CURRICULUM GUIDE SED 720 MAY 2003
By Simone Masson
5 SCIENCE & LITERACY RESEARCH ARTICLES
An Emerging Understanding of Science Literacy: Moving Toward a Curriculum of Inclusion by Elaine Hampton and Miguel Licona University of Texas at El Paso Electronic Journal of Literacy through Science, Volume 1, Issue 1 http://sweeneyhall.sjsu.edu/ejlts/index.html SUMMARY This article addresses current trends in education such as emphasis on standardized testing and the selection of “standardized” content in textbooks, and examines whether or not these trends contribute to the goal, as expressed by the science education policy makers of the National Research Council, as science literacy for all people, regardless of age, race, class, or gender. The authors suggest that these practices actually limit opportunity for authentic learning for many students and restrict science curricula to a superficial treatment of abstract concepts. As the authors write, they are making a “call for change.” The article proposes an approach to science teaching and science curricula that emphasizes inquiry learning, cultural and local relevance, inclusiveness, and “a real world setting” over the traditional preference for teaching to standards, and to the memorization of a collection of unrelated facts. This kind of teaching can bring, in the authors‟ words, “personal benefit to the learner and leads to science literacy for all.” They view these themes as central for all science teaching that aspires to encouraging real understanding and literacy among students. CONNECTION TO LITERACY The article addresses the question of how best to teach for scientific literacy. In doing this, the authors challenge conventional notions of scientific literacy, and offer their own understanding of scientific literacy, as well as their understandings of the relationship between general literacy and scientific literacy. In fact, in order to really take the most from the article, it is necessary to eliminate the strict divisions between disciplines. The article discusses literacy in the context of science teaching, but the implications go beyond scientific literacy, and encompass a broader vision of what it means to create an environment that supports critical, engaged, active learning and literacy. They write, “the emerging framework of scientific literacy subsumes and surpasses nominal literacy to a multidimensional literacy that recognizes the importance of integration and contextualization. This multidimensional literacy includes the philosophical, historical, and social dimensions of science as they are practiced in a cultural context [italics added].” (p.3) Even though the authors are referring here to scientific literacy, the interest in expanding and deepening the meaning of literacy has relevance beyond a specific discipline. Literacy, whether literary, historical, scientific, or general is always multidimensional, contextual, and fluid.
SIGNIFICANCE This article is significant for a number of reasons. First, as I mentioned above, it challenges conventional ideas of literacy, and proposes a deeper understanding of literacy that takes into account social and cultural context. It also challenges conventional approaches to teaching science that do nothing to encourage students to be active, engaged, and critical learners. They rightly point out that much of science teaching perpetuates the myth of science as a collection of disembodied and abstract facts, and as a white, male endeavor that is inaccessible and irrelevant to the lives of people of color and women. In place of these conventional teaching methods and a conventional curriculum, the authors propose three key lenses through which educators can examine science education, and begin to make necessary changes: personal and cultural relevance, inclusiveness, and real-world context. If the suggestions are taken seriously, science teaching might really begin to change for the better, and engage so many more students in acquiring the skills necessary for personal success and social action.
Seeking Emotional Involvement in Science Education by Steve Aslop School Science Review, Journal for Science Education, Sep 2001 http://www.ase.org.uk/htm/journals/ssr/ssr_sep_2001.php SUMMARY The article documents a study of two science classrooms where emotional and conceptual issues were treated as part of the curriculum. The author discusses the place of emotions in science learning, and to what extent conversations about emotional issues might enhance the curriculum in science classrooms. He asserts that emotions play a central role in everyday life, and the ability to identify, discuss, and reflect on emotions is an important skill for all people. Furthermore, he asserts that learning occurs most successfully when students feel „at home‟ and comfortable in the learning environment, and when they can identify with and feel connected to the subject matter. Despite these realities, emotion is often disregarded, downplayed, or just plain absent in school science. As a result, science learning can be an alienating and uncomfortable experience for many students. The aim of the article is to address these issues in the context of a classroom study, and suggest some ways to „humanize and personalize‟ science education. The classes were two 8th grade classes in an inner city multi-cultural school in Toronto, Canada that were studying food chains and webs. The students were shown a video of a lion killing and eating its prey, and the teacher then guided a lengthy discussion of the students feelings about what they saw, as well as their feelings about the place of emotions in science. The article includes a description of the lessons, a section with the teacher‟s reflections, and a section detailing the students‟ responses, including many quotes from students. In the author‟s final reflections he re-emphasizes the disconnect between the emotional content of real life and science education, and suggests that the study shows the potential of an emotionally inclusive science curriculum to make science teaching more relevant, interesting and engaging. Finally, he ends with the following question, “What are the long-term pedagogical benefits of an emotionally rich science curriculum?” CONNECTION TO LITERACY Although this article did not address questions of literacy in an obvious way, I believe the author‟s ideas are extremely relevant in thinking about literacy and science teaching. The ability to know our feelings, communicate them, and reflect about them, is central to being a conscious, socially active and engaged person. So if literacy is more than just the ability to read and write, and includes all of the skills necessary to be an active citizen (including inquiry, deep understanding, critical thinking, and emotional and intellectual openness), then emotional awareness is central to literacy. Since science education does not occur in a vacuum, but is part
of a larger project of fostering multi-dimensional literacy, emotional awareness is also central to science. SIGNIFICANCE This article is significant because it identifies and addresses a major hole in science education. In doing so it addresses some of the failures and inadequacies in the current system of education, and provides suggestions for change. The article shows one way to improve science education and make it significantly more interesting, exciting, relevant, and meaningful for all students. A science education that provides students with opportunities to identify, examine, and communicate about their emotions has potential to foster their interest and engagement with the subject matter. Furthermore, many teachers are reluctant to discuss controversial issues in the classroom because they fear emotional or difficult discussions. Students end up sitting in boring and irrelevant classrooms because teachers fear emotional honesty. Contrary to the common fear of emotion, I believe that discussions of emotion can enhance the curriculum, and make learning not only more interesting, but also more meaningful to students‟ lives. If students have opportunities to identify and discuss the emotional content of subject matters, not just in science but in all areas of education and life, they are much more likely to become conscious, thoughtful, caring citizens. And this should be the ultimate goal of education across the curriculum.
