Friday, July 17, 2015

Step One: What will the year look like?

Truth be told...I'm a little nervous....I'm launching a new format today for this blog and it makes me a little scared. As a reflective practitioner, I thought...what can I do to make ScienceGal better? How can I express myself in a manner that is easier to understand? 

This is what I have come up with - it's still a blog, but with a video/audio component. There will still be visuals, photographs, freebies and also a few things for purchase.  ScienceGal has always been a way for me to express what is going on in Science Education.  It is based on best practices, sound pedagogy and upcoming trends.  

If you read my last post, you will know I am currently on a mission to help teachers take part in a paradigm shift.  A shift that will take them from "traditional, silo teaching" to a more all encompasing science centered classroom.  I have even uploaded an audio/powerpoint mix to the last blog so that you can "hear" my thoughts as an introduction to this new topic. 

So how would you start to think about planning for the year? order to see how this works, you will have to listen to the audio component.  Leave a comment after you do!  I will pick 3 comments and send them the Rube Goldberg Design brief for free! But you have to comment on what you liked, didn't like or other helpful suggestions in order to be placed in the drawing. The drawing will take place on Sunday, August 2nd at 8pm EST. Make sure you leave a comment by then! 

Okay...drum it is! Click on this link to see the presentation. 

Don't forget to leave a comment! 

PS - I don't know why some of the text is messed up in the presentation.  It didn't look cut off when I was recording it.  I am not sure why it changed when it was published.   


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Paradigm Shift....

I want to share with you the paradigm shift that I have been working on for the past three years.  You see, I am still a classroom teacher.  And as a classroom teacher, I have noticed that focusing solely on math and reading was boring the kids to death! I looked out at my room a few years ago to faces that were unmotivated, bored, and simply uncaring about what was happening in the classroom. We had a two hour reading block - where kids were pulled in every direction for intervention and reteaching. It was a mess.

So, with some guidance and research in my pocket, I decided to redesign the schedule of the day.
  • First, I switched the times things were taught.  We now started the day with science.  The kids had something to look forward to...engaging lessons and active exploration. 
  • Next, we cut the 2 hour reading block to 1 hour.  Why? Well, we decided to purposefully integrate science and social studies with reading and language skills.  We infused cause and effect, sequencing, problem/solution, compare and contrast, and more into our content area. (More about this approach to come this summer.) Our reading block was now set aside for a mini-lesson, silent reading and guided reading groups. If intervention groups were to happen, we had them in our classrooms with a reading support teacher. 
  •  Finally, we integrated math skills such as measurement and graphing into science. We made these concepts meaningful and hands-on with a purpose.
What were the results? First and foremost...happier kids.  I had students who would have been reticent now actively participating in lessons, conversations and discussions.  These students learned new vocabulary in a meaningful way, and they were eager to come to school and get to work.  No longer did I see the sea of blank stares...

But of course data talks, right??? Let me share our scores.

You know what else happened? I was happier...because I was actually teaching things the students were interested in.  By using Science and Social Studies as our focus, we were making connections all day long.  The students took ownership in the role of researcher and practitioner. And it was really cool....

Remember why we went into teaching...before we got squashed by the rules and the testing craziness?  Its time to rebel and go back to what we know works for kids.

To watch the video click here. 

I look forward to sharing with you how we did it....planning, team work, lesson plans, philosophy, etc... Are you ready to join the Paradigm Shift????