This company creates online interactive lessons. They offer “turn key” learning experiences.
The company sells this software on DVDs as a one time purchase or as a subscription to online software.
Online version allows for constant upgrades from the company.
OS version gets incremental mid point updates.
Online version “integrates” with Google Classroom.
Never heard details about this
Even the OS version needs an Internet connection.
Every module is sold separately:
Starry Night (different levels)
Layered Earth, etc
Each module has multiple lessons in it.
Lesson include key concepts, instruction, and assessments.
Not a huge fan of this product. I don’t know how this stacks up versus other Earth Science technology but the UI feels a few years old. The internet went down during the session and the presenter had to resort to screenshots so maybe there is something I missed because of that.
Very often the experience I saw was a text dense panel on the left third of the screen with a Google Earth iframe on the right two thirds. Not sure why you would buy this…
The presenter is advocating for using science to collect data that you then process with mathematics. I agree with the idea but then he said that other technology (iPads, Chromebooks, or laptops) is inferior to a graphic calculator… we do not see eye to eye on this.
It’s a Trap! Got caught in a math lesson…
Cool resource developed by Texas Instruments: STEM Behind Hollywood This session was walking through one of their most popular activities from here.
The lesson itself was not a powerful learning experience for neurobiology or epidemiology. It was certainly positive but I will not work to incorporate it in my class because this would be a step back for my class. I could have kids do this faster and for free via Google Sheets.
I will be sharing this with the math department and I see these STEM in Hollywood activities being something that would be a nice science infusion into a math class.
College Science Teaching and Student Success
This session was very different from the rest that I attended today. I was hoping that this would be a session that would let me get a sense of what I could do as a high school teacher to better prepare students for the rigors of college science.
What I got was a group discussion between 7 people (including myself) about the importance of mathematical understanding to a student’s success in college science. The two college professors that were in the session (a physicist and a biologist) both bemoaned student’s lack of ability to apply mathematical understanding to science. They indicated that students could compute just fine, but often didn’t understand what the answers meant.
Once we were all on the same page the discussion turned to why this was the case. At this point I could have closed my eyes and been sitting in the faculty lounge at my school. These people from across the country had the same issues and complaints as each other and all the teachers I talk to in Harford County.
In the end, I shared my passion for “The Two Sigma Problem”, mastery learning, and gamification as a solution to their problems. The group was very interested in how this paradigm shift could address the issues they face.
Friday- Day 2
Creating an Understanding-Based Curriculum for the Next Generation Science Standards
I never learned about Understanding by Design in my formal pedagogical education, my university was very much focused on multiple intelligences and learning styles. My mother was an educator/administrator and she gave me the 2nd edition of Understanding by Design when I graduated from undergrad. UbD made so much sense to me that I was frustrated to not have experienced it formally. Today I get a taste of that. Needless to say, I am very excited about this session.
Jay is a big fan of NGSS, he says it is the strongest framework/curriculum of the national core subjects.
Understanding and transferring information is more important than ever in the age of Google.
How do you determine what is most important to understand?
A viable curriculum is the #1 school-level factor impacting student achievement.
Standards are not a curriculum
Backward Design (dates back to the 1940’s)
Identify desired results
Determine acceptable evidence
Plan learning experiences and instruction
Final step is planning instruction
New Template Item on Top- Transfer
These are similar to standards.
They are long-term performance goals.
Established Goals are now on the left and go from top to bottom of the template.
Key Point- You don’t need to know the parts of a car to know how to drive the car.
Think of assessment as a photo album
Each assessment is a photo
Some photos are wide angle, some are macro, etc
What is Understanding?
Application of learning to a new thing
Creating, predicting, etc
Teach someone, justify, etc
Understanding must be earned in the mind of the learner.
Must be feasible in the time available
Driven by a small set of Long-Term Transfer Goals that are decided by vertical teams.
These should be performance based
Think about designing curriculum as coaching a sport
A lot of teachers are good at teaching the players “the playbook”= teaching facts.
Many teachers do not “win the game” = their students do not have the ability to transfer learning.
Every subject matter has two strands of Essential Questions
Process Knowledge- NGSS Practices
Content Knowledge- NGSS Cross-Cutting Concepts
Use the Matrix Method to make sure you build a complete learning experience for your kids
Cross-Cutting Concepts vertical axis
Practices on horizontal axis
Eventually, your curriculum should build “cornerstone tasks”
“Playing the game”
Toddler Tee ball to MLB
Helpful resources to develop literacy.
I am fired up!
STEM Leaders in Action: The Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship (AEF) Program
Write their curriculum using NGSS and backward mapping based on the needs of their high school teachers.
As they were writing their curriculum they focused on skills with content being secondary.
One of the only good presentations I have seen at this conference
They are prepared and have something worth talking about!
7th Grade- How to think like a scientist
How to ask scientific questions
How to work with data
How to understand graphs
How to use technology in science
How to deal with information bais
How to form conclusions from data
Earth Science and Environmental Science
Two tracks- based on skill attainment not grade
Holistic levels based on grades, skills, 21-century skills
Regular track- gets more scaffolding to make sure kids have the skills to be a scientific thinker by 9th grade
Advanced track- gets more freedom to advance scientific skills
Designed to teach collaboration and resiliency
Unit capstones are project-based learning challenges
These students are better at high school than their predecessors
90 percent of the students from this cohort got a 3 or higher on AP Physics as 9th graders…
These students self-started an Open Lab club where kids could do more of this type of challenges.
Summary of My Experience
I am pleased that I came to this conference. Not only did I like the change of pace from my day to day life (Shake Shack for lunch every day!), but it was also a helpful perspective update.
I am always aware of how awesome my job is and that my current position is perfect for me, but this conference just gave a healthy set of data in support of that belief. I will always be grateful to the people who helped me get this job.
This experience was also a confidence boost. I am always proud of what my students and I do in the classroom. However, the competitive side of me can never shake the idea that someone out there is doing a better job at preparing kids for the future than I am. That voice is always there and keeps me innovating and working harder. That voice was silent for the past 3 days!
Hearing what people were touting as their greatest accomplishment (like using a flipped classroom model) and knowing that we did that years ago and kept advancing, was affirming. This realization won’t slow me down, but it was nice to know that my kids are going to be competitive in the workforce.
I am excited also by the fact that there were a few presenters who “got it” and were doing good advanced work too. For instance, it was cool to see the teachers from Massachusetts have the courage to build a real 21st-century science curriculum from the ground up.
I am eager to work harder for my kids and I am looking forward to my time later this month in Orlando for the 2017 PLTW Summit.