Blogger Technical Issues

Learning protocols takes patience and time. If students don't get protocols instilled in them at the beginning of the year, the rest of the year will be a struggle.  It's worth the beginning-of-the-year lag to do it right.


Students have been having difficulty understanding how to post, tag, and add pictures. Since I've been trying to assess their understanding, and they have not posted, I took time today to go through the steps once again, but this time on the whiteboard in class with students, not at computers. It seems that repeat, repeat, repeat is necessary for the students to get the hang of posting their work. Some students were making a new blog each time they were supposed to make a new post. Most students were not labeling with key words. Each week for the past month I increased the blog reflection requirements. Today was a good time to review the entire scope.

  1.  Where the blog name is:  It's not the student username. It's not an email address. It's not the title at the top of the page. It's not the url when in edit mode. The blog name IS the url when in "view blog" mode, and is followed by "blogspot.com".

  2. Add a new post, NOT a new blog. Each blog has to have a unique name (see above) so adding a blog every time you want to say something is going to get complicated when it comes time to keep track of your posts. It is much easier to put all of one topic (or course) under one blog.  

  3. Compose or HTML? Know which format you are typing in! Compose is a "what you see" format where html requires coding for formatting bullets and numbers and such. You can work in either, just be aware! I recommend you keep you options (see image below) clicked to"Interpret typed HTML" and "Press enter for line breaks".

  4. Record labels.  Labels are "key words" that help others find your awesome discoveries. Key words are often the major points or topics of your post. Key words are separated by commas. In blogger they are called "labels" and are in the settings choices on the right. (In wordpress they are called "tags".)

  5. Include pictures to add interest. Cite pictures you did not take. Give pictures a descriptive or interesting caption. Pictures are added by clicking on the little picture frame at the top and following the directions that follow. The school library computers may have blocked you from doing this, in which case you will need to complete at home or on my computer after school.

  6. Include links. Links are helpful for sending a reader to the definition of a technical word you use, and for directing the reader to more information and/or your sources of information. 
  7. Publish when done. No one, including your teacher, can read what you did not publish. If you go back and edit your post, then you must "update" to save. How does it look? 

Our Day In Hampton Harbor


Learning how to use a parallel ruler

Floating Lab Field Trip



Oceanography students were blessed with a picture perfect day for their field trip with the UNH Marine Docents Floating Lab Program on October 4, 2013. This program took place on a fishing boat rented from Eastman's Docks in Seabrook, NH and consisted of five separate lab activities, each about 25  minutes long. The five labs were:
  • Plankton sampling
  • Charting a position
  • Benthic organisms
  • Water sampling
  • Georges Bank Fish
Students were grouped into five groups and rotated through the stations. Each station had two marine science docents, so the student-to-teacher ratio was no more than 1:3! This was a wonderful opportunity to get some authentic learning for high school students. We also took advantage of a sandy beach lesson after lunch. Each station is briefly described below.

Trawling For Benthics

Before any of the activities got underway, we trawled for benthic organisms and the students helped pull up the catch.

Bottom trawling is a benthic sampling technique that uses a net dragged along the bottom of the water body to collect organisms living there, for further study. The device used in this program is shown in model form in the image below. If has floats on the top of the net and weights on the bottom of the net to keep the net as open as possible. For purposes of scientific study, it provides a "grab" sample of a small area and facilitate habitat mapping studies. Since trawls are destructive in nature, they are not to be used in fragile habitats.

A model of the trawling net is used to explain its operation

1003130901
The trawl line dragging behind the boat Students line up and grab a piece of the trawl line rope to pull it up.


Many hands make light work.

Image

Plankton Catch

Students used a standard plankton net - and I forget the size mesh - for taking a plankton sample. The critters were then rinsed down the mesh and collected in a box, where students could take a sample for viewing. The viewing container, I believe this is a DiscoveryScope, is a little clear rectangular box that fits together. This viewing box then fits onto a frame with a magnifying glass to look through. I could not get any pictures through the view box but some of the students were able to.

