Thursday, June 28, 2012

Inquiry in Science and in Classrooms

The Nature of Human Inquiry

Humans are innately curious, as anyone knows who has watched a newborn. From birth, children employ trial-and-error techniques to learn about the world around them. As children and as adults, when faced with an unknown situation, we try to determine what is happening and predict what will happen next. We reflect on the world around us by observing, gathering, assembling, and synthesizing information. We develop and use tools to measure and observe as well as to analyze information and create models. We check and re-check what we think will happen and compare results to what we already know. We change our ideas based on what we learn.

This section explains the facts that every teacher needs to remember, that everyone asks questions and we work toward figuring out the answers. As a future teacher I need to take the time to listen to my students and use these questions as teachable moments. Even if I do not know the answers to all the questions that are being asked (which will most likely happen more than I would like to admit) I need to work with them to find the answers, and then it will continue to lead to more questions. Again this will not be for science lessons alone, but it can and should be used in all the lessons throughout the school day. Without having the students speak out about their thoughts and ideas then they won't be as interested to continue their experience learning and researching and working towards furthering their education. This could lead them to finding out something new after the lesson has "completed" in the classroom, but then they are able to continue it at home and possibly even longer after that. I must continue to question the students' ideas to keep them moving forward with research and their own unique ideas, beliefs, and thoughts.

Bulbs and Wires

From class:
Circuits lab

Physical science, content standard B, light, heat, electricity, and magnetism

Electricity and circuits can produce light

Learning goal:
How do you complete a circuit?

Formative assessment:
Collge students thought that we needed 2 wires to make the light bulb light up

Learning performances:
Lighting a light bulb with wire, bulb, and electricity.


Update: 6/28

Inquiry Continuum from doing the experiment in class: making a light bulb light up with wires and a battery

While we were in class we were giving the supplies, and told to make the bulb light up, but we were not given the exact directions to make it happen. We were given pages of suggestions, to make the light happen from using one wire verses two, or with two bulbs instead of one, and two batteries or just one...but we had to figure out if we needed to strip the wires, use a specific kind and how to connect them properly.
Here is the Inquiry Continuum for this experiment:

Engage: Learner engages in question provided by teacher, materials, or other source
We were given the materials and given the task of making the light bulb light up. Can you light a bulb with one battery, one bulb, and one wire?

Evidence: Learner directed to collect certain data
We were given the materials, but we had to figure out a way to make it work. Although we were told that we should try to use two wires, or two batteries, or two bulbs, different wires, etc.

Explanation: Learner guided in process of formulating explanations from evidence
Once we were able to make the light bulb light up, we then had a classroom discussion (lead by both teacher and students) to explain why and how the bulbs lit up. It is this because we ask them a question to complete and explain.

Evluate and communicate is not really in this lesson because the students are not asked to go look up research and then give a presentation on it.

Evluate: Learner directed toward areas and sources of other explorations
We thought we knew that the experiment would work, but we were the ones doing the hands on actions to compare what would happen if we changed anything (the wires, the bulbs, the batteries, the placement, etc)

Communicates: Learner forms reasonable and logical argument to communicate explanations
We were able to explain what happened with the actual physical experiments, so we had the proof to show if something worked or did not work, and then we could talk about it with the class.


What lesson I would use for this same experiment:

Using fruit to light a light bulb!

Select an orange that is slightly soft. This will allow the juices to flow throughout the orange. The acidity found in the orange's juice will help create ions to charge the LED bulb.

Insert the zinc nail and the copper nail into the orange. The nails should be placed opposite of each other and should not touch. Push the nails halfway into the orange. Do not allow the nails to puncture through the other end of the orange.

Attach a small length of copper wire to the head of the zinc nail. The wire should be long enough to reach from the zinc nail to the middle of the orange.

Attach a small length of copper wire to the head of the copper nail. The wire should be equal in length to the wire attached to the zinc nail.

Wrap the ends of the copper wires that are connected to the zinc and copper nails around the LED light bulb. The bulb will light up.

Then try and see if you can use other fruit to produce the same results, or use different wire, or use more than one bulb. Have the students come up with some questions that they have, and then work through them to find the answers!

For the Inquiry Continuum for my future lesson:

I would set up this lesson the same as we did in class, I would ask them to use the materials given and try to make the light bulb light up. Can they do it? In more than one?

Students will complete a circuit that lights a bulb by using wires and fruit

Engages: Learner engages in question provided by teacher, materials, or other source
We were given the materials and given the task of making the light bulb light up

Evidence: Learner directed to collect certain data
We were given the materials, but we had to figure out a way to make it work. Although we were told that we should try to use two wires, or two batteries, or two bulbs, different wires, different fruit, cut fruit, etc.

