Archive for April, 2010


Teacher Training: Implementing The Next Generation Sunshine State Science Standards In the Classroom

on April 29, 2010 in Teacher Training Workshops Comments Off on Teacher Training: Implementing The Next Generation Sunshine State Science Standards In the Classroom
Just back from conducting teacher training in a rural county in Florida. The challenge was developing a customized workshop to span 7 grade levels of science content. My primary goals were to introduce the teachers to affective inquiry-based investigations to teach the Next Generation Sunshine State Science Standards in the science classroom, as well as presenting techniques for developing critical thinking skills within their students. The teacher participants consisted of several 5th grade elementary science teachers, middle school and high school science teachers. For six hours the teachers were immersed in  hands-on-minds-on investigations that were directly correlated to Florida’s Next Generation Sunshine State Science Standards. Teachers conducted hands-on-minds-on investigations that covered concepts in all four Bodies of Knowledge: The Nature of Science, Earth and Space Science, Physical Science, and Life Science. A key component of the workshop was applying critical thinking skills to each hands-on investigation undertaken by the teacher participants. Key concepts and terms explored through hands-on-minds-on investigations included: nature of matter, earth structures, erosion, weathering, convection currents, interdependence, interconnectedness, characteristics of light waves, spectroscopes, bottle biology models, seed dispersal, plant and animal kingdom, adaptations, Newton’s Laws of Motion, physical and chemical changes, and mixtures and solutions. Teachers designed and constructed numerous models that they brought back with them to their classrooms. It was a great group of teachers, and the administrative support in organizing my visit was wonderful as well. I believe the teachers gained a great deal from their experience. Teacher participants left enlightened, energized, and motivated. I hope to revisit this county again with additional training. As always professional staff development must be an on-going process in every district and school.
Teacher training

Teacher observes an aquatic bottle biology ecosystem.

Teacher training

Inside of a bottle biology ecosystem.

Teacher training

A teacher displays their terrestrial bottle biology ecosystem

Teacher training

Teachers display their terrestrial bottle biology ecosystems.

Teacher training

Teachers construct bottle biology ecosystems.

Teacher training

Teachers gather materials to make a bottle biology ecosystem.

Teacher training

Earthworms, pillbugs, and snails were added to the bottle biology ecosystems.

Teacher training

A coconut was used to teach critical thinking skills and higher order questioning strategies.

Teacher training

Observing the visible spectrum with a spectroscope.

Teacher training

Teachers observe the visible spectrum with a spectroscope.

Teacher training

Teacher observes the visible spectrum with a spectroscope during teacher training workshop.

Teacher training

Inside of a bottle biology ecosystem.

Teacher training

Teachers explored Newton's Laws of Motion

Teacher training

Teachers explored Newton's Laws of Motion with toy cars and ramps

Teacher training

Teachers tested helicopter models outside.

Teacher training

Testing daVinci Helical Screw Helicopter Teachers observed and analyzed sea beans during teacher training.

Teacher training

Vinegar is placed on a limestone rock to observe chemical weathering.

Teacher training

Teachers obtained mass of coquina rock with balance.

Teacher training

Teacher uses an eye loupe to observe coquina rock.

Teacher training

Teachers integrated mathematical skills during teacher training.

Teacher training

Hair dryer and beach sand used to demonstrate erosion.

Teacher training

Observing the viscosity of cornstarch and water.

Teacher training

Teachers used beach sand and water to demonstrate erosion.

Teacher training

Teachers made mantle mud to model the characteristics of Earth's mantle

Teacher training

Teachers made silly putty to model the asthenosphere, also to demonstrate a chemical change.

Hands-On Ecology-Based Explorations For Earth Day

on April 22, 2010 in Hands-On Science Explorations by Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowski Comments Off on Hands-On Ecology-Based Explorations For Earth Day

Today is the official celebration of Earth Day. It is my hopes that all educators have embraced some type of exploration that awakens each student to the wonders of the natural world. During my life science teacher training workshops, teacher participants can be guaranteed that one of the investigations will include explorations with live earthworms. Some of the teachers are reluctant to touch the slimy and wiggly invertebrates. To see a teacher participant overcome their aversion of handling an earthworm, snail, or pillbug brings a great deal of satisfaction to me. Mainly, because I feel confident that the teacher is now more likely to expose their own students to living creatures within their own classroom.

I produced the following video to pay tribute to the earthworm, a common backyard invertebrates. The earthworm’s activities are vital to the plant and animal kingdom. Earthworms are not only consumers, they are decomposers as well. Earthworms benefit the plant and animal kingdom by decomposing organic matter, excreting nutrient rich casts, and their burrowing actions aerate the soil. An earthworm science lesson is a great hands-on science lesson to investigate a multitude of science concepts including: animal classification, interdependence, food chain, population, decomposers, consumers, and producers. As you’ll observe in the video, young children enjoy learning about snails, pill bugs, and earthworms via hands-on explorations. Ideas for earthworm explorations include:

  1. Comparing and contrasting Gummy Worms to synthetic fishing worms, to live earthworms.
  2. Exploring the anatomy of live earthworms.
  3. Measuring earthworms.
  4. Experimenting with what type surfaces earthworms prefer (dry, wet, rough, smooth, etc.).
  5. Making earthworms out of Playdoh and clay.
  6. Make earthworm paintings with fishing worms.
  7. Drawing earthworms based on observations of live earthworms.
  8. Make a classroom terrarium to house common backyard invertebrates (snails, pillbugs, and earthworms).
  9. Make a composte or vermiposte pile.
  10. Read children’s literature with earthworm themes.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0iOx6nSwz0

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