“What if you chose to teach, because you could be anything.”
~ Talia Milgrom-Elcott, 100kin10 2018 Summit
Remember when you wanted to be an ER surgeon who performed on Broadway during the weekends? No? Well, what about that summer you wanted to be a pink flamingo? Still no? Ok, well, do you remember that time when you chose to be a teacher?
Looking back, none of these career choices would have been easy (especially that flamingo gig); but teaching is hard — really hard. We may have chosen this job, but at this time of year, with all the challenges of the day, why do we continue to do this? Why do we continue to push students to become their best selves, towards what we believe they are capable of — shooting for the moon and beyond — even when they don’t understand why?
A couple of years ago, the FIRST LEGO League robotics theme was “Trash Trek.” That was the year that I decided to coach not one, but two teams of middle school students… by myself. After thinking long and hard about the challenge topic, the teams came up with two original solutions.
Team 1 joined efforts with a local trash company to recycle lunchroom milk cartons.
Team 2 had read that mealworm larva could eat styrofoam. They decided to grow mealworms, measure their consumption, and develop a plan for landfills. They grew mealworms in my classroom for six months. Did you know those little buggers grow wings? I didn’t.
As Earth Day is quickly approaching, I’ve been thinking a lot about that robotics season and the initiative of those amazing students. They were motivated to make a change. They were obsessed with their efforts and even wrote songs about mealworms to quell the fears of the local elementary students — highlighting that while the worms could eat trash, they wouldn’t actually eat their house.
Connected educators teach longer and have greater satisfaction in what is easily one of the best and most challenging professions.
Whether you’ve had the opportunity to connect with educators on Teaching Channel‘s Q&A board, or even just exploring the Deep Dives, the Tch Next Gen Science Squad wants to connect with you as we continue to get better together!
This year, the Tch NextGen Science Squad has been working to bring you snippets of our NGSS journey through #NextGenSquadinAction and #anewkindofpd videos on Twitter and Facebook.
“Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme, get on up it’s…” Olympics time!
~ Sanka Coffie, Cool Runnings
The Olympics are full of amazing athletes, but what keeps people watching night after night are the stories.
For two weeks every four years, households around the world tune in to watch. We cheer on Apolo Ohno, Lindsey Vonn, and Shawn White. We’re suddenly captivated by otherwise mundane tasks like sweeping (curling anyone?).
The stories of the athletes teach lessons of perseverance in which athletes train, and retrain, and retrain… until they reach their goal and the glory.
How can we provide students with analogous opportunities to embrace a process that leads them to overcome a challenge and improve upon a system?
Halloween can be a scary time of year for educators
— candy, costumes, calamity — oh my!
In this season of changing leaves, could it be time to change our mindsets as well? Can we turn the season of “boo” into a season of “oooh” in our classrooms this fall?
Here are some ideas on how to use the crispness of autumn and some tasty candy sensations to sweeten some lessons for your students this Halloween.
Total Eclipse of the… Start?
Bonnie Tyler’s infamous tune has been resonating for months and the national solar eclipse on August 21st has been overshadowing conversations about the first week of school for many this year.
Even though The Great American Solar Eclipse is helping science educators start the school year off with the NGSS phenomena of a lifetime, there’s no need to throw shade at your science coworkers. The solar eclipse has the potential to be a bright spot all across the curriculum, and one that students won’t soon forget.
Imagine being 12 years old and being told that you’re made up of tiny bits, that are made up of tiny bits, that are made up of tiny bits; and all those bits are going to interact in different ways and have AWESOME names that sound more like spells from Harry Potter than English. For me, teaching cell transportation at the middle school level has been a challenge.
When students walk into our classrooms many of them have no concept of cells other than the ones they’re carrying in their pockets. We, as science teachers, have long relied on analogies to demonstrate concepts; although this method has worked, I find there’s always a student who is confused by the “endoplasmic reticu-what” and cannot work their way up Bloom’s or grasp the Depth of Knowledge (DOK) I’m seeking for mastery,
This fall, I decided to change my approach when teaching the topic of cells. Instead of having my students dance out the process of endocytosis (think the hokey pokey: “things move into the cell, things move out of the cell… and they move all about”), I would try to align more to NGSS using an approach rooted in phenomena.
As I shift my instruction to meet the requirements of the Next Generation Science Standards, I often ask myself: How can I make science a phenomenal experience for my students? I think the key to unlocking the answer to this question lies in discovery — in my willingness to figure out what the NGSS asks of me, as an educator.
As part of Teaching Channel’s Next Generation Science Squad, I spent a weekend in Washington D.C. working with the Squad to develop my understanding of the NGSS and was fortunate to attend a training on the latest EQuIP (Educators Evaluating Quality Instructional Products) rubric by Achieve.
As I approached the workshop, I wondered why I needed a rubric to ensure that my instruction is NGSS aligned. I didn’t see the logic. Wouldn’t that take substantially more time when I’m already working hard to incorporate the new standards without a rubric? Aren’t we professionals who know our craft and what we’re expected to do? Aren’t we well versed in pedagogical approaches and strong teaching methodologies? I felt I was doing a pretty good job with this “NGSS thing.” Why fix something that isn’t broken, right?
As teachers, learning styles aren’t a topic we focus on very often. They have quietly gone the way of other education trends and slipped behind what we know as well-rounded instruction and differentiation. We educators, though, still know that learning styles provide valuable insight and that we need to reach our students via their multiple intelligences.
We strive to teach students in a way that engages them and reaches their minds and souls. And this is only the start of why I sing to my students.