Tuesday, March 20, 2012


During the last two years, I have tried to increase the Effective Communication aspect of the
Three C's of the science curriculum in my classroom.
Students have become so compartmentalized in the subjects we teach they tend not to bring their English minds to the table when it comes to writing in science.  While I explain to students that their are differences in the way we may present information in science, it is important that their written communication is organized, clear and concise and demonstrate the same expectations of gramar, punctuation, capitalization and spelling as they would in a paper for English or History.

To accomplish this, I have used an assignment called a TEDitorial.  I select and post a TED video (http://www.ted.com/) on my classroom Moodle site every Monday throughout the semester.  Students must view five TEDs throughout the semester and compose and post an editorial supporting or denying the claims of the TED presenter.  Students must incorporate their own research and information from our classroom discussions to support their opinion of the presenter's information. 

The trend through three semester of this assignment has been very typical.  I usually need to spend a great deal of time explaining the difference between a summary of the TED and an editorial for the first two submissions.  I also spend a great deal of time correcting the English aspects of their writing. Which most students can't seem to understand why this is important in science course.  By the third submission most students are actually writing editorials and submitting extra in the way of links to websites they discovered while researching the topic further.  I also have discovered that interest tends to peak about the fourth editorial and students watch several of the TEDs before choosing one that they have more passion about and truly want to editorialize.

I have found that many students begin to visit the TED site on their own to search out information about other topics on top of the science and learning based TEDs that I have selected for them.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Prepare for Pi Day - 3.14 Pi Day

Pi Day Celebration Ideas

Website Links

http://www.piday.org/   The Official Pi Day Website.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pi_Day   Wikipedia Pi Day
http://www.teachpi.org/    Pi Day for Educators
http://www.pidaychallenge.com/  Enter the Pi Day Challenge
http://www.educationworld.com/a_lesson/lesson/lesson335.shtml   Plan A Pi Day Party
http://www.123greetings.com/events/pi_day/  Send Pi Day Greetings
http://www.pidayprinceton.com/  Pi Day At Princeton
http://mathforum.org/t2t/faq/faq.pi.html   Pi Day Math Forum
http://mathematicianspictures.com/PI/PI-DAY.htm   Mathematicians Pi Day
http://www.joyofpi.com/pilinks.html   The Joy of Pi

Pi Day You Tube Videos


Linear Paths of Learning

I teach in a linear manner.
I design a lesson that makes sense to me. 
A lesson that flows from point A to B to C and so on toward a learning objective. 
However, is that linear path suitable to only for me?
Do I take in to account the learning paths of the twenty-five bright and shiny faces that share my learning environment?
Do my students learn in that same linear manner?
Do we all learn in the same way? Just because A...B...C... seems tp be the, most logical and efficient in my mind as an educator, is that necessarily the most effective way to reach all of my students? Have I taken the time and do I know my students well enough to teach in the best possible way for them to learn? 
Have I addressed the student who needs to see the big picture and know the final outcome in order for them to internalize the value of what is being taught? 

Have I addressed the needs of the students who need to see all the little parts of the lesson, but learns best by putting them together themselves? 
Have I utilized images that bring the words numbers and symbols to life for those students who depend on visual clues to address patterns toward the ultimate goal? 
Do my students understand that the roadmap that I am trying to create for them is just one possible path? That there are other possible means of gaining the objective and that they may follow the path that most fits their tools and skills?
Have I created a learning environment for the sequential linear learner as well as the circuitous learner, to both find a means for their own success?
Have I given my students  a method to tell me when my linear path does not meet theirs?
Do my students know their own learning path and have I cultivated a means for them to explore their own learning?
Have I created an environment where the value is placed on learning and not grades and correct answers?
Do my students enter my learning environment knowing the expectations for learning come first and that grades and correct answers will flow from their ability to learn?
Am I a teacher of learning or am I a teacher of a subject?
Because the most important skill in life today,
is the ability to learn!!!

Friday, March 02, 2012

Guide on the Side

Focus on the Student and the Teacher
Language of the Student
Vocabulary of the Student
Instructors Model Learning
Students Interact With Students
Students Interact with Instructor
Classroom is Noisy
Classroom is Active
Students Evaluate Their Own Work
Students Critique Each Other
Teachers Monitor Evaluation
Instructor Provides Feedback
Students Choose Topics
Knowledge is Unlimited
Instructors Monitor Material
Students Answer Each Others Questions
Teacher Becomes a Resource
Pairs, Trios and Groups Work Together
TEAM takes Effect (Together Each Achieves More)
Emphasis on Process
Assessment is Inter-twined in the Learning
Differentiated assessment is the Norm
Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
Information is Synthesized
Focus on Understanding the Content
Real Life Examples and Utilization of Content
Learning Process is Evaluated
Teacher Becomes a Mentor
Based upon Student Engagement

Sage on the Stage

Teacher Centered
Teacher Talks – Students Listen
Language of the Teacher
Vocabulary of the Teacher
Instructor Chooses Topics
Teacher Filters Material
Teacher Evaluates Student Work
Classroom is Quiet
Knowledge Limited by Teacher’s Knowledge
Students Work Alone
Classroom is Passive
Knowledge is Passed Down
Students Receive Information
Emphasis on Right Answers
Classroom is Competitive
Learning is Individualistic
Assessment and Teaching are Separate
Testing is Primary Assessment
Information is Gathered
Focus on Completing Content
Based on Delivery

Thursday, March 01, 2012

The Truly Renaissance Man

In the movie Renaissance Man, teacher Bill Rago (Danny DeVito), uses the example of
Leon Battista Alberti to demonstrate the renaissance nature of an individual who values learning and education as a means of making the most of oneself. Rago explains to Private Jackson Leroy (Richard T. Jackson) that despite the resume of Alberti including his work as an author, artist, architect, poet, priest, linguist, philosopher, cryptographer and general Renaissance humanist polymath, the only reason he remembers him is because Alberti could broad jump over a standing man. Leroy who has been burned by his ties to win at all cost athletics which have left him with very little future comes to understand that is is possible to be a "smart jock".  An oxymoron to Leroy who comes to appreciate that he can encourage his son to embrace education as well as any and all talents he may wish to pursue including athletics.

Leon Battista Alberti who left his mark on Renaissance Society through contributions in:
*      Alberti’s treatise De Pictura, was the first truly scientific study of art utilizing mathematical perspective.
*      Alberti worked with other artists of the Renaissance to create a handbook for the artist.
*      Alberti wrote one of the most  influential works on architecture the De Re Aedificatoria.
*      Alberti’s comedy in latin, called Philodoxius, was originally credited to be a genuine work of 'Lepidus Comicus'.
*      He is credited with being the designer, of the woodcut  illustrations in the fantasy noverl Hypnerotomachia Poliphili.
*      Alberti took a great interest in architecture his work can be connected to, restoration of the papal palace and the Roman aqueducts under Pope Nicholas the V, the church of Sant’ Andreream San Franceso and the façade of the Santa Maria Novella,shrine of the Holy Sepulchre. He is also credited with working on the Palazzo Rucellai and the Villa Medici in Fiesole.
*      Alberti was an accomplished cryptographer inventing the first polyalphabetic cipher.  The Alberti cipher led to his being referred to as the “Father of Western Cryptography.
*      In his autobiography Alberti notes that he was an accomplished musician, poet, painter, cartographer, astrologer and astornomer.
*      According to Alberti he was capable of "standing with his feet together, and springing over a man's head."