Friday, 18 September 2015

I love when Grade 9s come to visit!

When I was a primary teacher, I felt like once the kids left my room, they forgot about me. Very few of them would say hi again, even in the playground, even after we spent all this time together, they just move on to bigger and better things. Then I began teaching Grade 8s...and stayed put at a one school. It's so lovely for them to come back and tell me all about high school!

This year especially I keep asking them to report on how they feel about Science. Those Grade 9s had minimal hands on experience before coming into my room last year and it took us a while to get into the routine of designing labs and then using the conclusions from our observations to prove or investigate the concept. They wanted me to give them definitions and then test them on it. They eventually became impressive risk takers and by the last strand they were designing and testing their own original labs. I continue to be curious about whether I prepared them for the challenges in high school.

I'm feeling the same stress again this year. I know it's self-inflicted as the students enjoy hands on and the majority of them use the experiments to explain the concepts, but how do I know for sure unless I'm giving them a quiz? There's 29 of them, how can I possibly check for understanding by just having conversations with them?

It is possible. After six 40 minute periods, after half have performed their lab and observations, I'm confident that most of them are understanding properties of fluids. Even the ones that are still designing their lab are able to explain to explain to me what property they hope to test and what knowledge they are basing their hypothesis on. They did take some notes today on the definitions, but only so they could apply it to the lab they performed yesterday or will be performing next week.

Above  group tested density using boiling point and heat. The group below tested density of oil vs. nail polish.
Since knowledge building online works so well with this group, they continue to post their lab write ups on the discussion boards so they can give each other feedback and see each other's areas of improvement.

I used to think I wanted to teach high school, but I realize this is the place for me. Now to work on my new batch of 6s and 7s and getting them confident in the scientific inquiry process.

On another note, off topic but not, I began my journey as a learner and embarked on my Master of Education this week. I'm registered for it to be course based, but I'm really thinking an action research thesis, if possible, would be more use to me, and perhaps even more interesting...I'm not sure if I can handle that, I have some months to think about it. I do love research and self-directed learning. I can see even graduate education is becoming more of what we want our own students to experience. Any advice for me?

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