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Category Archives: 180_Regeneration

Introductions vs. Syllabus

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Now that I’ve got a chunk of my new SBG-based course under control (or, at least I think I do), today, I started to work on a sort of syllabus.

I have my old syllabi, and they’ve served me well. But now I’m going to a new school with high expectations, and my courses were previously taught by someone with a doctorate (which I do not have). I’m feeling some pressure (from myself) to get it right, even though I don’t exactly know my audience yet.

As I go through the sections of my old syllabus, I hack away now-useless things (like hall passes) and add new material (like how SBG will work in my classroom), and I wonder if I should add a bit about myself, or if that comes off as “please like me!”

And a lot of this is related to how I want students to see me. Safety (a large-ish section, along with a line for parent signature after the lab rules) is not flexible. Deadlines can be flexible for good reasons (does that make them un-deadlines?) A generous selection of helpful websites and resources. Approximate course schedule (so that I appear organized) and helpful hints (so that it’s clear I’m on their side).

And I don’t have my keys yet, but I’m not completely sure what I’d do once in my room. I do have staff email, but that’s kind of a glitch from long-term-subbing last year.

And I wonder how much pushback there will be. From what, I’m not sure. And I wonder how it will go, and what wrinkles I’ll run into.

The whatifs are invading, making me afraid of being exposed as something I’m not.

ChemEd Day 5

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Today was the last (half-) day of the conference.

This morning, I heard about games and goofiness in organic chem class. The closing ceremonies speaker was Dr. Donna Nelson, who, among other things, consulted for Breaking Bad. Her talk mostly centered on an interesting idea: being the change you want to see. That is, she consulted because she wanted to influence a television show to have an accurate representation of science and scientists.

And now I’m working on my head again. I have a lot to do and integrate into my curriculum. And only a few weeks to do it. Eeep.

ChemEd Day 4

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Holy cow…

Today brought a bunch of in-class apps, some science notebooking (more like actual note-taking rather than following formulaic sections), the So You Think You Can Demo competition, modeling and stoich, and a lecture on historical impacts of synthetic chemistry.

Mind completely blown by the today’s stoich presentation. First, the ICE-table-like layout makes so much sense!! Whoa. And second (and more importantly), Ellena Bethea. Three years ago, when I was having a really tough time at my old school, hers was one of the first chemistry blogs that I found. And she seemed so genuine and practical and…lovely. I love all of the math teachers in the MTBoS, but her blog, one of the only chemistry-related ones I could find, is what got me back into teaching when I was feeling ready to quit. Anyway, I briefly met her (and probably creeped her out a little with my verge-of-tears introduction). I’m just so grateful.

One more (half) day tomorrow…

ChemEd Day 3

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My day three sessions were pretty cool! Electrochemistry on the morning (with Paul Price), a bunch of ways to teach stoich (variety is helpful!), a bunch of discrepant events, a plenary by Larry Gonick of Cartoon Guide to Chemistry (etc.) fame, all about the Molympics with Kristin Gregory and Doug Ragan, some good stuff on scientific writing in the classroom, and some PBL info. I guess today’s theme was doing-stuff-in-the-classroom, not so much on the philosophy or for me to make up on my own. It was good specific help on specific topics. I definitely need to think through that electrochem stuff, especially the last couple of slides with the ion animations.

*kerpow! brain explodes! in a good way!!*

In the evening, there was a happy hour at a local bar. It was nice to have some chill-time with new acquaintances. We’re a bunch of good people, and I enjoyed having some more-than-half-hour time to just chat about work and family and people and problems and successes. Pretty cool.

ChemEd Days 1&2!

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After a red-eye and a long layover, I’m in Atlanta, at ChemEd.

Yesterday’s opening ceremonies had Aaron Sams, talking about his journey through teaching and flipping and into conducting professional development. It’s good to have re-affirmation for change, for innovation, and for trying new things. I especially liked the (far-too-silent) truth of chemistry teachers having a sort of superiority complex, enjoying the inaccessibility and weirdness that our jargon affords us. Um. Yes.

Today, I went to sessions on NGSS in chem (didja know there’s a phone app??), energy in modeling systems (with Erica Posthuma-Adams… oooh… much to think through), Ramsey Musallam’s keynote address on playing/teaching to your strengths, tips on writing grants, literature connections especially for ELL kids, and agricultural ideas and hydroponics with Jeff Bracken (whoa… so much goodness going on!).