HOW LITERACY IN ITS FUNDAMENTAL SENSE IS CENTRAL TO SCIENTIFIC LITERACY by Stephen P. Norris and Linda M. Phillips Science Education, March 2003, Vol.87, issue no. 2 http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/issuetoc?ID=102527131
SUMMARY This article makes a connection between literacy in a general sense and scientific literacy. The authors assert that reading, writing, and interpreting text are as important to science as observation, measurement, and experimentation. They challenge narrow conceptions of literacy that view reading as a passive process of word recognition and information location. Instead, they favor understanding the reading component of literacy as an active process of negotiating and constructing meaning. In defining the kind of literacy that they are concerned with, the authors bring up a number of important issues, including the central role of critical thinking in literacy development, the importance of recognizing readers‟ (students‟) prior knowledge and approaching reading as an active integration of text and reader knowledge, and the role of metacognitive processes in achieving understanding. All of this is considered “fundamental” literacy, which they explain as “comprehending, interpreting, analyzing, and critiquing texts.” After exploring the meaning of “fundamental literacy”, the article moves on to propose a re-thinking of scientific literacy in terms of fundamental literacy. All of the important components of fundamental literacy are also important components of scientific thinking and learning, and vice versa. In other words, the critical, interpretive, and analytical abilities required for science are also required for achieving fundamental literacy across the curriculum. The final section of the article addresses the implications of these ideas for teaching and learning. The authors boldly assert that the project of literacy development and promotion is more central to education than acquisition of scientific knowledge, or knowledge in other subject areas. Science educators should recognize the primacy of literacy in a general sense, and should teach with the goal of promoting literate thought over and above science knowledge. This means more focus on social issues, on developing critical and analytical thinking skills, and on an inquiry-based approach to learning science content . CONNECTION TO LITERACY Underlying this article are three fundamental questions related to literacy, “what is literacy?”, “what is scientific literacy?”, and “what is the relationship between literacy and scientific literacy?” In considering these questions, the article explores important issues in thinking about the meaning of literacy. As I discussed above, the authors challenge the view that literacy is
simply a process of decoding words and writing words. They want to deepen and broaden how educators think about literacy, and therefore how they teach. SIGNIFICANCE The article presents a double challenge to educators. Not only must we re-think narrow views of literacy, but also re-think narrow views of the process of learning science and “doing” science education. It makes a compelling case for changing traditional approaches to teaching science. I think it is significant because I believe that all of us who are entering the field of science education should be challenged to go beyond the fact-based, sterile model of science teaching. We should be actively thinking of ways to make critical thinking, creative thinking, as well as open-ended reading, writing, and discussion central parts of our teaching.
How Do Teachers Facilitate Writing For Bilingual Learners In "Sheltered Constructivist" Science? By Barbara J. Merino, Division of Education, UC Davis and Lorie Hammond, College of Education, California State University, Sacramento. Electronic Journal of Literacy through Science, Volume 1, Issue 2 http://sweeneyhall.sjsu.edu/ejlts/index.html SUMMARY Many classrooms in the United States have a broad range of culturally and linguistically diverse students. In California, students from “minority” backgrounds, are now the majority, and many schools are also serving language “minority” students who are learning English as a second (or third, fourth etc.) language. The article describes how science teachers can create an environment that fosters both development of English language skills and understanding of science content for students whose first language is not English. The article discusses the constructivist approach to science education, and details some of the reasons that a “pure” constructivist approach is not favorable for students who are not fluent in the language of instruction. The emphasis on purely student-led investigations, and on narrative writing techniques, can be problematic for students who have limited English proficiency. The authors make suggestions for how constructivist teaching can be altered to promote learning in a bilingual classroom. They describe what they call “sheltered constructivism” which, like pure constructivism, encourages investigation, exploration, and student initiative in the learning process. However, sheltered constructivism places greater emphasis on teacher guidance in the beginning stages of project design, as well as on modeling the different types of writing that are expected from students. The article provides a detailed list of classroom techniques, many of them taken from a study of BICOMP (Bilingual Integrated Curriculum Project). The BICOMP model was developed at UC Davis as a model for teaching science in a multicultural, multilingual context, and applied in elementary classrooms in surrounding districts. CONNECTION TO LITERACY The article addresses issues that are central to literacy development for bilingual students. A model of science teaching that does not address the needs of students who are English language learners, is not complete. Science teaching must promote literacy skills, as well as concept understanding for all students, and cannot accomplish this without addressing the particular needs of students in the science classroom who are simultaneously learning English and science. The BICOMP model, and sheltered constructivism in general, apply a communicative approach to science teaching that emphasizes exploration, investigation, and reflection, all shaped by student interests and guided by the teacher. The potential for success is high as students are
guided through a learning process that is shaped by their interests, and that is designed to simultaneously promote literacy skills and content knowledge. SIGNIFICANCE I believe that it is essential for all teachers to be exposed to teaching techniques that are appropriate in a multi-cultural, multi-lingual environment. Even though this article was based on a study in elementary schools, it provides valuable insight for all science teachers. I am very appreciative of any models for science teaching that address the needs of English language learners without reverting to a basic skills/memorization approach. This article shows how to teach literacy, English language development, and science content all together, and how to do this using an inquiry-based and student-centered approach.
The Self-Regulated Learner Advantage: Learning Science on the Internet by Jace Hargis, Ph.D. University of North Florida http://unr.edu/homepage/crowther/ejse/hargis.html SUMMARY This article discusses the results of a study of internet based learning. The article examines the effects of self-regulation on learning outcomes in online education. It describes the reasons the Internet can be so compelling as an educational tool. Some of the reasons discussed include students as active participants, motivational influence of authentic learning activities, student inquiry and cooperative learning, and improved assessment of student progress, a higher equity of access, and an infinite resource. (These last two reasons seem particularly open to debate. They are not necessarily true, but were assumed so by the author. I believe this is related to the fact that the study was an examination of post-secondary education. The same assumptions certainly do not apply in secondary education.) The author cites research that shows the benefits of internet technology to learning. She explains that the studies indicate “that technology adds the ability for students to choose how, when, and where they participate in the learning experience.” Furthermore, studies have shown that young people are much more engaged, interested, and excited while learning if it involves the internet. Tasks that seemed boring are made exciting, and previously unavailable information is made accessible. The author notes “There is substantial evidence to suggest that the computer also offers the advantage of making work more stimulating, thereby motivating the individual.” After discussing the benefits of online learning the article turned to the results of the study to determine whether or not “self-regulated learners” possess an advantage when using the internet for education. If the benefits of online education were available only to those who had sophisticated self-regulating abilities, it would be lost those who need it most. If students do not have the support they need, and are not able to regulate their own learning, the potential of technology to enhance learning could turn into a major roadblock for the most academically needy students. After substantial data analysis, the author comes to the conclusion that in her study, all learning styles benefited from online educational opportunities. CONNECTION TO LITERACY The ability to use technology, especially the Internet, is very important for the academic success of all students. The web can be a thrilling tool for literacy and content knowledge development at all levels of education. But, as the author of the article notes, there has been very little research about what types of learning styles are most compatible with online learning. This is important to understand, especially if educators promote the internet as a learning tool and a positive learning environment for all students, not just those who are highly self-regulating in their approach to learning. SIGNIFICANCE Even though this study was done at the post-secondary level, the questions it raises are very relevant to middle and high school education. Unfortunately, the conclusions were less interesting than the questions themselves. As educators, we must know whether online learning is actually creating barriers, rather than tearing down the barriers, for some of the most
academically needy students. Technology is extremely exciting as a tool in promoting literacy and learning across the curriculum. But it is much less exciting if it turns out that it is actually making learning more difficult for many students. Most students at the middle and high school level do not have highly developed self-regulating abilities when it comes to learning. So these questions are very important. Unfortunately, it turns out that almost all of the subjects of the study were determined to be “self-regulating” learners. This seems to render the results almost meaningless. As I said, the questions are relevant and important, and they remain unresolved.