Explanation: Learner directed toward areas and sources of other explorations
They are given the materials and they have their own ideas if it will worker not, the light bulb lighting up, but they do the actual experiment of seeing what works. They are also able to change the materials to see if it will work still. And then have them explain how it works.

Evaluate: Learner directed toward areas and sources of other explorations
They will need to use outside sources to support or deny their information they have found from the experiments. They will need to record their information and produce a chart to show what they have discovered.

Communicates: Learner forms reasonable and logical argument to communicate explanations
We were able to explain what happened with the actual physical experiments, so we had the proof to show if something worked or did not work, and then have the students present their chart they produced from the information they have gotten from the experiments. They also need to provide their information they got from their outside source to support their information they found from the experiment. And they need to be able to explain everything they present.

Another examples:
Have them pass the energy by holding hands and squeezing their hand to pass it around the circle

Use their tongue as part of the circuit

Have them create a little house out of a shoebox and have them wire it to turn on the lights in it

Update from class:
If it isn't there, then it isn't there. Don't make it up.
Engaged by asking a sciencfitic question, give the question.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Chart For Criteria of the Lesson

During class I was in the group where we were asked to see how fast coffee cools if you stir the cup. We decided to have 3 different cups for our experiment, one that we let sit without stirring, one where that we stirred as fast as we could, and then one that we stirred slower than the second cup. We then had the thermometer in the hot water to get the standing temperature at the start. Then we stirred for one minute and then took the temperature again, we continued this process for 3 minutes total to see what would happen with the cooling of the water. We made a prediction that the cup of water that we stirred the quickest would cool the fastest in the short amount of time.

5-E Criteria Chart

Explain: Why you believe this supports your claim

Engage:Learner engages in question provided by teacher, materials, or other source

Evidence:Learner directed to collect certain data

Explain: Learner formulates explanations after summarizing evidence

Evaluate: Learner directed toward areas and sources of other explanations

Communicate: Learner provided broad guidelines to use sharpen communication

Weather chart:

One spring day the hottest temperature in the U.S. was 90 ̊F. What was the weather like at the place where it was 90 ̊F?
a. It was sunny.
b. It was very humid.
c. There was no wind.
d. More than one of the above was true.
e. More information is needed.

E: 11% (n=1186) correct answer

The most frequent responses were D (39%), A (31%) and B (14%). Students might have been drawing more on personal experience than on knowledge of the weather when answering this item.

Why did so many students not get this question correct? How would you teach this to the students for them to learn the correct information?

did not fill it out due to book in the classroom

Learning goals: What should the students know?
They need to know if location makes a difference for the weather/tempaturare. Make sure to talk about the actually location, by the equator, level of elvuation, time of the year or seasons, etc.

Formative Assessment: What do students already know?
Ask the students what they know and understand about weather, heat, and temperature. Have them use personal experiences for their examples. Ask them if they have ever been anywhere outside of Iowa, and ask them where and when they went. And then ask them what the tempaturare was when they were there. Ask them why there are differences in the weather even through it is the same time of the year, but they are at a different location. By having them use their own personal experiences they are more engaged and interested in the topic.

Learning Performances: What do you want students to do to show they’ve learned?
Have them collect data to show the different weather in all the different locations that all the students have visited in the classroom, and then have them create a chart or graph to show the data collected. This way they will be able to see the different tempaturares, and then they will be able to continue their investigation of why this happens. They are able to find many different examples for this reason and they can all discuss this as a whole class to compare all the different information gathered.

Information from class:
You could Skype someone from another location and have the students ask them questions about their weather. Or they could set up their own weather station and give their own reports about the location and weather.

From class

Engage: how does surface swipe impact mold growth?
Learner selects among questions, poses new questions
You select from questions

Evidence: learner directed certain data
Students given grid squares and we decided as a class on how to read the units

Explanation: learner formulates after summarizing evidence
Student directed because they are able to decide how to display the information gathered and summarize evidence

Evaluate: learner independently examines other resources and forms the links to explainations
Student directed because you are expected to learn more about the growth of mold outside of the classroom

Communication: learner provided broad guidelines to use sharpen communication
teacher directed because teacher gives specific requirements,ie making a PowerPoint presentation, this makes it easier for the teacher to assess the lesson


Quick Quiz

1. Learning goal is something that is predetermined before the lesson has begun. It is something that the teacher has decided on that they want the student to learn at the end of completeing the lesson given.
Learning performance is something that the students will do to show what they have learned from the lesson.