Stunning students sampling plankton

Working a plankton sampling net

Viewing box to see the plankton collected

Charting Your Position

At this station students determined their location in Hampton Harbor using a portion of the marine chart and parallel rulers. We had tried a similar activity in class, but did not have any parallel rulers, and this - being on the water bobbing around and looking for water towers and high tide lines - gave a more honest representation of how to plot your location. The students also had real compasses, rather than their iPhone compass, which further improved the activity.

Docent showing the Georges Bank Chart



Benthic Organisms

The best way to describe what was pulled from the bottom is to show you the pictures.

1003130919e Tough guy crab

1003130919d Baby lobsters[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2188" align="aligncenter" width="500"]1003130941 Sea squirt[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2191" align="aligncenter" width="500"]1003130946c Red algae1003130946b Baby mussels and tunicates

1003130954 Front box: barnacles feeding

1003130919b Sandollar, baby flounder, and red algae

1003130915 Adult female lobster with thousands of eggs on swimmeretes

The lobster in this picture was quite large with an impressive number of eggs on the swimmeretes.  I wish I had gotten a better picture
1003130954b


[caption id="attachment_2185" align="aligncenter" width="500"]1003130919c Two baby lobsters with a Jonas crab

Water Sampling

Students setting up a Van Dorn bottle, horizontal water sampler, to take water sample.

<img class=" wp-image " id="i-2158" title="Students take water samples at 5m depth" alt="" Students take water samples at 5m depth

1003131018Georges Bank Fish

Thinking about what fish use Georges Bank, what they eat, where they live, and their abundance.

Afternoon Sandy Beach Program

We had a 45 min break for lunch (yay! beach pizza from Tripoli's!) and then one last activity on the beach: How do beaches form? Students examined and compared high, mid, and low-tide sands as well as the wrack line, and made nifty little booklets about what they uncovered.

1003131249a1003131249

Student Assignment

Students who went on this field trip are to blog their learning, choosing from one of the questions below or creating their own:
  • How was your ocean literacy changed?
  • What is one thing you learned today?
  • Choosing just one of the floating lab stations, what value did you get from the station?
  • How did this field trip help you understand marine science?
  • How did the field trip illustrate methods used by scientists in the real marine science investigations?
  • What do you understand better now, as a result of the learning stations?
All statements must be supported with evidence (examples), and have follow-up from additional sources (links). The usual two paragraph minimum with a related picture applies. The pictures Ms. Goodrich took are here.

Kudos

It was a good day. The weather was spectacular. The students were engaged in real, honest-to-goodness science practices. And the staff of both Eastman's and the UNH team were great.

Thanks goes out to Dari Ward at UNH for organizing this wonderful ocean literacy program. The docents on this field trip were extremely professional, knowledgeable, friendly and experienced. They enhanced the program considerably with these qualities.  The program itself is funded through a New Hampshire Sea Grant.

Lab Safety Posters

Safety in the High School Science Lab

The first thing science teachers have to do each year - before students can mess about with the science-y stuff - is to go over safety procedures and rules of the lab. It can feel tedious teaching the same thing for five periods in a row, especially when you know they got the same lecture the previous year and the year before that, but it must be done.

If you are interested in what our lab safety contract looks like, you can find it here.

The SOP is to hand out the lab safety contract, discuss the rules, take a tour of the room and review the locations and use of equipment, view a video, and finally, take a quiz. We (science department) usually show "Accident at Jefferson High", but this year Flinn Scientific's lab safety video was discovered so a couple of us showed that as an alternative.

The walls of my classroom start out the year with very little on them as I prefer to have the student work posted instead of purchased or teacher-generated posters. Thus, it makes for a good opening activity for my physical science students to make the lab safety posters. Since I have more than one class and I don't want to fill what little wall space I have with safety posters, my students work in pairs to create a safety poster from one of the rules.

And that is what physical science did today, make lab safety posters. Some were quite clever.



How Science is Really Done

Be very, very careful what you put into that head, because you will never, ever get it out. Thomas Cardinal Wolsey (1471-1530)
Today was the day I told the students that there is no "Scientific Method". It is astonishing that the misconception of "steps" of the scientific method continue to be propagated through textbooks and poster publishers.