5 LESSON PLANS REVIEWS & CRITIQUES
BEANS AND GENES/GENETIC PROBABILITY http://www.iit.edu/%7Esmile/bi8602.html SUMMARY This lesson plan involves an activity to familiarize students with genetic probabilities. They use beans to model simple genetic crosses. The students work in teams of 2-3 students with 2 boxes that represent parental genotypes, as well as 100 red and 100 white beans that represent genes. One color (in this case red) represents the dominant gene (R) and the other color (in this case white) represents the recessive gene (r). The teacher writes the parent genotypes on the board and the students must fill the boxes with red and white beans accordingly. The teacher then gives the students 1 minute to pull two beans at a time (one from each box), and arrange the pairs in rows. They then calculate the ratio of genetic combinations, and give the teacher the raw data so she can calculate the class totals of each genetic combination. Finally, they use a punnet square to determine the expected ratio, and compare this to their observed team ratios, and observed class ratio. The class discusses which are closest to expected ratio and why? POSITIVE ASPECTS This seems like a great activity. Genetic concepts can be very difficult for young students to grasp because most of the processes occur on a micro-level within organisms. These processes are unobservable. We can observe the outcomes (people‟s and other organisms‟ traits), but not the actual processes themselves. Furthermore, genetics is often represented mathematically which can be even more intimidating and off-putting to students. This activity allows students to do „hands-on‟ work with an otherwise inaccessible concept. It gets students using both their hands and their minds to make sense of important concepts such as genotype, dominant, recessive, probability, and ratios. DEVELOPMENT AREAS I really like this activity. It has a lot of potential to develop student understanding of difficult concepts. However, there is also potential for students to follow the steps of the activity without really understanding what they are doing and how the bean models represent real biological phenomena. Students who are very good at following directions may complete the activity successfully without knowing what they are doing and why. This might be avoided if the teacher solicits student ideas about how to show genetic concepts, encourages a lot of brainstorming, and allows students to experiment with making their own bean model before or after presenting this activity. APPLICATIONS If I were doing this activity I might try, as I described above, to initiate discussion and studentled investigation before presenting this activity. It could be a culminating activity. Or, alternatively, I might use it as an introductory activity to introduce students to genetic probabilities before they learn the concepts. If so, I would engage them in discussion after the activity to promote their thinking about the meaning of what they did. Either way, the activity would have to be embedded within a series of lessons and discussions that prompted students to explore the concepts thoroughly.
CANDY DNA AND REPLICATION http://www.accessexcellence.org/AE/ATG/data/released/0185-EllenMayo/index.html SUMMARY Students use candy to make a model of DNA and DNA replication. They create a double stranded DNA fragment, make the complementary strands, and then “unzip” the original DNA strands and “synthesize” the new ones. Twizzlers are used to represent the DNA backbone, and colored mini-marshmallows are used to represent the bases. The students demonstrate the process of DNA synthesis to their teacher, including the „lag” strand and Okazaki fragments. POSITIVE ASPECTS This activity has the potential to be an engaging and fun way for students to explore a microbiological process that they cannot otherwise observe. Having the students synthesize the DNA themselves allows them to think about the process in a concrete way, develop a mental picture of what they are studying, and actually engage in manipulating representative objects. DEVELOPMENT AREAS This activity may be overwhelming and difficult for the students if they approach it without first being comfortable and knowledgeable about the concepts. It does not seem at all practical as an introductory activity. In fact, even with some knowledge of DNA and DNA replication, this activity may be excessively complicated, especially if the teacher over-emphasizes the details. For example, having the students demonstrate synthesis of „lag” strands and Okazaki fragments seems impractical and doomed to confuse the students. Also, it does not seem practical to have each student group demonstrate to the teacher the process of synthesis. The teacher will be running between groups, unable to spend enough time with each group to fully evaluate each of their models. APPLICATIONS If I used this activity I would first make, or acquire, a large model to use as a demonstration. I would make sure the students were familiar and comfortable with what each part of the model represented. Instead of having the groups demonstrate the synthesis to me, I would have them draw and label a diagram of their model in each of several stages. I might also have them work in groups to develop and perform a skit of DNA replication using foam balls and foam “wands” instead of candy.
COMPETITION, MUTUALISM, AND MORE http://www.ecologycenter.org/tfs/science/science.html#competition SUMMARY Students are introduced to concepts such as competition, mutualism, predation, and parasitism through a short reading and worksheet exercise. They then respond to several questions about the relationships in their own lives, and finally create a diagram that uses the individual relationships in their lives as analogies for mutualism, competition, and the other evolutionary relationships in nature that they are studying. They use their diagrams to explore this variety of relationships and interactions among organisms in ecosystems. POSITIVE ASPECTS I love the idea of introducing a science concept by analogy to everyday life. I think it is a wonderful way to get the students engaged in learning, and interested in the topic. Having the students answer questions about their lives, as well as represent their answers in drawing/diagram form encourages thinking about the concept at hand, as well as active selfreflection. In terms of the organization of the lesson, the lesson plan is very complete. It includes an introduction to the relevant science concepts, as well as a description of each type of relationship being examined, and examples from a variety of ecosystems. It has a worksheet for the students, as well as a complete set of questions for the students to answer that relate the concepts to their everyday lives. DEVELOPMENT AREAS The only aspects of this lesson that I have a problem with is the amount and density of the reading, and the lack of a creative format for engaging students in the science component of the lesson. There is a substantial amount of reading involved in the lesson, and the explanation of the science content is only reading and answering questions. Students may become bored and bogged down by the reading before getting to the analogy part. APPLICATIONS I would use the analogy activity as a way to start the lesson. Before introducing the students to any of the ideas in the lesson, I would ask them to do a short free-write in their journals about competition and cooperation. I would then read to them the mini-story presented at the beginning of the lesson*, and ask them to write their responses (brief) in their journals. I would ask several students to share their responses, and encourage a class discussion of the ideas. I would then have them answer the questions and make the diagram about relationships in their own lives. Finally, I would introduce the science concepts at the end, or the following day. Additionally, they would make a new diagram showing relationships in a familiar ecosystem so that the science component of the lesson was not entirely reading and writing. * Two men take off running when a vicious dog leaps a nearby fence. One man cries to his friend, “It’s
no good, we’ll never outrun the dog.” “I don’t have to,” replies the friend. “I only have to outrun you.” In the game of survival, might cooperation between the two men lead them to a better outcome?
BIODIVERSITY ACTIVITIES http://www.accessexcellence.org/AE/ATG/data/released/0534-KathyParis/index.html SUMMARY This is a set of two activities about biodiversity. In the first one students are given a bottle filled with beans and seeds (to represent the diversity of species in an ecosystem). They use simple math to calculate the diversity index of their bottle, and then determine which ecosystem their bottle represents. In the second one students simulate the spread of disease in a biologically diverse ecosystem (such as an old growth forest) and in an ecosystem characterized by monoculture (such as a new growth forest of Douglas Fir trees). They are given cards with 1 side marked D (Douglas Fir) on all cards, and the other side marked with different letters on each card symbolizing different species of trees. The students then walk around the room and do an activity in which they simulate death from disease that spreads among like trees. The activity is repeated, with slight alterations, for each side of the card. In this way the students see that disease spreads much faster through a monoculture ecosystem. POSITIVE ASPECTS This set of activities is a good way to get students to work out the meaning of biodiversity through developing concrete understandings. Acting out a simulation of the spread of disease may encourage students to engage both mentally and physically with the concepts they are learning. Analyzing the contents of a bottle, doing calculations, and moving around the room are all ways to spark students‟ interest. DEVELOPMENT AREAS There is a lot of potential for the students to go through the motions of these activities without really getting interested in the content of what they are learning. There is nothing in the activity set to draw students in if they are not already interested by the topic. The activities encourage „hands-on‟ and kinesthetic learning, but they do not make connections to the students‟ lives. Even after counting beans and seeds, and acting out a simulation of spreading tree disease, the students could be mentally and emotionally distant from the ideas. The concept of biodiversity could still seem abstract and irrelevant to many of them. APPLICATIONS I don‟t think I would alter the activity substantially. But, if I were to bring this activity into the classroom, I would only do so after engaging the students in an introductory activity to spark personal interest in the topic. Biodiversity is not unrelated to our everyday lives, and there are a number of ways to make individual and social connections to the issue. I might take students around the schoolyard to identify organisms and estimate species numbers in the local ecosystem. Alternatively, I might assign a homework assignment that involves an investigation of their neighborhood environment. During the actual activity, local species could replace Douglas Firs and old growth forests, if possible.
