20 February 2013
But this got me thinking: Should all students take chemistry in high school?
I can't believe I am going to say this, but no. At least, not the way it is currently taught (at least the way it is taught in most schools).
The Chemistry curricula needs to change based on the needs of the students. In my school there are College Prep (CP), Honors and Advanced Placement (AP) classes. AP is a 2nd year course so I am going to take it out of this discussion. The only difference between Honors and CP is the math level of the students. What if, instead, we redivided the class based on what the students wanted to do after HS. Here's what I am thinking:
Honors (for Engineers)--intended for students with strong math backgrounds and the desire to pursue engineering in college. General chemistry topics will be discussed along with chemical and materials engineering.
Honors (for science majors)--intended for students looking to pursue a career in science or medicine. General chemistry topics will be discussed along with pharmaceutical chemistry and chemistry related to the medical field. Students will do extensive research projects and analyze scientific studies from academic journals. This course will be lab intensive immersing students in college-style labs and lab reports.
CP (for science majors)--intended for students who have an interest/aptitude in science, but may not pursue it as a career. All general chemistry topics will be discussed. This course will be lab intensive exposing students to different college-style lab techniques and equipment. Collaboration will be expected as students will work in teams on all activities throughout the course.
CP (for the non-science major)--intended for students who may not pursue science after high school. General chemistry topics will be discussed through a hands-on approach to the course. The class will taught primarily through labs and projects getting students to learn chemistry through experience. Guided inquiry activities will be incorporated and students will work on all activities in cooperative groups. Students will be required to draw on their every day experiences to develop some of the content of the course.
I guess I am still in the academy school mindset that designs learning around specific students intended college majors. I actually like aspects of all of these and wish they were possible in a public school.
Anyone doing a course system like this where students are taking the same course, but it is focused along different career paths? I would love to get some examples of this taking place in public schools.
19 February 2013
--they may not want to learn what I am teaching them, but they can do it. They also do not know the way that works best for them. Teaching HS you get a lot of kids who will tell you their method for studying and that works best for them. Unless you get a perfect score on everything you do, there's always room for improvement.
--no longer is it acceptable to say "I'm not that tech-savvy." The personal computer has now been around for thirty years. It's time to figure out how to use it. Computers, the Internet, cell phones, none of these things are going away. If you don't start embracing them you will become irrelevant to your students. It is OK to ask for help, especially from the students, to learn ways to use technology more effectively.
--teaching is an art form. Ever notice how artists are just a little bit different than everyone else? They see the world differently and therefore are not treated like the rest of the population. The same goes for teachers. If you are thinking about getting into education, understand that if you do not commit yourself to the job, the art, the students, then you will never reach your full potential as an educator.
--I saw a statistic somewhere that said most high school seniors will eventually accept a job that doesn't currently exist. That doesn't mean the company is expanding and adding jobs. Rather that they haven't invented the job title yet. To my father's generation this would be like saying you could become a software engineer. Or for my fellow high school graduates, telling us we could design blu-ray players. If we are preparing students for the jobs that currently exist we are preparing them to be forgotten and outdated. We need to give students the skills to be successful at any job they may have and learn how to adapt what they know to new situations. Actually just that last part. We need students who can adapt. Adapt their thinking, adapt their environment, adapt their mindset.
5. Every problem can be solved with a logical, scientific approach.
--It doesn't matter if you are dealing with a scientific problem or not. If you approach everything in your live with a clearly defined order, you will be more likely to get the result you are satisfied with. Go back for a second to your middle school days and recall the Scientific Method. Make an observation, develop a hypothesis, test your hypothesis and then refine your method based on your results. (Yes that was an over simplification, but go with it)
That's my list. It's not perfect and it is always a work in progress. What's the #1 item on your list?
17 February 2013
16 February 2013
08 February 2013
05 February 2013
Have you noticed that we have shifted to a beta world? A place where it's is perfectly fine to produce something that isn't quite finished or polished as long as you promise to make refinements later. I've noticed it a lot lately especially in games for mobile devices. You download a game, beat the first 4 levels and bam level 5 says " Coming Soon!"
Google has made an art form out of being beta. Gmail was beta for FIVE years!! In fact most of their products come out as beta or invite only, but they give us their word that they are constantly updating services and we trust them to do so.
So if beta is the accepted norm, why do we still insist, in education, that everything is perfect before it is rolled out? Curriculum has to written over the course of a year, then checked by a supervisor, then approved by a Board of Education before finally being put into practice. Teachers fear new methods or activities unless they have been thoroughly tested and widely accepted. Even new courses and clubs can take years in the approval process causing those who propose them to lose all interest in running them.
This begs the usual question "why aren't schools adjusting to the changes in the world around them?" I am sure that at some point there was a purpose to all of the beauracracy but I don't think those reasons are here anymore.
You know who understands this? Charter and Magnet schools. They are schools of choice; kids have to muster the courage to leave their hometown school and go to this new location where they may not know anyone. If these choice schools do not constantly modify and make improvements to the program, their enrollment will decrease and they may have to close. But local districts have a guaranteed enrollment so there is no motivation to change.
Maybe the key to success is to think more like Magnet schools: Develop desirable programs that entice kids to want to come to school everyday. And every year/month/day refine it so it is evolving and just a little bit better than it was before.
What is your school doing to stay on the forefront of education?