These are similar to the product verses the process, and sometimes it is more important for the student to understand the process of something to get all the knowledge from the lesson, rather than just getting to the end of the lesson.

2. 5 essential features of inquiry
Engage: asking a question
Evidence: finding research to back up your information
Communication: being able to explain what you have found
Evaluate: making sure they are completing the proper steps and then coming up with a conclusion

Krajcik Chapter 9

In this article they explain assessments: both summative and formative, as a future teacher I must be able to use both assessments while teaching.
"If used effectively, both formative and summative assessments can inform classroom practices and help students learn. Formative assessments are those that help teachers make day-to-day decisions about instruction or help students learn. These assessments are used in the context of instruction to assess prior knowledge and are also embedded into instruction to guide teaching and learning. Summative assessments occur at the end of a unit of instruction or time period (such as upon completing a grade level) to determine achievement, issue grades,promote students, or demonstrate accountability."

The National Science Education Standards have these three guiding questions to base assessments on:

1. Where are you trying to go?

2. Where are you now?

3. How can you get there?

I believe that these three guiding questions are a great base for every lesson, and they should be thought about when teaching any students. Even though a teacher may have a specific goal in mind for the lesson being taught, they need to be open in adapting the lesson to answer (or assist when needed) any questions or ideas the students have while completing the lesson. Even though this may need extra time to complete, they need to take the time to cover the questions asked or ideas brought up. This can mean doing it in class, or guiding the students outside of class.

Batteries, Bulbs, and Wires

Moving Beyond the Science Kit:
Explorations of Electricity and Atoms

In this article it explains the difference of two teacher's way of instruction while teaching electricity, and how much the actual instruction makes a huge difference on how the students learn.

Ms. Stone was able to receive several electricity kits from a commercial manufacture and she begins preparing her lesson the night before by putting together the kit at home. Then at school the next day she has the students work in groups of 4 to complete the lesson by following directions as Ms. Stone directed them at the front of the classroom.

By doing it this way Ms. Stone had the students working together, but unfortunately they are only able to do the steps individually and they seemed to become bored quickly because they were sitting there waiting quite a bit of the time. Ms. Stone then would reference the definitions she has written on the board, and she believed that the lesson was successful when the groups of students were able to get the light bulbs to light up. Bu this doesn't mean that the students actually learned anything. They just followed the directions given, but they weren't able to question the lesson or the ideas or anything that would lead them into questioning more about the subject.

Ms. Travis is also working with the same several electricity kits from a commercial manufacture, but instead of following the directions exactly, she took the lesson into her own hands and made a new creative lesson. She started with the students talking about electricity to find out what the students know about the topic, and then she had them take apart flashlights in order for them to figure out some questions and ideas by themselves.

I believe that Ms. Travis had the better idea about teaching this lesson, and I would do something similar to this if I was teaching the lesson. I think having the students take apart something themselves and ask questions is the best way for the students to learn and understand the topic. They are able to use their own personal experiences to lead their ideas about electricity, and this will keep them more engaged in the topic. I hope this will keep the learned lesson in their memory a lot longer than if they would have just read and followed the directions given to just make a light bulb light up.


"Activitymania: is an approach to teaching elementary science that involves a collection of prepackaged, hour-long (or less), hands-on activities that are often disconnected from each other. Each activity has a definite beginning, middle, and end. In contrast, inquiry is the process of searching for patterns and relationships in the world around us. Inquiry cannot be prepackaged as it takes different directions according to students' interests and questions related to the concept being studied."

In this article Shifting from Activitymania to Inquiry by Hedy Moscovici and Tamara Holmlund Nelson, they state how students are more interested in science if they are engaged and excited about the lesson and the topic. They should be questioning the lessons, and they will have the
"opportunities to use their experiences and observations as the basis for science learning, science becomes relevant, stimulating, integrated, and accessible to everyone."
Teachers must use this interest to keep the students intrigued throughout the lesson, and they must explain what they want the students to learn by this lesson. Even though the teacher may have a specific goal they have in mind, while they are teaching the lesson something new may come up and then they will adapt the lesson depending on the new change of lesson. It is more important for the lesson to educate the students with a goal in mind, but to keep the students engaged for them to research and learn more about the new questions that have arose by themselves.

"Activitymania is one way science has entered elementary classrooms. It is a step away from teacher-directed, textbook-centered elementary science. It is now time to go a step further and make the shift toward inquiry. Modifications can be made to existing science programs (e.g., kits, texts) to meet criteria for inquiry science...."