AN EVOLUTIONARY “EXQUISITE CORPSE” http://www.ecologycenter.org/tfs/science/2002spring/science_2002spring.html#humans SUMMARY Students collectively write a serial story about the anthropogenic changes a local plot of land undergoes and the adaptability of the species that live there. As a pre-activity each student visits, observes closely, and then writes a detailed description of a local plot of land (local creek, park, vacant lot, their yard). As a group the class brainstorms possible human alterations to natural environments. The students then make a circle and pass each of their descriptions around the circle, stopping as each student adds a paragraph in response to questions about the effects of human alterations to the area. In the end the students have collectively written a story. They also have the option to illustrate the stories if interested. POSITIVE ASPECTS This activity is multi-faceted and interesting. I like the activity because it engages the students in thinking about their own prior knowledge, in investigations of their local environment, and in a creative storytelling process that involves applied thinking, narrative writing, and illustration. This activity emphasizes student-centered learning. The process focuses on students as sources of knowledge, and creativity, and as the generative forces in observation, analysis, and story telling. I think it has a lot of potential. DEVELOPMENT AREAS My only concerns about this lesson are the discomfort some students might feel about sharing their writing with others in the class, and the dependency of the lesson on completion of homework pre-activity. The lesson would suffer if many of the students did not do the homework. The lesson could be enhanced by the addition of a workable in-class alternative to the pre-activity. APPLICATIONS I would bring this activity into the classroom as is. Depending on the writing proficiency in the classroom, I might offer students the option of writing a detailed description, or of drawing a detailed picture of the local plot of land. If they feel more comfortable drawing, then I would ask them to write a short description to accompany their drawing, but they would not have to share this description with the class during the story-writing exercise.
5 LESSON PLANS 7th Grade Life Science
Simone Masson Curriculum Guide Lesson Plan Subject Area: Life Science Unit: Evolution Grade Level: 7th Students: 28 Time: 60 min.
HOW LONG IS LONG AGO?
An introductory exploration of evolutionary time Objective: Students will be able to place their lives in the span of human history, place human history in the span of earth history, and explain in their own words the meaning of these numbers and dates. Standards Addressed: 1. Evidence from rocks allows us to understand the evolution of life on Earth. As a basis for understanding this concept: Students know that evidence from geologic layers and radioactive dating indicates Earth is approximately 4.6 billion years old and that life on this planet has existed for more than 3 billion years. (CSS, 4d, p.23) 2. Students know how to explain significant developments and extinctions of plant and animal life on the geologic time scale. (CSS, 4g, p.24) Materials: CD player, Digable Planets reachin’ CD, 45 yards of string, ruler, scissors, tape.
Notes: Play the entire song. There are also lyrics of interest towards the end of the song. It is a good idea to clear off 1 length of a classroom wall for the timeline exercise.
Intro: As students come in they are handed their journals. As soon as everyone is ready, they listen to Digable Planets‟ “examination of what” song, and respond in their journals to the question on the board: What do you think they mean when they say, “we‟re just babies?” (8 min.) 1. Explain to students that in order to study evolution, they have to go back in time billions of years. As a way to help conceptualize this time scale the class will make a timeline out of string, as follows: I. Take a poll and find out students‟ average age. Cut a piece of yarn (one inch equals 50 years) to represent this age and tape it to the extreme right side of a wall. Label the right edge “Today.” II. Ask students the age of the oldest person they know, take the oldest age, cut a piece of yarn to represent this age, and tape it just below the other piece. III. Ask students for the oldest event they can think of that took place in the history of the United States. Determine the date, subtract it from this year, and cut a piece of yarn to represent that length of time. Tape it just below the others. V. Repeat the same process for a couple of other important dates and events that interest the students, and finally ask the students if they can determine the length of yarn needed to represent the age of life on earth (3.5 bya), as well as the age of human life (2 mya). (20 min.)
2. Ask students to copy this timeline into their journals in any form that makes sense to them, e.g. as is (a timeline), a non-linear timeline, a drawing, a brief statement etc. (2 min.) 3. Put important dates in human, as well as earth history on the board, for example, the ancient civilizations: Mayan (~800ya), Chinese (~3,700ya), Indus Valley (~4,000ya), Egypt (~5,000 ya); Important geologic events: Mesozoic era (245 - 66.4 mya), first vertebrates (500 mya), whales evolve (50 mya), end of the last ice age (10,000 ya). Ask students to locate them on the class timeline and then place them into the timelines in their journals. (5 min.); 4. Replay the beginning of DP song, and ask students to consider if their responses have changed since the beginning of class. Ask them to record their thoughts in their journals, and to respond to the question: How would you explain to a friend or family member about what you learned today? (can be statement, poem, drawing). Have students share their responses in small groups and come up with one fast, nonverbal, way to represent their ideas to the class. (20 min.) 5. Explain the homework: Students can choose to do one of two homework assignments: Use the internet to find lyrics to a song, or find an article that makes reference to time (as in the passage of time, historical time, historical eras, time travel etc.) and write a short summary, and your response (2 paragraphs minimum); OR create a drawing, diagram, painting, or collage (no words) that represents the ideas you learned today, and the concept of evolutionary time. (5 min.) Follow-up and Homework: 1. Students will be asked to refer to their timelines throughout the unit. 2. Students will complete the day‟s homework as described above. Assessment: Teacher evaluates journal timelines and homework assignment, and observation of small group work. Literacy: Students listen to music and reflect in writing in their journals as a way to initiate thought and encourage self-expression. Students create a visual timeline, as well as a nonverbal expression of their ideas. Both of these activities encourage students to identify their own learning strengths, and give students tools for reading, understanding, and interpreting written texts. The homework encourages the students to think about the information learned in class in a way that is interesting to them, as well as to think about science and history in new ways. Reflection: I don‟t want the students to get bogged down in dates. It is a good idea if the teacher keeps them going, and doesn‟t let the class get hung up on particular dates or events.
Simone Masson Curriculum Guide Lesson Plan Subject Area: Life Science Unit: Evolution Grade Level: 7th Students: 28 Time: 60 min.
HOW DO WE KNOW HOW LONG IS LONG AGO?
