Today I was mesmerized by 40 students who came to science academy with a determination to learn everything they could in one hour. They collaborated, discussed, debated, experimented, tested, designed, and LEARNED! I watched 7 year olds go toe-to-toe with 12 year olds and prove why they were right in their predictions. I am so thankful that I teach in schools that allow me to hold afterschool science academies for students. We were STEM before STEM was cool!
Archive for February, 2013
A Captive Audience: Today John Wendel, a WCNC Meteorologist, came to speak to our 2nd graders about weather. I was able to do a little front-loading with them to get them excited about the event. Every time John would say something like “Light travels at 186,000 miles per second or lightning is only about 1/2 inch wide- the students would ooh and ahh. Right as he finished up with them- I whispered in his ear if he would entertain 90 Kinders for about 15 minutes…he immediately said yes! When the Kinders sat down, he said “It sure is raining outside” and the kids oohed and ahhed! I had to giggle- We have a captive audience at our fingertips every day. They listen to everything we say. This upcoming generation has a lot going for it and I, for one, am glad to be their teacher.
In the next 7 days I will teach second graders about microscopes, create fraction clotheslines with 3rd and 4th graders, facilitate a MATTER science lab with 3rd grade, lead a science academy with over 100 students, plan with teachers, attend a math training at DPI, ride with over 100 students and parents to Raleigh for a 4th grade field trip, quilt with fourth graders, skype for Dr. Seuss day with sixth graders from 4 states and 2 countries, and play in math stations with Kindergartners…….I LOVE MY JOB!
Allowing students the opportunity to DO math first and THEN teach it, is probably one of the most powerful “ah-ha’s” there is in teaching. For the past 3 weeks our 3rd-5th graders have been installing fractional clotheslines in their classrooms and sorting out their laundry of fractions onto the line. They have discovered that only proper fractions live in the neighborhood of 0 to 1. They also have acquired the skills of equivalent fractions without their teachers ever having to teach it first. Given the opportunity, our students can learn more about math through inquiry! Teachers can provide the opportunities and students will construct their own learning. To re-create in your classroom, just attach a clothesline in your room. Write the numbers 0-3 onto index cards and attach to the clothesline with clothespins or paperclips. Give each student a fraction to write on their own index card and then let the magic begin. Ask them to hang their fraction laundry on the line with a clothespin. Listen in to their discussions…let them make mistakes and correct each other’s work.
Now for the technology connection….have students re-create their classroom clotheslines on Glogster.Edu. They can upload photos, videos, interviews, and more! Several of my classrooms created their Glogsters and then shared on skyped with their new buddies in Thailand.
In one week I was able to take 700 students through the STARLAB portable planetarium at Maiden and Claremont Elementary. Watching elementary students ooh and ahh over science is one of the many reasons that I teach. Today a first grader told me that this was quite possibly the most wonderful day in his life. Low pay! Long hours! Politics! Doesn’t matter- I teach! What is your SuperPower?