As a future teacher, we must be able to move away from following exact textbooks and guidelines and instead teach to actually educate the students about more important information that actually affects the students' lives.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Probes Are Not Based Around Grade Levels....

From Keeley's article about classroom assessment

I think one of the best parts of this article was how they kept explaining the the formative assessment probes are not for one grade level, but they can be adapted to fit almost any grade level and level of understanding. The teacher just needs to take the time to speak with the students to see where they are with their understanding, knowledge, and misconceptions to base the lessons from. Then they can use the probes correctly to educate the students.
The probes in this book are not limited to one grade level in the way that summative assessments are. Instead, they provide insights into the knowledge and thinking that students in your school may have a s they progress from one grade level to the next. Ideas are included that students may not encounter until later in their education (e.g., high school), but teachers in the later grades will come to understand where and how ideas originate. Some of the probes can be used in grades K-12; other may cross over just a few grade levels. Teachers in two different grade spans (e.g., middle and high school) might decide to use the same probe and come together and discuss their findings.

I think it is imperative to be open to educating students based on their level of understanding and their interests, not on the textbooks guidelines. If a student in a younger grade is excited and questioning more complex science information, (and if they are able to understand the new information) then the teacher should work with them with the complex ideas. They should not tell the students, "Oh just wait until you are in (enter a higher grade level here) and then you will learn about it. You don't need to know about it until then." This may discourage the student into the subject, and this is something you do not want to happen. Instead of them getting bored with the lesson, because they already know the information, challenge them into learning a more complex lesson. You can use other teachers as sources, and you can work together to be able to work with the student.

Sweaters Give off Heat!

Teaching for Conceptual Change: Confronting Children's Experience by Bruce Watson and Richard Konicek

In this article teacher Deb O'Brien has a predicament, she doesn't know if she should let her students keep believing in their misconceptions, tell them the "correct" facts right away, or let the students work through the actions themselves and let them figure it out by themselves. The students thought sweaters, hats, and blankets gave off heat, without any help from anything else. How could they come up with this misconception? The students explained that when they were cold they needed to put on their hats or sweaters, and then they would get warm. So they believed that if they put in a thermometer in the objects they will see the temperature go up.

One of my science teachers in the past, which I will not name, would have just told us how that is not true and how the heat comes from our bodies and then the hat or sweater keeps the heat on us to keep us warm. But then I could have remembered this information for a short time and then would go back to the misconception...but luckily, Deb O'Brien wasn't one of those teachers, instead she decided to question her students. She decided to let her students figure it out on their own. She decided to let them begin the process of breaking their misconceptions.

Deb did this by having the students set up their own experiments, putting thermometers instead a rug, a hat, and a sweater for days to see if the temperature goes up. A lot of students believed it will, and they got excited when it went up only one degree, which could be easily explained by simply misreading the thermometers at the beginning. Each student keep a journal, along with Deb, and while reading them they all were disappointed at the slow process that was happening. The students were confused, upset, and just did not understand what was happening, and Deb was questioning herself if she should just tell them the facts right away.
One of the students wrote in their journal, "Hot and cod are sometimes strange." Or that they "don't know why" the temperature isn't changing like how they thought it would.

In the long run Deb did not tell them what was going on until a few days went by, and she realized that even though they spent more time on the experiment than she had originally wanted, many of the students were able to understand how these items don't give off their own heat, but they keep us warm from our own heat.
Deb said, "The kids are holding on to and putting together pieces of what they know to explore what kids think is much longer than I told them the facts."
By having the students do the work themselves they are able to see their misconceptions fade away slowly. By using this form of education hopefully the students will remember their experiment and remember the information they learned, instead of having their teacher just blurt out the facts and then have them still believe their misconceptions....

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Moldy Bread....

What is mold???
Is it a bacteria? Is it fungus? How does it grow? Can it hurt me? How many different kinds of mold are there? How long does it take to grow? Why is it different colors?

Mold is disguising. It is furry. It stinks. It grows on food that has spoiled. And for some reason my nephews love it.

The experiment that we are working on (there are four of us in the group), have four pieces of bread that we are waiting to see how much it molds. We used different surface swipes to see which would cause the most mold to grow. We have all the slices of bread in the same window seal, they are all getting the same sunlight and temperature as each other. I believe the sunlight and heat will make the mold grow faster.