Objective: Students will be able to define radioactive carbon-dating, perform basic calculations for determining age with carbon-dating, and cite relevant applications. Standards Addressed: 1. Evidence from rocks allows us to understand the evolution of life on Earth. As a basis for understanding this concept: Students know that evidence from geologic layers and radioactive dating indicates Earth is approximately 4.6 billion years old and that life on this planet has existed for more than 3 billion years. (CSS, 4d, p.23) 2. The science program should be coordinated with the mathematics program to enhance student use and understanding of mathematics in the study of science and to improve student understanding of mathematics. (NSES, Program Standard C, p.214) Materials: 2 objects per student (e.g. an LP, rocks, a fossil, a piece of bark), 50 pennies, 50 small wooden cubes (approximately 1 cm on a side), one face of each cube colored red. Worksheet on strategies for word problems, worksheet with 5 word problems, calculators. Notes: Make sure homework assignment is written on the board before class starts. The students will have encountered today‟s concepts in their readings from last night.
Intro: Teacher passes out 2 objects to each student. As students arrive, they will be handed their journals, and asked to respond to the following question (on the board): “How old do you think each of these objects are? Why? Write at least three observations about each object that helped you decide.” Teacher encourages students to examine objects as thoroughly as possible. (5 min.) 1. Teacher asks several students for their answers. Records on board. Class discusses the answers and tries to determine the most accurate way to measure the age of the objects. Teacher asks students to consider the question “How do scientists know the age of the earth?” (10 min.) 2. Teacher presents and explains radioactive carbon-dating. (5 min.)
3. Penny & cube demonstration: Teacher explains that she will be tossing 50 pennies and removing any that land tails up. Reminds class that when you toss a penny, the probability of either heads or tails is always 1/2, and asks if anyone can predict, based on this probability, how many tosses it will take until all of the pennies are removed? Writes students‟ predictions on the board and then does demonstration as follows: I. Tosses the pennies onto a table surface. Has 2 students remove all of the pennies that land with their tail side up, and put them flat on the left edge of the table, arranged in a tall column. II. Gathers up the remaining pennies and tosses them again. Again, students remove the pennies that land tail-side-up, and arrange them in a second column, right beside the first column. Repeats until all of the pennies have been removed. If no pennies come up tails on a toss, leaves an empty column. III. Asks students to count the columns (including empty ones) and records numbers on the board. Checks results against student predictions. IV. Explains that the probability for a cube to land red-side-up is 1/6. Asks for prediction of how many tosses to remove all cubes. V. Repeats, this time uses the cubes (removes cubes that land red-side up). 4. Explains to class that this is an example of exponential decay. Each time you toss the remaining pennies, about half of them are removed. The time it takes for one half of the remaining pennies to be removed is called the half-life. The half-life of the pennies in this model is about one toss. What is the half-life of the cubes? (20 min.) 5. Writes a carbon-dating word problem on the board and asks students how they would approach this problem. Asks them to write down in their notebooks 5 things, in order, that they do when they see a problem like this. Gives example of: 1. Read heading above problem 2. Decide what the problem is asking for, etc. (5 min.) 6. Passes out problem solving worksheets. Students work on worksheets in groups. (10 min.) 7. Go over strategies as a class. Go over problem on board as a class. Hands out problem worksheets. Explains that students can begin working individually, and will complete worksheet as homework. (10 min.) Follow Up and Homework: 1. As homework, students will complete worksheet with 5 word problems, and questions about how they solved each problem. 2. As a project, students will be expected to bring in at least one news or journal article that discusses radioactive decay and/or carbon dating, and write an explanation of how they figured out the meaning of each paragraph in the article (not due immediately). Assessment: Teacher evaluates problem solving worksheets, homework assignments, and checks journal notes for completion. Literacy: Students begin to familiarize themselves with scientific writing as they record observations about an object in their journals. The class time and worksheet about strategies for solving science word problems provides students with tools for tackling word problems in both science and mathematics, and the homework worksheet gives them an opportunity to practice their new skills. The news article project is an opportunity to practice metacognition as a tool to improve reading for understanding, and critical reading skills. Reflection: The lesson is tight, and everything has to proceed fairly quickly so as not to get behind.
Simone Masson Curriculum Guide Lesson Plan Subject Area: Life Science Unit: Ecology Grade Level: 7th Students: 28 Time: 60 min.
WEAVING A FOOD WEB
Objective: Students will be able to make a diagram that shows what a food web is and how energy moves through a food web, identify the 3 categories of organisms in food webs, and explain what happens to organisms in a food web if one is removed. Standards Addressed: 1. One of the most general distinctions among organisms is between plants, which use sunlight to make their own food, and animals, which consume energy rich foods. (BSL 5a, p.104) 2. Energy entering ecosystems as sunlight is transformed by producers into chemical energy through photosynthesis and then transferred from organism to organism through food webs. (CSS 5a, p.20) Materials, Preparation, and References: 1. 6 long pieces (~2 yards) each of 5 different colors of yarn (e.g. 3 pieces of green, 6 of yellow, 6 of orange, 6 of red, 5 of brown). 1 set of cards (see below). 2. Transparency pictures of food webs. 3. Make 1 set of cards depicting organisms in a familiar ecosystem, including some of each type. For example: 3 producers, 3 each of 1st, 2nd and 3rd level consumers, 3 decomposers and one card representing the sun. 4. Prepare yarn and cards by paper-clipping the 3 green strands to the sun card, 2 yellow strands to each producer, 2 orange strands to each 1st level consumer, 2 red strands to each 2nd level consumer, and 1 brown strand to 1 or 2 of the producers, and to 1 of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd level consumers. STEPS Intro: Asks several students what they had for dinner last night and records on board as a list. Asks students the names of plants, animals, or other organisms that are the source of each food item and records answers on board under each item. Asks students the names of plants, animals, or other organisms that are the foods for the „source‟ items, if applicable. Records answers on board and tells students they will return to this later. (5 min.) 1. Distributes eco-system cards with attached yarn face down, randomly amongst 1/2 of students. Asks students to turnover their cards and show neighbor if neighbor doesn‟t have one. I. Asks several students what is on their cards? Records the answers on the board in 3 categories: producers, consumers, and decomposers. Asks for suggestions about who is eating whom? II. Takes students‟ suggestions and draws arrows from the organisms being eaten to the eaters. III. Asks students if they see a pattern? What kinds of organisms are doing all the eating? What kinds are getting eaten? What are the plants “eating”? What do the arrows show? (5 min.)
