Last week flew by so fast I forgot to write about it!
MONDAY – 7th grade classes did the lung capacity activity where they blew up a balloon in one breath and then calculated the volume of the balloon in order to determine their lung capacity. The first period, we split kids up and half the class worked with balloons while the other half used microviewers; the groups switched halfway through class. While it was a good idea to work with smaller groups of kids, chaos ensued. The second period, we just did the balloon activity and allowed students who finished sooner to work with the microviewers. I almost lost my cool with some students who would not focus, but I forced myself to be patient until the end of the period.
6th graders did some data analysis of an ecosystem with several populations as well as biotic and abiotic limiting factors. I love watching the kids sift through charts and be able to make meaningful conclusions. This was the third data analysis exercise in a row, so we were tempted to scrap it, but I’m glad we didn’t because it is a tremendous moment when the kids have gained enough skill from the first two attempts to successfully analyze complicated data!
TUESDAY – 7th graders had a quiz and watched the Magic School Bus episode on Digestion. The kids enjoyed watching and we did to! My favorite line from the episode: “In my old school we weren’t allowed to be digested.”
The 6th grade classes began research for their Ecoscenario projects. Each table was assigned an ecoscenario from the book; these included National Parks and preserved areas around the United States. Part of the assignment was to infer enough information from the articles given to create a food web. It’s amazing to me that they expect all the answers to be given. I had to explain countless times that the info should be inferred and not copied. It worked out well to assign the ecoscenarios as opposed to give students a choice since a brawl over Yellowstone National Park almost broke out!
WEDNESDAY – 7th grade officially began the Digestive System unit by discussing mechanical and chemical breakdown. 6th grade continued to work on their projects.
I covered two periods of the 12-1 class (a classroom for remedial students to have more one on one time with a teacher). It was a great experience and I loved the relaxed atmosphere. Each student had their own personal workspace and the room had its own fiction library. At one point, two students started verbally squabbling and quickly escalated to hurling insults and arguing. I recognized right away that I could not handle the situation and called the Vice Principal (who had already offered assistance if needed). I am glad I knew when I needed to ask for help and that the VP was there to support me. As soon as I called, the disagreement dissolved on its own. My training as a Writing Intensive Tutor in college came in handy since I spent both periods helping with their Biography assignment.
THURSDAY – my last day for the week since I took Friday off. The 7th grade classes learned more about the digestive system and had the opportunity to ask questions about anything related to the human body. We showed a plastic model with removable organs and the kids were totally grossed out; it was great! At one point a girl asked where a baby in utero would fit since the intestines are already squished up in the abdomen. The conversation continued down reproductive lines as another student asked about belly buttons. Finally, my cooperating teacher was trying to remember the word “placenta” and asked for the sac that carries the nutrients. One student rattled off every name in the female reproductive system and proudly announced to the class, “I’m the best at Sex Ed!”. It was hard to contain the giggles!
Only 2 weeks left of student teaching – I can’t believe it!
A short week this week! The New York City public school vacation extended into this week, so we didn’t come back until Wednesday.
WEDNESDAY – First day back! The 6th graders were particularly quiet and studious. They completed a simulation which showed how limiting factors affect a population of milkweed bugs. We also watched the BrainPop clip on Human Population Growth. What a great website! Finally, the kids observed their milkweed bug habitats.
7th grade reviewed what they learned about the respiratory system before break by drawing the entire system and labeling the parts as well as drawing the alveoli and capillaries. Then we read about diseases that affect the lungs and did the List-Group-Label literacy exercise to review new vocabulary. It was really fun to have the whole class interacting as one to create the groups!
THURSDAY – The 6th grade studied an experiment from the FOSS Populations & Ecosystems curriculum that showed three data charts: the effect of temperature on hatching milkweed bugs, the effect of humidity on hatching milkweed bugs, and the effect of light on hatching milkweed bugs. The kids all determined temperature was the most important factor since below 10degrees and above 40degrees no eggs hatched. One student even made the astute observation that under no circumstances did all the eggs in a clutch (the packet of eggs) hatch. It’s so exciting to see them becoming scientists!
The 7th grade classes started the Respiratory Scavenger Hunt. They searched through several books on the respiratory system to answer questions given on the worksheet.