Bread 1: surface swipe of an iPad

Bread 2: surface swipe of the men's restroom

Bread 3: surface swipe of roast beef

Bread 4: No surface swipe (controlled)

I believe the order of the bread slices that grow mold is:
1st: the slice with the roast beef surface swipe
2nd: the slice with the men's restroom surface swipe
3rd: the slice with the iPad surface swipe
4th: the slice with no surface swipe (controlled)

Update as of June 12th after class:

We have mold! Not much, but just a little bit. Two of the four pieces of bread now have some green mold on the side of the bread. Those two pieces are the Ipad surface swipe and the men's restroom surface swipe.

Bread 1: 2 squares of mold

Bread 2: 1 square of mold

Bread 3: no squares of mold

Bread 4: no squares of mold

I believe that bread 1 and 2 will continue to grow more green mold, and it will work across the top of the bread and into the middle of the slice. My order of guessing which slice would grow mold first was close, but not correct. I still believe that the slice with no surface slice will be the last piece to grow mold, but I am surprised and disgusted that the iPad was one of the first slices to grow mold. I wonder how many people have actually used the classroom's iPad, and when the last time they were cleaned. Luckily, I use my own iPad.....


Update as of June 14th after class:

Here are the photos I took,

During class we were told that we did not do these experiments correctly, and we have to start over again. We did not use gloves to keep the pieces of bread uncontaminated, and because of this we did are not able to trust the mold that has been growing on the pieces of bread. So these are the first photos of noticeable mold, and now we will be starting over again, but instead of mold growing on bread....but instead mold growing on cheese!

Theoretical Foundations for Constructivist Teaching

This article was a little harder for me to read. I took Educational Psychology in the Fall of 2011, but unfortunately for me it was a class where I memorized the terms and then took the tests and then forgot all the information over winter break. I understand as a future teacher I need to know how to properly assess my students to see where they stand with the topics being taught, and I need to know how to move forward or backward to make sure all the students learn and understand the topic at hand.

Based off of the article, Peter's states
Often viewed as an early constructivist, Jean Piaget foucused his research on children's construction of knowledge through equilibration. Piaget's theory involves mediating mental processes for mental cognition. To understand these processes, it is important to understand the notion of a schema.

Equilibration: is a process by which a learner compensates for a mental dilemma and constructs new knowledge

Schema: is a cognitive framework used to store and organize information such as knowledge and experiences

Assimilation:can be seen as the way we adapt new information into existing mental structures so that our minds can seek equilibration

Accommodation: is a circumstance where no preexisting mental structures are available for assimilation and children must adapt their own mental structures to accommodate new information

Disequilibrium: is when a child's conception of a thing or event is no longer adequate and the child seeks to establish a balance through assimilation and accommodation

If a child learns what a bird is and that they fly then they are able to use their schema when they see a new bird. But when they see a penguin and are told that these birds do not fly, the child may become confused. Because this the child must adapt to be able to understand the new information, this is called accommodation. This is a similar process of changing the students misconceptions, and how the students will begin to change their thoughts to learn the correct ones, instead of what the student may just assume.

A form to check for understanding (in order for the students to be able to adapt) is for a future teacher is through assessment.
Formative Assessment: it is carried out throughout the course or project. It is used to aid learning. It can be the teacher or the learner, providing feedback on the student's work. This could also be a pre-test, something to set the stage for where the students are starting for their understanding on the topic.
Summative Assessment: it is carried out at the end of the course or project, these are usually an end test and this leads to a grade for the student. This form of assessment is evaluative.
(information from Wikipedia)

After discussing this article in class I am wanting to do more research and continue more on this post. I know that I do not need to know all the terms and all the full explanations for this information, but I do need to understand how to apply it to my classroom. I know I will continue my research on this topic, and I know that one day in the future I will be more comfortable with this topic.

Misconceptions Die Hard

Did we really land on the moon? Does a pound of feathers and a pound of silver weigh the same? Is the Earth really round? What is the shape of the Earth's orbit?

Misconceptions happen at every age. Trying to break a students' misconceptions is something that is hard for a teacher to do. From research we are able to view how students are taught the same misconceptions over and over again, and a lot of the time this happens in topics revolving science. As a future teacher I need to work towards trying to figure out what these common misconceptions are before the final test or evaluation and instead use them as the opening example. By using it as the opener of a lesson hopefully this will be able to actually show the students the truth about the misconception they believe.