2. Explains that students will come back to this later after they do an activity to explore their ideas further. Gives directions: Not all students will participate. Those who don‟t will have to observe very closely. Students with cards make their cards visible (w/tape if necessary) and form a circle. They go around the circle, identify their organism, and make sure (with teacher assistance if necessary) that everyone knows what each one is. The student with the sun card holds one end of their strings and passes the free ends to students who represent things that depend on the sun for survival, such as plants like a tree, grass or flower. The „plants‟ then hold onto the yarn they were just passed as well as one end of their own yarn while passing the other end of their yarn to others in the circle who represent things that may eat the plant, such as a small mammal or insect. These students hold onto new yarn as well as one end of their own yarn while passing the other end to others that may eat them such as a snake or raccoon, and so on until all students except the decomposers are holding at least 1 strand of yarn. Finally, each student with a brown yarn passes one end to 1 of the decomposers. (Students may need help identifying the decomposers). Asks for student questions, clarifies if necessary. (5 min.) 3. Students do activity. Teacher monitors, encourages, and assists if students get stuck. (10 min.) 4. Once every student is holding a strand of the web, asks students to take a step back to tighten the web. I. Asks students to describe what has been created. Encourages a brief discussion of what they have made, what it looks like. II. Ask students to consider: What does the passing of yarn represent? Are the different colors important? Why did it pass from, for example, the grass to the mouse to the snake to the hawk? Why not the other way around? III. Asks 1 student to gently tug the yarn. Asks how many students feel the pull? IV. Asks 1 student to leave web, and each student who is connected to that student to drop their yarn. Asks students what happens to the web? Asks students what factors in a real system may cause the „removed‟ organism to go away? (7 min.) 5. Uses transparencies to go over food webs. Uses concrete examples and refers back to activity and list of organisms and student ideas/discussion of who eats whom and why. (10 min.) 6. Reviews and asks students to consider, based on their dinners, what type of organisms are we (humans), producers, consumers, or decomposers? (5 min.) 7. Asks students to answer the following questions by making a diagram (Qs 1 and 2), labeling it (Q. 3) and writing 2-4 sentences (Q. 4): 1.What is a food web? 2. How does energy flow through a food web? 3. What are the 3 main categories of organisms? 4. What happens to other organisms if one is removed? Writes the questions and a list of familiar organisms on the board for them to use in their diagram. (8 min.) 8. Wraps up, collects summaries, assigns homework (as below). (5 min.) Follow-up and Homework: 1. Teacher assesses student understanding, and if necessary, provides a follow-up activity in which the students who did not participate today repeat the webbing activity in class. 2. In an activity summary with words and pictures students show what a food web is, how energy moves through a food web, identify the 3 main categories of organisms in food webs, and explain what happens to other organisms if one is removed.
2. As homework, students will draw a food web for an ecosystem of their choice and identify at least 1 organism for each group: producer, consumer (herbivore, omnivore, carnivore, scavenger), decomposer, and the overall source of energy for the food web. 3. As a long term project students will make a poster depicting a food web in the habitat of a local endangered species, identify the threats to the species, and predict what may happen to other organisms in the habitat if the species is removed. (New concepts such as habitat and endangered species will be introduced in the next lesson.) Assessment: Teacher evaluates in class diagram/writing, homework assignment, and project. Literacy: Students experience different ways of thinking about scientific concepts, and are encouraged to experiment with multiple ways to express scientific ideas. The poster project is also important as a way to familiarize students with environmental issues, and encourage their thinking about scientific issues of social, political, and personal relevance. Reflection: The lesson is fairly tight, everything has to proceed quickly, and the teacher has to be on top of the progress of the activity to insure that students are understanding what they are doing, and do not get side tracked while moving around, and while up-and-about in the classroom.
Simone Masson Curriculum Guide Lesson Plan Subject Area: Life Science Unit: cellular biology Grade Level: 7th Students: 28 Time: 60 min.
Objective: Students will be able to explain what mitosis is, why it is an important part of cell division, and how it relates to common human experiences such as a healing cut, or growing hair. They will also be able to construct a simple labeled model of one stage of mitosis. Standards Addressed: 1. All organisms are composed of cells-the fundamental unit of life. Most organisms are single cells; other organisms, including humans, are multi-cellular. (NSES, C p.156) 2. Cells divide to increase their numbers through a process of mitosis, which results in two daughter cells with identical sets of chromosomes. (CSS 1e, p.22) 3. Construct scale models, maps, and appropriately labeled diagrams to communicate scientific knowledge. (CSS 7d, p.25) Materials, Preparation, and References: 1. 40 pieces each of 3 different colors of twizzlers, 40 fruit rollups. 2. Computer with access to the internet and LCD projector. 3. Prepare edible mitosis models using above materials: Place 3 (1 of each color) twizzlers on 1 fruit roll up and place on paper plate or tray. Prepare 1 such “model” per 3 students. 4. 7th grade life sciences textbook, Cells Alive website (http://www.cellsalive.com), Cells Alive “Mitosis Clip” download pre-purchased from site. STEPS Intro: Writes the following terms on the board: growing plant, tumor, growing hair, lizard‟s tail, strep throat, healing cut. Asks several students how many of these things they have seen or experienced? Places check mark next to each one students identify. Tells students they will return to this later. (2 min.) 1. Divides students into groups of 3 and distributes 1 “mitosis model” to each group. Asks students to work in their groups to try to use what they are given to create 2 identical objects from the one given. Explains that the size and shape of the fruit rollup and the length of the twizzler do not matter, as long as both objects have rollups and twizzlers of identical shape and length. Asks for student questions, clarifies if necessary. (3 min.) 2. Students work in groups to make the objects. Teacher monitors, encourages, and assists if students get stuck. (5 min.) 3. Asks if any of the groups have made the identical objects. Asks for volunteers to show the class and explain what they did. Also asks if anyone has thoughts about the activity to share. Can prompt, if necessary, by asking “Was it difficult? Was it simple? Do the objects of different groups look similar?” (5 min.)
4. Collects rollups and twizzlers. Explains that the cells of all living things, including us, are continuously involved in a very similar process. Asks if anyone knows what this is? Takes student‟s suggestions. (1 min.) 5. Writes mitosis on the board. Asks students to write the word in their notebooks. Explains how cell division is part of the cell cycle, and is integral to the life, reproduction, and growth of all organisms. Provides example of a cut healing. (1 min.) 6. Uses the Cells Alive Interactive Mitosis Animation to go over the process of mitosis. Uses the Interactive Cell Cycle Animation on the site to reinforce the place of mitosis in the cell cycle, and the importance of DNA replication before cell division. Asks students to consider what would happen if cell division occurred without prior DNA replication. (13 min.) 7. Uses the „real‟ Mitosis Clip (pre-downloaded from Cells Alive) to compare to animation. Uses the Bacteria Cam and/or Cancer Cell Cam on the website to illustrate cellular replication/ division in the context of a whole organism or tissue. (5 min.) 8. Asks students to use the data displayed with the Bacteria Cam pictures (copies onto board if necessary) to calculate how long it takes to double the number of bacteria. (5 min.) 9. Reviews, and asks students to re-visit list from beginning of class: What is the connection between the different things listed on the board at the beginning of class? (5 min.) 10. Asks students to write a brief response (1-3 sentences) to the question (writes on board): “ What is mitosis?” (5 min.) 11. Passes out 1 set of rollups and twizzlers per student. Ask students to use their rollups and twizzlers to make a model of one stage of mitosis, label the parts and identify which stage. Writes stages on board. (5 min.) 12. Collects models, short responses, and tells students that tomorrow in class they will be working in groups to make a short skit showing the stages of mitosis. Explains the homework (as below), and tells students they must also begin brainstorming ideas for a skit. (5 min.) 13. Offers the roll-ups and twizzlers as snacks as students leave. Follow-up and Homework: 1. In class students answer the question “what is mitosis?” and make a simple labeled model of one stage of mitosis. 2. The following day, the class will work in groups to create a skit that introduces mitosis to someone who doesn‟t know anything about it, and shows the stages of mitosis. 3. As homework, the students will make cartoons that explain the process of mitosis and how it relates to familiar experiences (such as healing cuts, growing hair, bone growth etc.) Assessment: Teacher evaluates in class writing, mitosis model, homework, and group work during upcoming skit production. Literacy: Students engage in a variety of non-traditional learning experiences that reinforce inquiry, exploration and creativity as fundamental components of scientific thinking. The homework assignment provides an opportunity for students to experiment with a less formal, potentially more comfortable and interesting writing style, and at the same time demands that they grasp the relevant concepts. Reflection: There may be some problems with providing students with a sugary snack. Teacher should check ahead of time to be sure that none of the students are diabetic, or have other issues of concern. If necessary the twizzlers and fruit rollups can be replaced with a sugarfree or even a non-edible alternative.