FRIDAY – The 8th graders were presenting their exit projects in a science fair format, so we spent half of each class reading the poster boards set up in the science room. This also meant we were displaced from our room, which provided new and interesting classroom management issues.
6th grade read another experiment on the abiotic limiting factors on algae and shrimp in Mono Lake. Students identified the most favorable conditions under which the most reproduction algae and shrimp is possible.
7th graders finished the scavenger hunt. We allowed them to use books, as well as each other, to complete the worksheet. Approximately 2/3 to 3/4 of the students finished all but one or two questions, so I should have left a couple of questions off since not having enough time provided students with a lot of anxiety. I was particularly frustrated with two students who are very intense about their academics; they were panicked that they were not complete and would get a bad grade. When I reviewed the packets, these students had only answered 3 of approximately 15 questions. I felt compelled to give them both a √- since their work was not satisfactory – I am planning on adding a note that they need to improve their time management skills.
I just discovered that GM has an incredible wealth of resources for educators!
First, there’s Teach Green, the education blog. It is written by science and technology teachers with tips and commentary on teaching students to be environmentally literacy. As written on the website:
This section of GM Education was created as a gateway for “green” educators to share their experiences and inspirations for teaching lessons about the environment. To educate. To inspire. To, well, teach green.
You can contribute your ideas a stories by emailing Educationeditor@gmblogs.com.
Second, the general education page for GM is chalk-full of excellent resources for energy and environmental lessons for all grades:
- About GM Education Page
- Grade Appropriate Resources – Separated into K-4, 5-8, and 9-12, this section gives students, parents, and teachers resources related to energy and the environment.
- Lesson Plans – fantastic plans for teachers that are interactive and interdisciplinary in nature.
- Games include topics such as the environment, science and engineering, general knowledge, and word games.
- Teach Green – education and energy blog written by educators.
- Coloring Pages for kids related to cars, energy, the environment, and our planet.
- Photos from the 2010 Auto Shows
I am really looking forward to getting to know this resource better – I am certain that students will enjoy it as well!
Coincidental to the earthquake in Chile and tsunami in Hawaii, my class is studying waves. On Wednesday we even studied the refraction of water waves and discussed tidal waves. I am glad we discussed the formation of tidal waves before this occurred so my students have a scientifically literate knowledge of what is happening.
We watched this video of an annual tidal wave and discussed that large waves are created when a large amount of energy in the deep-sea is forced into a more shallow area, causing a higher amplitude and faster wave velocity.
The important difference between a tidal wave and a tsunami is the initiation of the energy of the wave. Tidal waves are generated the same way as tides – by the changing distance between the earth and the moon. Tsunamis are caused mainly by earthquakes.
Most people think of a tsunami as a The Day After Tomorrow-sized wave that will take out all of lower Manhattan.
I guess the possibility of that happening one day is not out of the question, but tsunamis are not classified by being at least 30 meters tall. In the case of this tsunami, the amplitude of the waves have not increased more than 1 meter every 20 minutes. This might be the greatest change in amplitude that is observed.
The biggest concern with this storm is that the major changes in tides could cause an extremely caustic environment for the flora and fauna within the ocean.
The reason I’m writing tonight is not to teach you about tsunamis, but to stress the importance of using every opportunity to provide our students with an education rich in scientifically literate experiences. Watching the news today, I have heard too many people panic that a tsunami means ginormous wave that will inevitably destroy everything. I shutter at the idea that these people went to school for at least twelve years and never had a science lesson that corrected the “2012” inspired misconceptions about tsunamis.
This is why I teach science – to give students an opportunity to learn about the world around them.
NOTE: It may seem that your content area is not suitable for teaching about tsunamis (especially if you’re not a geology or earth science teacher!), but if I could work it into a physics lesson, you can work it into any science course! A biology class could discuss the effect of the tsunami on the ecosystem of the Hawaiian Pacific Ocean, as could an environmental course. A chemistry class could discuss how the changing chemical composition of the ocean will affect the organisms. Any way you do it, you’re giving your students a priceless exposure to scientific current events!
Found this really neat video on CNN.com this morning. It’s all about a man who has figured out a way to make his own gas for cooking. What a great discussion for class!
Ever wonder what happens to your trash? So did a bunch of MIT researchers! In an effort to learn more about the efficiency of recycling and trash in America, they devised a way to track pieces of trash. The data has not all been compiled yet, but you can read more about the study on CNN.