As I have stated in a previous post, I am a visual learner, and I work better at understanding when I am able to see it happen in front of me a few things happen
1. I am able to understand it better and fully (well most of the time fully)
2. I remember it
3. I am more interested in it, and then will lead to me wanting to learn more about the subject (either during the class or on my own)

While reading Misconceptions Die Hard by Joseph I. Stepans, Ronald E. Beiswenger, and Steven Dyche, I realized that when young students are explaining something that has happened in their science class they do not worry about the correct terms, but instead they talk about the process and what and how something happens. For science I think it is imperative for the students to learn how something happens, and the actual process and understanding instead of being able to spit out terms and definitions. In the article they state
Apparently, the elementary students were giving responses based on common sense and had not yet been encumbered with scientific terminology. On the other hand, many of the older students seemed to be so concerned with trying to fit the correct scientific terms into their explanations that they lost sight of the phenomena at hand.
I remember doing this in my science courses in the past, I would make flash cards, memorize the terms for the test, and then as soon as I turned in the test I never thought about those terms again. Not only did not learn from this technique, but it made science boring and hard for me. I never truly enjoyed the subject, and I wish that my teacher would have used a different teaching method. Luckily I am able to in the future. I must talk to my students and see what they know, and what they understand in order to teach them correctly. I need to be flexible with my lessons. There could be a subject that I believe all of the students may know and understand, but instead they have a major misconception about the topic. I must be able to use their base of learning for the future lesson, and I need to figure out ways to assist them in breaking their misconceptions.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Five Good Reasons to Use Science Notebooks
by Joan Gilbert and Marleen Kotelma

While reading this article I was thinking about how I would use this technique in different subjects besides science. I know that we use writing workshops for students, where they are able to write about everything and anything (sometimes with prompts and other times just from their own ideas), but what about social studies or even math? By having each student work in their own individual notebook they are able to use it in any form in order to assist them in learning more. To help them understand more. To be able to become more confident and comfortable in that subject or topic. By them having these outlets they are able to put in their own words or visuals what they think or believe, or what questions they have. This will make it easier for them to learn.
"Teachers observed students' ideas were clearer when they communicated through a combination of written and visual text."
I believe the best part about using science notebooks is for the teacher. They are able to use the notebooks as "documentation of students' thinking, which can be used to guide instruction in the study." Teachers are able to look at the notebooks multiple times throughout a lesson, or a unit, to check for understanding, and if needed the teacher can alter the lesson to review if there are any problems or confusion. The notebooks can also be used as a form of reference for the students to use if they write a full paper or create a presentation. The students are also able to use each others' notebooks as reference, or to check for understanding.

By using science notebooks students are seeing themselves as real scientist as soon as any science lesson begins. They are able to take their own notes, create charts and graphs, and create visuals for their own reference. If they believe they are a main part in the lesson then they will hopefully be more likely to become more involved and learn more from each lesson.

Iowa Education Summit
Iowa Department of Education

While reading this article I was intrigued by how Iowa students are not being prepared enough to continue on for more advance math classes while they are in both high school and college.
The article states that,
"Research shows that during middle school students from the foundation to prepare them for higher mathematics requirements in high school and college. Algebra is often described as the "gatekeeper" for advanced mathematics and for entrance into college. Students who wish to take calculus during their high school career, but do not take Algebra I early enough, must find some way to accelerate their academic progress such as taking a math course in summer school. Yet only 29 percent of eight-grade Iowa students taking NAEP in 2009 were enrolled in Algebra 1 or another higher-level mathematics course (Geometry or Algebra II)."

In order for students to be able to be properly prepared they must be given the opportunity. When I was in school I did not take any form of Algebra until Freshmen year of high school, and before that I was taking basic math, but not really preparing me for my high school math. While taking Math Methods this summer, my professor explained how some students could be able to to understand and handle more complex math at a younger age, and that as teachers we should not tell them to just wait and they will learn it in a few years. Instead we must be able to use any teachable moment to keep our students asking to learn more, and to challenge them into pushing themselves into wanting to learn more.

Math is a major area that our students need to be able to succeed in. It opens the doors to many job opportunities. It is never going away. It is including in every day life. In every activity we do. Students need to be able to take more advanced level classes earlier to get them ready for college or their future jobs.

It is up to us a teachers to start this step as early as possible. This will not just allow the students to grow educationally, but it will also help the state of Iowa and how our educational department is perceived by our nation. We must give the tools in order to educate our students to succeed.