Simone Masson Curriculum Guide Lesson Plan Subject Area: Life Science Unit: Properties of substances Grade Level: 7th Students: 28 Time: 60 min.
Objective: Students will be able to explain what density is, how it can be calculated, and why objects of different sizes may have similar densities. They will also be able to cite the results of this laboratory experiment in describing why some objects float in water while others of similar size and shape sink. Standards Addressed: 1. A substance has characteristic properties, such as density, a boiling point, and solubility, all of which are independent of the amount of sample. A mixture of substances often can be separated into the original substances using one or more of the characteristic properties. (NSES, (5-8) p.154) 2. Students know density is mass per unit volume. Students know how to calculate the density of substances (regular and irregular solids and liquids) from measurements of mass and volume. (CSS, 8a-b, p. 38) 3. Read analog and digital meters on instruments used to make direct measurements of length, volume, weight, elapsed time, rates, and temperature, and choose appropriate units for reporting various magnitudes. (BSL, (6-8) p.294 Materials, Equipment, and Preparation: 1. For the teacher: 1 „density column‟ of corn syrup, cooking oil, and milk; 1 piece of cork, 1 candle (cut into large & small pieces), and 1 marble; Data table transparency; Paper towels. 2. For the students: 7 balances (1 per 4 students); 28 mini Snickers, 28 mini Three Musketeers, and 28 regular Three Musketeers bars; 14 labeled plastic cups each of: water, milk, corn syrup, and cooking oil; 7 plastic trays; 14 plastic tongs; paper towels; disposal bucket (if no sink); 28 plastic metric rulers; 28 Density Worksheets. 3. Before class: Print and copy Density Worksheets, Make a density column by layering corn syrup, oil, and milk in a large, clear cylinder. Prepare and label the 14 cups of each liquid, place on trays (1 tray per group of 4 students) with paper towels (1 per student) and tongs (1 per 2 students). Arrange tables so students sit in groups of 4, with 1 balance per group, teacher can move easily around room, and there is a countertop in the middle of the room to place the demonstration density column so it is easily visible to all students. Check integrity of balances. STEPS
PRE-LAB (15 min.)
Intro: Displays density column as seen and observed the previous day. *(see notes) I. Asks students what will happen if a piece of cork is dropped into column (holds up cork to show)? Takes several suggestions, drops cork into the density column.
II. What about a piece of candle? Shows candle, takes small piece, shows it, takes suggestions, drops in. III. What about a bigger candle? Takes much bigger piece, shows it, takes suggestions, drops in. IV. What about a marble? Again, shows and drops in. 1. Asks students to record observations in their notebooks, and consider the question why do the objects sink to different levels? 2. Encourages short discussion of ideas. Asks several students for their ideas about what they observed. Where did each object settle? Why did this happen? Makes sure students address question: What about the candle pieces of different sizes? 3. Reviews concept of density and asks if the students believe the formula they used yesterday for the liquids (Density=Mass/Volume) can be applied to solid objects? Tells students that today they will have a chance to explore these ideas further, and do some tests and calculations themselves with candy bars and liquids. 4. Explains that the calculations will involve making length, height and width measurements using rulers, calculating volume using the formula LXWXH, and making mass measurements using balances. Reviews reading rulers in cm, using the above formula for calculating volume, and proper use of balances. 5. Tells students they will work in pairs to check each other, but each student will perform procedure. Explains the procedures are in 2 parts. Part I will go as follows: Measure and record the length, width and height of each candy bar. Calculate and record the volume using the formula LXWXH. Measure and record the mass of each candy bar using the balance. Once they have the volume and mass of all the bars, they will calculate and record the density of each bar using the formula D=M/V. Stresses that they will check each other‟s measurements at each step, each person is responsible for recording the information on their own worksheet, and they will be sharing 1 balance per group. Part II will go as follows: Use the calculated densities of the bars to predict whether or not they will float or sink in water, milk, oil, and corn syrup. (Reminds students that they calculated the densities of these liquids in yesterday‟s lab, and determined an average density from class results.) Record predictions and short explanation. When everyone has recorded predictions, teacher passes out 1 cup of each liquid to pairs of students. They test their predictions and record observations. They can then remove candy bar (w/tongs) from liquid, break into 1/2, and draw what they see. LAB (30 min.) 6. Distributes worksheet. Asks students to look over, familiarize themselves with worksheet, and fill in the density values for the liquids (from yesterday notes). As students look over worksheet and fill in densities, distributes candy bars and rulers. 7. Students do lab as teacher monitors techniques, especially measuring in cm and proper use of balance. Insures that students are checking each other, and recording measurements on worksheets. Assists slower pairs, encourages faster pairs to fully discuss their predictions and their reasoning. 8. At 13 minutes, collects rulers, and balances. Confirms that all students have predictions for part II. Asks 1 or 2 pairs to tell the class what they think will happen. While they talk, passes out cups of liquids on trays (1 tray per group). 9. Monitors as students test their predictions. Insures that students are recording results, and placing each candy bar in each liquid.
10. At 23 minutes, collects liquids, disposes down sink. POST-LAB (15 min.) 11. Asks students: What did you want to learn in this lab? How did you calculate density? Asks students for their density results from part I. Records on data table. Says they will calculate a class average for the density of each candy bar. Solicits student assistance with determining average. 12. Compares the densities of mini & regular Three Musketeers bars. Asks for students‟ ideas about this matter. How can they have the same (hopefully) density but be so much different in size? 13. Asks several students for predictions? Did they test true or not? Why or why not? What might explain your observations from part II? How does the density of the bars relate to your observations in part II? Do the densities of the liquids matter? In terms of your observations from part II, what is the relationship between the densities of the liquids and solid objects? How does what you did in the lab relate to what you observed in the density column demo at the beginning of class? Probes for complete responses to all questions. 14. Tell students their homework is to complete the Density Worksheets and to write a 1paragraph summary about what they learned in class today. In their summary they must address the following questions. The summary can be written in any format the student wants (poem, letter, journal article, expository etc.), as long as the questions are answered. Writes on board: What is density? How do you find the density of a substance? How can objects of similar size have different densities? How can objects of different size have similar densities? Explain how a large inflatable ball can float better in water than a marble? Follow-up and Homework: 1. As homework students will complete Density Worksheets, and write a summary (any format) of what they learned addressing the questions listed above. 2. As a project students will begin work on a letter to a friend (a younger friend who has not yet learned about density) that explains the concept of density, describes what they did in this lab, and cites the results of this lab in describing why some objects float in water while others of similar size and shape sink. Assessment: Teacher evaluates worksheets, homework, and letter to a friend. Literacy: Students engage in a variety of writing activities that encourage writing that is comfortable for them, and at the same time displays knowledge and higher-order thinking. The assignments encourage student expression, creative thinking, self-confidence, and concept understanding, and at the same time challenge the notion that learning science must be boring and formalized. Reflection: This lab is the third in a series of density lessons. It assumes that students have already explored the concept of density in 2 prior lessons/activities. In the first, students were shown a density column and were given time to observe closely, discuss, and explore their ideas about it without being officially introduced to the concept of density. In the second, they explored the idea of density, the expression D=M/V, and worked with the liquids from a density column, measuring volume and mass, and calculating density.