AAAAANNNND, if all that wasn’t enough, I’ve now met a bunch of Twitter peeps! In person! And they’re just as cool as online!

Take Aways

It’s okay to try new things. In fact, you should try new things. Especially piece-meal. Especially one or two things at a time. Even if you don’t know whether it will work or not. (That’s kinda the scientific method of classes; propose, test, modify.)

And it’s okay to fail. And it will happen. And it probably already has. And you can always revert to previous versions of things, even if you know the old version isn’t super good.

And reflection is super important. It wasn’t explicit in any of the presentations today, but most of the presentations were themselves reflections of materials and courses.

Brain exploding… more tomorrow!

Day 114: Getting Comfy

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Day 114/180(?): starting over with SBG

No, I can’t fit all 180 days in before school starts again!

During an interview, I asked a principal what he/she thought about SBG. His/her response was unfavorable, including that kids would have to figure out the system for each class and teacher. I thought it strange, since kids already do that.

I was chugging along with SBG, following what a middle-school colleague had done, when I realized that I didn’t like that version. I needed something else.

So, thanks to some Tweeps I’ve been stalking for a while really neat and well-connected people (I’m looking at you, @jmbalaya!), I contacted Ramsey Musallam, and we chatted on the phone for a good half hour (in between his summer school robot building fun). I’m gonna give his SBG system a shot, and see what happens. It makes far more sense to me than the other version (at least, for my grade-level and subject). And I’d hate for the kids to be a part (again) of a class where the teacher isn’t comfy with the grading system.

Day 113 (and beyond): Doing It Again for the First Time

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Day 113+more / 180: signing a new contract and thinking of next year(s)

I signed the contract for my new school and got a non-sub-ID!

I’ve been working on and off on my new SBG curriculum. While I’m set on trying SBG, I’m now realizing how much I have to do and change from the stuff I already have. And what do I do with lab notebooks on the scale?

And this (start of an) exchange with @rawrdimus:

So how do I get students to use the notebooks after they’ve finished particular labs?

So what it comes down to is… I’m feeling like a first-year teacher. Super insecure. I’ve got the job, and now I have to deliver all that I promised. I haven’t been in a normal classroom — my classroom — for eight years. I have scrounged a basic schedule from the school I worked at last fall, and I have all of my old worksheets (which need to be updated for my new SBG thing). I have tons of resources from other people, but need to make everything my own.

Day 112: Chemistry Subbing

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Day 112/180: subbing for chemistry

Subbed across the hall from my old class again. Of the five science teachers upstairs, only two were there, so I also helped with another chemistry class during a free period (the rest of his day was in-house period coverage). It’s strange to be a sort-of insider while subbing, but I was asked to peek in on the period coverage.

Just as a note: if a teacher’s sub plans specifically says, “NO FLAME TESTS”, don’t let students do the flame tests.

Day 111: Solo Work

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Day 111/180: working on more SBG stuff and twitching

I have problems concentrating when I’m on my own, and yet, I usually get more done when alone. I twitch (being preoccupied with something and trying to not be preoccupied). Argh. 

Anyway. I’m hacking through the “I can…” statements. There are a lot of basic recall things, especially in the history sections! I need to change that up. I should also take a history of science course. 

I know there will be a lot of procedural/calculation requirements in upcoming sections, and I know I’ll need to change that up too. 

Day 110: Math subbing

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Day 110/180: algebra II classes

I’ve subbed for this teacher before, and he requested me this time (after I did something smart: I went to visit him in person when I was in the building for another job). The kids in every class exclaimed “he’s never gone! It’s the first time this year!” This tells me a few things: 1. That I didn’t screw up last time, 2. That I wasn’t particularly remarkable last time, 3. That the classroom teacher approves of me enough to request me for his only day out. 
I’ll take it. 

For classroom teachers: please, please, please be sure what kind of schedule the day has, especially at the end of the year with lots of testing schedules and field trips and stuff. 

For subs: be sure to have something in your back pocket for when the lesson plans only cover a couple of classes because the teacher thought it was a different day (and/or ask a neighboring teacher for help). I got to give the kids a work day, and (minimally) help a number with their chemistry homework.