Line of Learning

1. How do elementary students learn science?

I believe elementary students learn science through almost every action they do. There isn't one subject that doesn't include a form of science in it one way or another. While I was in school, science was boring, it was something that only the "nerds" studied and was too hard and frustrating for me to understand. Or even enjoy. But now after being in the Education Program, I am being taught there are many different ways to teach students, and we must change the way we teach in order to engage students in every subject in order to succeed. While I did my own science experiments at home, I had a blast and I wanted to turn our kitchen into my lab any chance I could get. Although when I was in my chemistry class, all I could do was count down the minutes until my next class, and how did that happen? I believe that elementary students learn visually, but this doesn't mean that they should just have hands on activities, but they must also be able to understand and learn something from what they are doing. After reading Five God Reasons to use Science Notebooks by Joan Gilbert and Marleen Kotelma, I realize how important it is for teachers to use various forms while working with students because each student learns differently. In the article each student has their own notebook and they are able to draw visuals, make charts, take notes, and write paragraphs about any science topics. By doing this each student is able to be comfortable by asking questions, leading discussions, and learning in the best way for each individual student. Teachers need to present science lessons with different options for all of the students to be able to learn and understand the lesson. By doing this hopefully this will keep the students interested and engaged in science, and they will not end up thinking about science the same as I did...but instead wanting to continue their science educational experience in their future.

2. What classroom environments facilitate elementary students' learning?

I believe having a comfortable and open classroom is the best way for students to learn. Students need to be able to speak out during discussions, be able to volunteer for science experiments, and be able to use information in the room (from books, other students, and themselves) to back up their ideas and opinions. In order for the students to be able to learn properly, they will need to be able to be confident in standing up and backing up their ideas. If they are giving different opinions for being taught, then the students will be able to learn depending on what works for each of them individually.

3. What should teachers know and be able to do to design and foster effective elementary science learning environments?

I believe that teachers need to know that each student learns differently from one another, and that we can not think that teaching all the students the same way for each subject. Some may learn that one way, but not all of them, and in order for teachers to do their job correctly, they need to take the time and energy to be prepared to teach lessons for all of the students, not just the majority of them. In the article Environmental Education in the Schools Creating a Program that Works! by Judy A. Braus and David Wood, they explain how to think globally act locally. Teachers must keep the students engaged by having the lessons taught be directly connected to the students' lives, for example understanding the importance of recycling, and by how doing it in the classroom and in their home they can make a difference in the world.

Update: June 14th

3. What should teachers know and be able to do to design and foster effective elementary science learning environments?

According to Misconceptions Die Hard by Joseph I. Stephans, Ronald E. Beiswenger, and Steven Dyche it states
Teachers can take steps to prevent misconceptions or to break them down after they have formed. We can select textbooks more carefully, taking more time to examine the full range of texts available and then choosing one that not only is interesting and comprehensive but also presents concepts clearly.

After reading more articles and having a discussion in the class, I have come to realize how many misconceptions students have. This is not only in science, but in every subject. Once we started talking about major misconceptions we were able to look up and read about in 5 minutes on, I have come to accept that I have a lot of misconceptions too. But I don't need to worry myself about knowing and understanding everything, but instead I need to be able to know what to do when my students ask me a question and I don't know the answer to it. I need to assist them in working through the problem by them working on it. If I just give them the "correct answer" then they may not be able to begin the slow process of breaking their misconception. Instead I need to guide them into questioning the problem, and work through it by seeing the their misconception not work out. We need to make sure we do not just teach the curriculum because we have to, but we need to teach the students information that they will understand, remember, and that is relative to them. If teachers use only the given "school or principal's" curriculum and teach for the test....the students will learn just the terms and basic facts long enough to take the test and then they may forget everything after they turn it in. If you ask questions that will lead the students to ask more questions, and keep them interested in the topic, so interested that they want to look up information and do more research on their own, they will learn more. They will care to continue their education on the subject, and it will keep them engaged to continue their education hopefully into the future at higher and more complex levels.

I wasn't given that opportunity of learning when I was younger. Instead I was taught the basic information, at a very quick pace because we had to get through the whole text book in the school year, and I feel like I can't remember much from these classes. From taking methods classes here at Iowa, I have begun to get more and more interested in looking up more information about the topics we have learned in class on my own time. I have only been in science methods for 2 weeks, but I feel like I have learned more interesting, and actually fun facts than I did all year in Chemistry in high school. To me that is ridiculous. I want to become a teacher that doesn't educate the students in the same form I was taught, I want to keep them intrigued and excited about learning, even if it is in a subject that I need to do a lot more research on before/while I am teaching it! :)

Update June 19th:

1. How do elementary students learn science?

I believe that students learn science by experiencing it. By being involved with the lesson, not just sitting in a classroom and listening to a lecture. During class we learned about School of the Wild, and how students starting at a young age are able to go outside and be educated about science in the natural habitat outside. And not just about beaches and mountains, things that we do not have in Iowa, but rather about items that are in our lives, prairies, reservoirs, specific animals and plants to Iowa, and so much more. By having students learn and work on items that are local to their lives and their community is more important than just following a textbook word for word. Instead of just educating them for taking a test at the end of a unit, they need to work with lessons that are valuable to their life. Something that they will encounter everyday.

