year. The combination of Genius Hour and Blended Learning, has been successful in implementing this goal. I think the success of the Genius Hour Project last year, has driven me to improve the project. I won’t change much however, I will allow a bit more leeway on their topics and see what comes of it. I did do a journal last year to try to keep an eye on how they were doing. I found that it kept them on task and could be used as evidence of their learning. I’m already planning the next one for the 2nd semester.
I was painfully bored during my K-12 education. I looked forward to college anticipating that it would be different – more engaging, more interesting, more innovative. I was wrong. My undergraduate education, except for a few bright spots, was just an extension of my K-12 education including more grill and drill with sages on the […]
Below are just a couple of quotes from the blog post that I truly appreciate. I’m not interested in reading this book. Carl Rogers, Freedom to Learn.
Much significant learning is acquired through doing. “Placing the student in direct experiential confrontation with practical problems, social problems, ethical and philosophical problems, personal issues, and research problems, is one of the most effective modes of promoting learning” (p. 162).
One cannot measure the difference in attitude, the increased interest, the growing pride in self-improvement, but one is aware that they exist. (Rogers, 1969, p. 19)
Source: Climate Change
Check out the response to the Booklet being sent out to Teachers about Climate change from the Heartland Institute. Here is another source mentioned on the NESTA website The Teacher-Friendly Guide to Climate Change
Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming: the NIPCC Report on Scientific Consensus, and a DVD, History of Climate Change in Greenland. The package looks official with the NIPCC’s seal in the upper left corner. The deceptive marketing is intended to take advantage of many teachers’ unfamiliarity with climate science….
Oh wow! Another blog entry! This time it’s about another project I having going on in class. I’m always looking for different ideas to use for class projects. If one works then I will use it again, if not I try others. This year I decided to use an idea one of my NASA colleagues has used in class; Citizen Science Projects. I really had never thought about this type of project before until I listened to this person give a discussion on the topic at an NSTA conference.
The reason I choose to do this project is because I believed that students should know more about what is happening in the science community and become informed citizens of science. I also like the environmental issues that some of the projects address. Different environmental issues are being addressed every day in the news, so I felt my students should understand the problems their generation will face. Which leads to a positive of this project, I have a good number of students working with the National Wildlife Foundations certified habitats. They are creating habitats that meet the criteria to become certified habitats by the NWF. Many of the groups are working with their parents to develop an area in their backyards to a “Garden for Wildlife” or “Wildlife Habitat”. Another project a number of students are doing is Project Noah, a site that you post your spotting (pictures) of wildlife in your area. The site allows a teacher to create a classroom and students can sign up. Through this site, the teacher can keep track of the student’s spottings. Students learn about different species from around the world and their scientific name for these species. I have taken part in this project and have posted some awesome pictures of animals. My username is rippie772011. I’ve enjoyed doing it too!
Project Noah is a tool to explore and document wildlife and a platform to harness the power of citizen scientists everywhere
This has been such a success in class that I think I will be doing this again. I’ll give students a project survey at the end to see what I might have to do to improve the project. But overall I think it is going great. I’ve listed the various resources students used to pick their projects.
Project Noah: http://www.projectnoah.org/education: You will sign up under my classroom
Cornell Labs: http://www.birds.cornell.edu/citscitoolkit/about/definition
Globe Observer: http://observer.globe.gov/
Hubble Telescope: http://hubblesite.org/get_involved/citizen_science/
National Geographic: http://nationalgeographic.org/idea/citizen-science-projects/
National Wildlife Federation: Certify your garden (this one you will need your parent’s help)- https://goo.gl/lNKQos
Globe Program: There are various readings and projects to do with this program. Please see the Teacher.
Museum of Natural Science- There are opportunities to work in labs. You need to see the Teacher for this.
Could be used as a teachable moment in class when working creative projects. Thinking about reading the book too.
I’m starting my blog challenge by writing a few words about a learning moment I had in class. Yep, I learned something from my students and it was fantastic.
We had been talking about geological history and going over various topics in the chapter. Our discussion began with my sharing my experience I had with the Siemens Program. During my time there I had the opportunity to work at a dig site with mammoth bones. My training also included getting certified as a lab technician with radiation certification. We were working in a lab with radiation materials and working with the XRF(X-ray Fluorescence) to identify the layer’s elements in the dig site. You can check out my blogs on my PD experience in an earlier blog entry.
Students began to talk about mammoths and elephants. Their size differences. I was honest and admitted I had no idea. I know I should have, but I couldn’t for the life of me remember. Especially because I was an Earth Science teacher I should have, but… So they decided they needed to look it up and show me. I decided to go with the flow, thinking “Let’s see where this takes us”. Yep, learning experience. By the way mammoths stand at about 5 m tall while elephants are about 3.5 m tall, I’m rounding here.
Point to this post is as a teacher to admit you might not know the answer can be an asset to your students. It seems after this we started to discuss various other topics that the students were interested in and wanted to understand that was related to the geological time line. By admitting I didn’t know something this sparked inquiry in my students and made the class one of exploration and inquiry. While having fun. And the students? I think they actually respected me more because I fully admitted to them I did not know all the answers.