Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Science Inquiry...Want to Know? It Sure is Fun!

I never knew science could be so much fun.

In the past it seemed like such a chore with all of the concepts and vocabulary and limited number of resources to try to pull together to make the students understand the world around them.  I tried to force lab reports upon them that didn't allow for any sense of wonder or provide motivation.  I basically spoon fed the information with a pre-determined result in mind.  If the "experiment" if you will, came out with flawed results, I made the students try it again to recreate what was "supposed" to happen.   No fun.

Now they are thinking, learning, and having fun.  They are using their own thoughts and ideas to develop questions, investigations, and procedures.  They are working collaboratively to answer their investigable questions.  There is fantastic discourse.

This is what they need. This is what I need.

I am working collaboratively with my buddy Todd (who comes up with all of these good ideas) to develop some of these meaningful lessons.  We teach down the hall from one another and are able to share every day to make each lesson better.  He helps by asking the right questions.

Harry Rosvally our Math Science Partnership program leader along with Holly Harrick from the Connecticut Science Center have spearheaded all of this "good stuff".

Right now the students are in the midst of writing up a plan and gathering materials. Stay tuned for more fun.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Designing Effective Science Instruction..Making a Change

Oh the things we missed out on in Teacher's College.  I actually can't remember much besides student teaching and learning abstract concepts that were irrelevant to us then and well into the first years of teaching.  I have to imagine the education those undergrads are receiving now is of much higher quality and well organized.  I hope they have the ability to design and teach science lessons that are meaningful to students. They have the time.  I am now learning about designing science lessons that inspire students to think, ask questions, and truly wonder about the world and phenomena around them.

Designing effective science instruction is very similar to designing lessons in other curricular areas.  The only difference is that I and many teachers like me have feared this one area in the past.  We have had the least training and had the least amount of instructional time in this most important subject.  I am now learning to let go, let the science happen, and let the "organized chaos"  (as some of my DESI colleagues call it) unfold.  This is not a "subtle shift".  This is a monumental shift that we need to take for the sake of our students.  Learning in an inquiry based way can only encourage and motivate students to excel.

I was given the book Designing Effective Science Instruction today at our workshop.  This book was written by our presenter Anne Tweed, a leader in the field of science education.  I plan to use this resource, among others, to help design and plan science this year with my colleagues.  If any science educators would like to read it along with me, please comment  and we can have a bit of discourse about the what is happening in our classrooms.

We were also given an awesome "Flip" video camera! What a great tool for instruction.  Can't wait to use this for our experiments. Thank you Harry!