Sunday, September 22, 2013

Accountability, Week of 9/16/13

My mission is to 

  • Create a classroom culture where being brave is encouraged, fostered, and deliberately and diligently taught.

  • Create a love and appreciation for science through exploration and discovery.

In order to stay true to my mission this year (even in the throes of the school year, when the novelty of "back to school" is long gone), I have hung a simple form behind my desk that I use to fill in evidence demonstrating my commitment to my mission.  

I hope to reflect on this document weekly.


Week of 9/16/13

I did two things that were fun:

_x___1) Read The Story of Fish and Snail by Deborah Freedman to my juniors

_x___2) Showed Kid President's "Pep Talk to Teachers and Students" for "Feel-Good Friday"

I did two things that encouraged exploration and discovery:

_x___1) Lab: Laboratory Techniques

_x___2) Lab: Make a Solution

I put up a new quote: "Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities.  Seize common occasions and make them great." Orison Swett  Marden

I put up a new joke: Why are ghosts bad liars?  Because you can see right through them!

I put up a new "way to be brave": Make conversation with a stranger.

I put up a new Throwback Thursday sign-up: __x___

I encouraged students to use the brave board:  __I didn't do a very good job of this. :(_


This week marked our first week of "real" labs in both regular and advanced chemistry.  With the new classroom set-up, I'm finding numerous issues that I have to deal with that I didn't need to in the previous arrangement.  But, I'm learning as I go.  It always amazes me how completely clueless the juniors come in as far as being able to operate lab equipment.  I always lose ( them break) about a dozen test tubes, along with several evaporating dishes and a couple of beakers or flasks.  This year, instead of doing a lot of micromanaging, I simply let the students try to figure it out, only intervening when safety was a concern.  It took much longer to complete the lab, but I think overall the students got a lot more out of it this way because they were able to experience and learn from their (many) mistakes.

One of my favorite things about this year so far is my implementation of "Feel-Good Friday" and "Throwback Thursday".

"Feel-Good Friday" started as a way for me to show something inspirational or encouraging.  It has gone over exceptionally well with the students, who only three weeks in are already looking forward to it.  This week I showed Kid President's "Pep Talk to Teachers and Students," which they loved.  Many of them had seen the original pep talk and were totally geeked to check out this new one.  This is considerably lighter than what we've seen so far, but it was fun to laugh and smile together as we watched.
"Throwback Thursday" is becoming my favorite part of the week.  The objectives are simple: choose a scientist who has done something brave, and describe a time in your past when you did something brave.  Students get the first five minutes of class to present both and a different student goes each week, with a maximum of two per class per week.  I love the scientists the students have chosen and learning what they think of as brave.  For example, this week I learned about Don Walsh, one of the first of very few people to have descended into the Marianas Trench and Roger Gonzalez, who designs low-cost artificial knees for amputees in developing countries.  I also love hearing their own brave moments, from stepping into a bullying situation, to supporting family members through illness or death, to rescuing loved ones from danger.  It has been incredibly powerful and I love all the stories and getting to know my students on this level.

Here's an example of a Throwback Thursday from this week:

This week got away from me a little bit.  At this point in the school year, it's easy to just put your head down and go.  Normally, when I felt this way, I would cross out things like Kid President and use those precious moments instead for jamming in more content.  I'm proud of myself for staying true to the mission and using those minutes for teaching about life instead.  It's different for me.  But I'm liking it more and more every week.

No comments:

Post a Comment