I have been hearing this since I started the education program, how much I need to work with my students by listening to them, by learning about their interests, and by making sure they become educated about subjects that are local and involve their everyday life.

I am looking forward to going out to the School of the Wild to see how it is set up and how much the students learn (and how much they enjoy it!) I am a little nervous about teaching a lesson outside, but I think that with the help of creating the lesson plan with my classmates, and having the assistance from one of the teachers will be nice. I love being outside, and I think I know "enough" information to teach the students, but I have to realize that even though I am going to school to become a teacher doesn't mean that I will know every fact about every subject. Instead I need to be able to lead and assist the students in the correct direction when they have a question that they have. And if I don't know the answer, then that is fine, I just have to let them know, "Hey I don't know, but let's find it out!"

Update June 28th:

For this post I am not using any of the questions that are posted above, instead I want to blog about using the Inquiry Continuum. I have never used this chart before, but after using it a few times I believe that it is something that I will be referencing quite often.

I like being able to see the different stages that a student should go through with a lesson. I have obviously been using it with science lessons, but it could be used for any subject. While we were in class talking about the chart, I was reminded that in the first few years of teaching I will be just trying to survive, but I need to take the time and energy to let the students lead some of the lessons with their own questions and ideas. Even though it would be a lot easier to be in control of every lesson, and not let the students go off on their own to work on their ideas. Although I need to stay over on the left side of the chart when I can, even if it is for just a few steps of the lesson, this will not only keep the lesson engaging and interesting for the students, but it will hopefully make them want to work towards continuing their thoughts and ideas even after the lesson is "completed."

I think the most important step of the inquiry continuum is when the learner communicates and justifies explanations. This part is when the students have to actually take the time to explain what they have learned from the experiment, and they will need to show what they had figured out. Maybe they were able to prove that their predictions were correct, or maybe the predictions were wrong, but either way if they have to justify and explain they will use their own research (along with supporting research) to assist their ideas, thoughts, and beliefs.

Update while in class:
What is scientific inquiry?
It is when there is a question that is conceived and then steps are taken to figure out how to answer the question. This could be by doing research, asking peers, drawing images, working on an experiment, reading, and more. It includes the questions of how and why. And it usually requires the process of making an educated guess or an hypnosis/prediction about what could happen.

How is it used in the classroom? Or seen?
In the classroom this is seen when students are working towards figuring out a problem that has arisen. This could be from a teacher, a classmate, or by theirself.

Diffendoofer Day

Miss Bonkers rose. "Don't fret! she said.
"You've learned the things you need
To pass the test and many more--
I'm certain you'll succeed.
We've taught you that the earth is round.
That red and white make pink.
And something else that matters more--
We've taught you how to think."

1. What does it mean when somebody knows how to think?

When someone knows how to think they are able to actually execute their own indiviual ideas. They will be able to create an idea alone and then explain it or actually do the actions to explain their thoughts. In a classroom students will need to be able to think in order to be successful in their educational experience.

Students will need to be able to use their own personal experiences to explain their own ideas and also be able to use their own thoughts and facts, depending on the topic, to back up their ideas. They will be able to solve problems on their own, and they will be able to use application from their prior knowledge to move forward through education and everyday life activities.

2. How does a teacher teach a student how to think?

A student can learn how to think if a teacher is able to work with the student in a creative form in order to interest the student. I believe that students will become more engaged and stay excited to learn and think if they enjoy the subject being taught. I understand that there will subjects that the students will not like, or it will be hard for them to learn, but instead of them getting frustrated and giving up the students need to think and work towards finding a solution to the problem at hand.

Teachers should be able to ask open ended questions to keep the students answering the questions and then forming their own questions about the topic. This will allow them to "teach" the teacher by bringing up new ideas, and then having the students continue the discussion. Teachers will need to assist the students with discovery, but not give them all the answers to questions, instead they must lead them in the direction for them to reveal and understand the subject in order for them to think for themselves.

3. Have you ever been in a class where you really had to think?

Yes, as we were talking in class I realized that we all came to the same conclusion that we all had to think while we were taking Human Relations. Not only did I have to think during this class, but I began to realize a lot about myself. In my class the majority of the students were graduate students, and they were all very opinionated, which helped me step up my game while discussing the topics. The different subjects in the class were somewhat controversial, and because of this I had to use my own personal experiences in order to think about myself in those various situations. It is important as a future teacher to be able to use my own personal experiences as examples while educating students.