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Archive for June, 2011

I work in a LEED certified building. That means we built the building using recycled materials, we conserve energy, water, and we are generally more environmentally conscious, right? Well, that would be great if it were true, but I don’t know that students have put more thought into their “footprint” and frankly, I can’t say that the building has changed my ways all that much either. So this year, I want to work on that. I plan to incorporate more “green” lessons into the normal curriculum while still learning the same skills and content as years past.

I’m thinking:trash a thon. Starting the year off (as in, FIRST DAY) by having students begin a collection of their trash. Obvious guidelines will have to be set in place, for example, no used toilet paper, no rotting meat products, no bandaids, etc. But besides that, I think it will be an interesting exercise to help students have an idea of how much trash they create. I would then like to bring the trash all together, categorize, and look at what types of trash accumulate. I think it will be interesting to see what we gather, how can we can reduce, and how we make choices in general. Also, I plan to have students incorporate the scientific method into solving this trash dilemma.

That brings us to energy: in our next unit, I want students to not only learn about types of energy and energy exchange, but also, how trash can be converted into ENERGY! It’s true- I researched it already. Europe is all over it, the U.S….here and there it is popping up, but landfills are still so cheap, so that tends to be more convenient I suppose.

Enter: alternative energy sources and fuels, and CARS.

Learning about how cars move (Newton’s Laws, speed, velocity, acceleration), Designing a Car (momentum and safety).

END GOAL: Choose an appliance that uses energy and change or alter the design of this appliance in some way that will make it more energy efficient. Is it the design of the appliance? The type of energy it uses? Can the goal of the appliance be accomplished differently?

Phew…thoughts!??

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Wow- lots of pressure here. My first reflection on my blog- like the first page of a new notebook- what can you write that is worthy of the *first* blank page?

Well first- I suppose I should answer the question: why a blog and why now? I am about to enter my 8th school year as a teacher, which is just wild to me. Already, this year seems like an appropriate transition year for a number of reasons. First, I will be teaching a new curriculum, Physical Science, which I have taught in the past, but it will have been a few years now. Second, I have a new teaching partner. Third, I will have the same students, thus removing the variable of “getting to¬† know your students”- I already know who I am dealing with for next year. And finally, it seems like an appropriate point in my career to make some changes and “refresh” my style. I have enough experience now that I would no longer consider myself a “beginner teacher” by any means, not so much experience that I am sick of teaching, and that middle amount of experience which to me, represents the need to change it up and do something different.

So, how is my approach to teaching going to change in 11-12?

1. I want to make a mental shift in my “role” in the classroom. I want to think of myself as a facilitator more than as a “teacher”. I want my students to be part of my “team” and together, we discover, create, uncover, design, experiment. I don’t want as much responsibility for handing out information and making sure they absorb it. I want to help show them ways to find the information on their own and understand its significance in relation to their lives. And I want them to LOVE it, and to really feel inspired! How many of our students just show up to our class and “check the box”? Are we training them to meet a list of criteria and move on? That is not good enough for me, and I am not satisfied if that is the experience students are having in my class. When they leave my class, I want them to feel empowered and inspired, not filled to the rim with information. I want them equipped with the tools to go out and CHANGE this world, making it better.

2. I want to be professionally connected. It is so easy to isolate oneself in the classroom, and recently, it just feels plain stifling. My creativity is inspired by colleagues, other professionals, and reflection. Through social networks such as twitter and through this blog, I hope to really set foot inside the educator community and get caught in the currents of ideas and new ways of helping our students learn. My questions is, how do people have time for this? I’ll keep you posted on how that works out for me…

3. I want to be a leader in this movement. I hope that by taking these risks and making some changes, I inspire other colleagues to do the same. If we embark on this journey together, we can learn so much from one another, and I hope they are willing to take that step as well.

 

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