5 RESOURCES FOR SCIENCE TEACHERS
THE ECOLOGY CENTER
http://www.ecologycenter.org SUMMARY The Ecology Center is a nonprofit environmental community organization based in Berkeley. The center hosts the environmental issues magazine Terrain. There is also Terrain For Schools, an online collection of resources for teaching about the environment in all disciplines. There is a special section for teaching about war and the environment. There are lesson plans for social sciences, language arts, and science. The collection of science lesson plans includes lessons in biology, physical sciences, earth science, and, of course, they all relate to environmental issues. I have found lessons on GMOs, on competition and mutualism in ecosystems, on weather, on water, and on salmon. POSITIVE ASPECTS The ecology center is a wonderful resource across all disciplines. This is a great resource if you are interested in integrating social and environmental issues into your teaching in a meaningful and engaging way. The lessons plans are very complete, usually including worksheets, background reading, stories, illustrations and activities. Many of them are correlated to California standards. They show an extreme amount of thoughtfulness about ways to engage students in deep, critical thinking, and authentic learning. DEVELOPMENT AREAS The number of lesson plans is limited, and some of the topics are very abstract. I would like to see even more lessons that focus on topics relevant to students‟ lives and experiences. USE IN MY CLASSROOM I would use many of these lesson plans in full as activities to get my students thinking more deeply about the meaning of what they are learning for themselves and society.
AQUATIC OUTREACH INSTITUTE
SUMMARY The Aquatic Outreach Institute provides workshops for teachers, resources for teachers, and guest speakers in aquatic biology. They focus on creek ecosystems and watersheds. They can offer training in how to integrate creek studies in the classroom, like doing water testing, creek investigations, and even creek-centered art such as murals. Their workshops for teachers are enjoyable, and after the workshop teachers have access to a wide variety of resources, including guest speakers, working watershed models, and creek kits. They even offer the opportunity for teachers and students to raise tadpoles of native threatened frog species in the classroom for release in local creeks. POSITIVE ASPECTS The institute has a lot to offer teachers. As I mentioned above, their workshops are fun, day long trainings and open the door to a wide variety of resources. I especially liked the idea of raising frogs in the classroom for release, and connecting this to the study of ecology in a LOCAL context. The watershed model is very appealing to students, and the ideas are applicable to social science, language arts, and math as well as science, at all grade levels. DEVELOPMENT AREAS The only drawback to the institute is the fact that they focus on k-6. There is some crossover to middle school, but most of their activities are geared to a younger audience, and need to be “enhanced” for use in secondary classrooms. And, they are out in Richmond. They are definitely a little known resource! USE IN MY CLASSROOM As I said, I like the tadpole raising activity, and would definitely bring this into my classroom. Also, the watershed model is very exciting to students, and concepts of topography, mapping, watersheds, and pollution are always relevant.
EDUCATORS FOR SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
http://www.esrnational.org SUMMARY Educators For Social Responsibility provides a wide range of resources to teachers who are interested in issues of social justice in relation to education. They offer papers that address important topics such as classroom discipline, assessment, and curriculum design. They have lesson plans on various social issues. They offer workshops and seminars on current issues in educational reform. And, they provide links to many other social justice oriented organizations in education and beyond. POSITIVE ASPECTS They seem to be dedicated to building student leadership on issues of concern to students. The number of resources offered is overwhelming, though I still consider this to be a positive aspect. One of the neatest parts of their website is the many sections and topics within each grade level. There is a section for middle school and for high school, and within each of these sections there is a wide variety of resources and links. There are sections for teachers, and sections for students. There is a section that focuses on conflict resolution in the classroom, enhancing student confidence and self-esteem, student concerns about educational trends such as testing, and these are just the beginning. ESR is a welcome break from conventional educational organizations that seem far removed from the concerns of young people, and the pressing need to address issues of inequality and injustice within education. DEVELOPMENT AREAS I have few suggestions for improvement. At times, the site is difficult to navigate. It can also be unclear how to get involved in the many opportunities presented on the site. USE IN MY CLASSROOM I would love to attend some of their workshops on building anti-racism into teaching, and I am very interested to read their suggestions about a number of issues in teaching, including classroom management and conflict resolution.
BIOTECH MOBILE KITS
SJSU, Dept. of Chemistry (Biotech Mobile Kits): www.babec.org/sccbep (408)924-4814
SUMMARY The department of chemistry at SJSU offers a program to bring biotechnology resources into secondary school classrooms. They will come to the classroom and set up a biotechnology lab in classrooms around the bay area. POSITIVE ASPECTS This is a great opportunity for students to experience biotechnology hands on. Biotechnology is part of the California science standards in biology, and so must be taught in high school biology courses. However, the equipment to do biotech labs is unavailable to many high schools. This is an opportunity to bring biotech labs into the classroom without being a wealthy or well funded school. DEVELOPMENT AREAS This resource is very limited. It applies only to science teachers, and only to science teachers who are teaching biology. Also, there may be an associated fee. I am unclear whether or not this is the case. IN MY CLASSROOM I would definitely bring the mobile kits to my classroom. However, if I did so, I would also incorporate a study of the social, political, and moral implications of biotechnology into the unit. I believe that it is imperative, even in a science class, to encourage students to consider the social context and meaning of what they are learning.
http://www.exploratorium.edu/snacks/ SUMMARY One of the less well known resources available through the Exploratorium is their large collection of science activities, all designed to inspire interest and awe. They provide free, easily accessible activity descriptions that cover many topics in physical sciences, mostly physics, some chemistry, and very few in biology. The activities include a description of the activity, an explanation of the science involved, a list of materials, and a suggestion about time length. Most of them are adaptable as demonstrations or as labs. POSITIVE ASPECTS Most of these activities are designed to inspire interest and curiosity. They are fun and engaging. Also, most of the science topics treated relate to everyday experiences. For example, they explore questions of light and color, UV radiation, and balance and motion. Most of all, it is free and easy to access! DEVELOPMENT AREAS Most of the topics are limited to physics. I would love to see more activities for the life sciences. Sometimes, the instructions are a bit difficult to follow, and may be far too difficult to apply directly to a lab where students are doing the activity. The alterations, and additions necessary to make the activities workable for students could take considerable time (it‟s probably worth it). IN MY CLASSROOM I would use some of these activities as demonstrations to catch my students‟ interest, especially for a more abstract topic. If I had time to make major changes to the instructions, I would use them as labs for the students to do.