I use the marvelous website linked to the graphic below to explain how science really works. 


http://undsci.berkeley.edu/article/scienceflowchart
How Science REALLY Works: The Flowchart


Engaging Brains

Waking Up End-Of-Summer Brains

Back to school week had just two days of classes so my plan for day two was a simple wake-up-the-brain lecture and response; with a four-day weekend coming up and student schedules still in fluctuation I don't want to start an activity.

Most of my students don't want to be in a science class. Lucky me gets to engage with the students who are less than thrilled about school and science. Day one students wrote a couple sentences on why they were taking the course (physical science or oceanography) and what they hoped to gain from the course.

When students ask me "why do I need to know this? I'm not going to be a [scientist/chemist/physicist]" I usually respond with "you are making new neuron connections" and "don't close doors of opportunities". I might also talk about being an educated voter, etc., etc... My response is often clumsy, though, so when I found Jared Diamond's response to this question I decided to steal it; he is much more eloquent than I am.



As I read Jared Diamond's suggestions I amplified with specific questions or examples:

  1. How did you decide what to wear today? What to bring to school? How did you decide on what classes to take? In your desire to be successful, you make choices based on scientific problem-solving methods. 
  2. If you were the town public works director, how would you decide how to fertilize the ball fields? What if you were one of the officials in this pesticide vs. bees case? 
  3. How will you know which candidate is the one you want to vote for? How will you decide which way to vote on ballot issues?
  4. Be supportive of your fellow students who want to focus on a science career.
I closed this class by returning to the students the writing they had done the previous day about why they were taking the course, and directing them to add more to the work based on what we had just discussed.




Day 1: Introductions

A Hot and Humid Beginning

Today was pretty much uneventful but, because I want to get into the habit of writing daily, I am still posting my reflection.

Each class has a different personality to it, as always, and the two physical science classes were extremely different from each other. The morning starts with three oceanography classes followed by a physical science, break and lunch, another physical science and study hall. I have already typed up the list of study hall students on a sign-in sheet - yay me.

The activity today was rather dull, but necessary. I told myself it was the heat that was making the students' eyes look glazed over, not my voice.  We went over the course expectations, signature sheets, and curriculum. Then I asked them to write on
Why I am taking this course. What I hope to gain, knowledge-wise, from taking the course.
I asked for specific example. Write more than 3 sentences. Use sophisticated language. I got one or two sentences each, and many were exactly what I said NOT to write: "for the credits".

Tomorrow I talk about Why Study Science.


You Can't Always Get What You Want

But You Might Get What Others Need

This Fall I will be teaching Physical Science, a course that some capable teachers refuse to teach because of the population that gets placed in the class; it tends to be loaded toward the behaviorally and cognitively troubled children. Being one with the highest seniority in the Science Department, I had hoped that I would be assigned classes that were more intellectually rather than behaviorally challenging, but, contrary to the promise of the Principal, that did not happen. Consequently my disappointment lead me to procrastinate all summer in preparing for the course. Classes start next week.

This past week I spent organizing materials, both electronic and paper, and realized that I will have no trouble with the material for the course. It's quite amazing the variety of material I have accumulated, and I continue to accumulate because of my LOVE OF LEARNING and INTENSE CURIOSITY.

Students love me. Most, anyway. My students have told me that I'm random, but my friends say that what children see as random is just a result of my high intelligence and fast processing speed. I just think there is an amazing amount of WONDER in the world and I am trying to capture as much as possible. I get visibly excited over ideas. Students see this and I hope that it shows them that it is OK to find wonder, ask questions, get curious about HOW DID THAT HAPPEN.

Physical science will be fun, rigorous, and relevant. It has goals based in high school chemistry and physics state standards. It is lab-based and uses available technology for publishing. Readings and questions will be pulled from current publications and news. I am confident that it is a great course.

Why am I discontented that I have been assigned this course then? I am perfectly capable of teaching it. BUT I fall in love with my students and they take advantage of this. I stress over each and every one of them, trying to meet their needs. And these children need something other than standard academic.

I wanted something more scholarly. The school needed someone to handle the hard-to-handle students.
It's all good.