Eliciting Engagement with Earth Day Every Day

Tch Next Gen Science Squad

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.

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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.
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The Adolescent Brain: A Big Gulp Of Executive Function

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I wrote the book Attack of the Teenage Brain! Understanding and Supporting the Weird and Wonderful Adolescent Learner, because of an advocacy bias: as a neuroscientist, I felt educators should have detailed knowledge about a cognitive gadget called executive function (EF). The reason? The Attack of the Teenage Brain Book Coverpower it holds over the academic lives of teenagers. It’s like cognitive Red Bull. What EF is, and how to boost it, is the fleshing-out of this bias and the subject of this blog post.

What Is Executive Function?

Executive function is defined in different ways by different researchers. It goes by many names, from attention-shifting to self-control. Most researchers agree on two defining components to the gadget: cognitive control, which really does involve attentional states, and emotional regulation, which include behaviors like impulse control.

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What does Executive Function Have To Do With Educating Teenagers?

It’s becoming increasingly clear that EF plays an outsize role in their academic performance. It’s also outsized in shaping socializing behavior — and EF dysfunction may mediate many adolescent psychopathologies. That’s the reason for my advocacy. Here’s how researcher Roy Baumeister describes the impact of EF (which he calls self-control) on student performance:

“When researchers compared students’ grades with nearly three dozen personality traits, self-control turned out to be the only trait that predicted a college student’s grade-point average better than chance. Self-control also proved to be a better predictor of college grades than the student’s IQ or SAT score.”

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That’s quite a thing to say. Given its academic effervescence, a logical question bubbles up: What activities improve Executive Function?
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Tch Video Lounge: KLEWS for Learning Science Vocabulary

Tch Video Lounge 2.0 - Watch. Learn. Interact.

Looking for a fun way to learn with colleagues? Come and check out Tch Video Lounge, where you can watch, interact, and discuss videos with the rest of the Teaching Channel community. We have over thirty videos in the lounge, with topics ranging from new teachers to instructional coaching.

In our latest installment, Bringing a KLEWS Chart to Life, we focus on science and visit a third grade classroom in Queens, New York that is engaged in NGSS instruction and learning. The video clip comes from our recently launched series, KLEWS: Supporting Claims, Evidence & Reasoning.

Teacher in front of her class, pointing at a KLEWS chart.

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Elevating Teacher Practice: Introducing Our Newest Laureate, Meg Richard

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Teaching is a rewarding profession on its own, but we also know the importance of elevating teachers that take initiative. The ones who put themselves out there and respond to the needs of their colleagues. Teachers like Meg Richard, a seventh grade science teacher at California Trail Middle School in Olathe, Kansas.

Meg RichardMeg has been an active content contributor as an NGSS Squadster, offering ideas and strategies which have proven to be of great interest and value for our followers. In response, we’re now re-introducing Meg as a Teaching Channel Laureate so she can share even more of her practice with our Tch audience.

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Oh, The Places You’ll Go! Embracing Virtual Journeys in Science

Tch Next Gen Science Squad

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“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”

~ Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

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When I was a classroom teacher, this quote was posted on my wall to remind my students that they would have many choices in life. I wanted my students to be ready to explore the world and walk through all the doors that would open for them.

I was recently re-inspired when I saw these same words posted on the wall of a classroom I visited. It reminded me not only of the inspiration I find when reading many of the Dr. Seuss books, but also that each of his books has a message — some buried deep within the text, others more obvious, almost jumping off the page.

Green Eggs and Ham can teach us about the importance of modeling and of encouraging a growth mindset. Just like Sam — one of the book’s main characters — educators need to be open to new ideas and model a growth mindset so that our students can engage in the practices of historians, scientists, writers, and mathematicians.

The Lorax reminds us that everything is interconnected and that, in order to make an impact, we must be invested and care a whole awful lot… which certainly describes the way teachers meet their students each day.

Oh, The Places You’ll Go! is about perseverance, but also about adventure and taking risks. As educators, we have the power to help our students explore places previously unimagined and engage in deeper learning — with a little help from 21st-century technology and our own willingness to connect with people and resources that were once beyond our reach.

And we don’t even have to ride a bus or fly on a plane to take our students to a museum, a farm, or even to outer space to enhance instruction and address standards because we’re no longer limited by geography within the confines of a science text.

So, what are we waiting for?

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Shamrock Science: 3-D Learning with Clovers

Tch Next Gen Science Squad

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“Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity”

~ Lucius Annaeus Seneca

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The ice and snow are starting to melt, the flowers are starting to poke their heads through the dirt, and if your students (and honestly teachers, too) are anything like ours, they’re starting to focus on the golden sunshine of spring break on the horizon. As luck would have it, elementary, middle, and high school Teaching Channel Squadsters came together to explore patterns of inheritance with a clover theme — just in time for St. Patrick’s Day!

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March Madness… Mammal Style

Tch Next Gen Science Squad

If you’re a basketball fan, you’ve probably already filled out your bracket for March Madness. If you’re a teacher (especially if you’re a biology teacher), then you have to check out March Mammal Madness!

The bracket resembles that of the NCAA tournament, but instead of predicting who will score the most hoops, you must decide which mammal would win in simulated combat. For example, who would likely win a battle between a Tasmanian Devil and a Ghost Bat? To follow along with the battles follow #2018MMM or @2018MMMletsgo on Twitter, or check out the March Mammal Madness Facebook Page.

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Tch Next Gen Science Squad in Action LIVE at NSTA 2018

Tch Next Gen Science Squad

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.

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Math in Early Childhood: 6 Strategies for Teaching Math Throughout the Day

Building on Young Children's Mathematical Thinking

Hour-long lessons? Asking students to work quietly at their desks? Not in early childhood!

Effective preschool teachers have perfected the art of infusing learning throughout their day so students can learn in continuous, small chunks while engaging in hands-on activities. Our latest video series, created in partnership with Development and Research in Early Math Education (DREME), features six engaging lessons that build on young children’s mathematical thinking. These videos do an amazing job at getting us to rethink what is possible in early childhood math.

While we were filming these lessons, we got a chance to capture six strategies that can be used to teach math throughout the day. These strategies get kids moving, connecting, and building understanding. As you watch, think about which strategies you would like to adapt for use in your classroom.

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Teacher, It’s Cold Outside: Ideas for Relatable Science & Student Engagement

Tch Next Gen Science Squad

So much science to know (Teacher, it’s cold outside.)

Why icicles glisten and glow (Teacher, it’s cold outside.)

What matter makes up snow? (Your students will want to know.)

Why is winter so cold? (Teacher, you’ll freeze out there!)

Teacher, it’s cold outside.

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Students never seem to lose their sense of wonder when it comes to snow. The unexpected snow day, delayed start, or early dismissal has the potential to take student learning off the clear path you’ve carefully shoveled as schedules are rearranged and students are excited to play — no matter their age.

But play during the long, cold, and sometimes unpredictable months of winter doesn’t have to be limited to the outdoors.

What can you do in the classroom with students on short, cold, snowy, icy, and stormy days?

Create relevant learning experiences and increase student engagement!  

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