Friday, September 29, 2006

Take 5: 9/29/06

Homecoming week at AHS...where a typical comment from the students is "why do we have school during homecoming, we don't learn anything this week anyway." It was hard to motivate the students this week, especially today with the homecoming assembly!

Since I know the students would be unmotivated and preoccupied with homecoming, I wanted to plan something so they could actively participate. On Wednesday, Brian had designed a mini-lab with different types of reactions. I used this activity in class today, which ties in all of the aspects from this chapter. Their test is Monday, so it was a good review. Each reaction was different, so as a group of 4 the students performed the experiment, determined the type of reaction, predicted the products and balanced the equation. When they were finished, I had each group explain their experiment to the rest of the class. It was a great review activity...thanks Brian!

On Monday of this week, the students were working on writing and balancing chemical equations. I posted a word document to my web page and had the students access this from their laptops, and save it to the desktop. The document had 10 word equation and they had to work for 8 min on writing the formulas and balancing them. After the 8 min was up, they paired up with someone and checked their partner's work for mistakes. If there was a mistake, they highlighed the incorrect information and inserted a comment explaining why it was incorrect. Then they paired up and fixed the mistakes together. I really liked the activity and the kids worked well together.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Refreshed once again

Friday's meeting was great! The discussion cleared up a lot of misconceptions that I had about our expectations. I felt much better when Karl said the technology presented to us is not required...just something to think about; and when Brad said that he did not implement anything new that first semester, he just thought about how he could tie them in. I could relate to several of the comments made during the meeting. I was working so hard to find an activity or some sort of constructivist strategy to use in my classes every day. I would be disappointed if I had to do any "lecture", but like Barb said, I think it is important to find a balance between the two.

We have been using United Streaming in the science office for about a semester. However, I did not realize that you could create quizzes, access lesson plans, etc. The time to search around on the site was nice.

I feel much better about the fact that I've been trying new things in my classroom...even when they "fail" in my mind. This group is an awesome support system!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Stuck in a rut...

Last week and this week, I have been feeling very overwhelmed and bogged down with too many things to do and not enough time! I'm sure many teachers feel the same way during this time of year. At the beginning of the year, I was very anxious and excited to try new activities, use the laptops, etc. All of this takes time to plan....a lot of time for me! Maybe it's the material we're covering in class or trying to keep up with coaching, but last week and this week I have reverted back to the old and familiar.

Last Friday I had the students take 5 minutes to write down what we have done in class that they have liked and what they have not liked. I received great feedback and suggestions. At the beginning of the year, I had the students complete in-class labs, activities, etc. They seemed to dislike the lack of notes and information discussed in class, but many of them stated they liked the labs and in-class activities over note-taking.

I need a day to refresh and reevaluate...I'm anxious to collaborate again on Friday.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Handing it over...

Today in chemistry I was able to let the students jig-saw the notes and information using the laptops. The students worked in groups of 3 or 4 and each found a few properties of a specific section of the periodic table. As a group, they had to create one powerpoint slide (or word document) that explained their assigned section. After the groups placed their presentations into a drop box, they each came up to the front and presented the information to the class. I also allowed the class to type the notes on the laptops if they wanted to instead of writing them down. I know this is a small step in technology and with the laptops, but I'm easing my way into it!
The groups were only given 15 min to research the section of the periodic table, create a presentation as a group and put it in the drop box. Then we spent about 15 min presenting the information and taking notes. While the students were researching and presenting I found my self wanted to jump in and add comments to their presentations. The students provided more than enough information about each section they were assigned and did a great job, it was just hard for me to have them do everything! I think it will be an adjustment for me to hand over the reins, so to speak. Even though I find myself wanting to talk and tell them the information, when I reflect on the day, I'm excited that they are getting used to helping each other and working together to get and understand the material!
I also found some cool interactive websites that I plan to use next week...I will keep you posted on how that goes!