Friday, August 20, 2010

MSP August 20

Life, the Universe, and Everything

42 things I've learned from the MSP Camp

Find them in the margins of Encyclopedia Galactica
which I dropped over Europa-- on the ice raft at left

Look it up on your next trip to Europa.
But I do have my towel -- do you have yours?

Thanks to all; looking forward to a great year !

Photo Credits:

Europa: NASA

Douglas Adams on TED
Douglas Adams on TED
Sheri Edwards
Reflect curiosity and wonder...
Go boldly and scatter seeds of kindness..

Thursday, August 19, 2010

MSP August 19

Thank You !

Learn and Practice

Wherever we are, math and science surround us. Last night at the Rotary dinner, the table setting of beautiful daisies and
chrysanthemums dazzles us: are they displaying a Fibonacci sequence?

So, as we try to bring science and math together, we can look around us in classrooms and the school yard. One of my groups today discussed using student surveys of shoe sizes, heights, favorites of some kind by grade/gender, etc. Getting kids interested in data by using data based on things that interest them or things in their world is easier than changing schedules. However, the activities this week have shown such value for students that this group of teachers has created ways to collaborate, to find ways to gather data in science and analyze it in math. Since the science takes longer, for instance, my science colleague will take two days for field labs (we even have already established a stream base nearby). She will only take half her class with her each day, and I will take the other students during writing class for their science time for that day. Those students can do prep work or set up the display website with background information while my other writing students continue their work. Nothing is impossible. As one of the participants today said, "Nothing in life is a straight line." So schedules, those linear Type A artifacts, need to be wrinkled to enable student learning.

And what will we learn? I think Fathom works in more than just math and science. Look at what it can do--

I learned to add summaries, models, and text to the Fathom exploration so that many aspects of data can be analyzed to understand exactly what those numbers are saying -- or not saying.

Isn't that amazing?

In another chart, I learned to hold the shift key down to highlight more than one data point; we discovered a relationship with our data points, even though the overall data didn't show any correlation. Because we weren't careful as a whole class (we were exploring) to conduct investigations in exactly the same way, but because our own data points were conducted the same way, we thought that did show some evidence that our own data had some relevance. Great conversations -- which led to my colleague and I to decide that students really do need to play around first, so they can discover the need to standardize the process of gathering the data so that the class data can mean something. Otherwise, some data may just stand out too much.

Finally, I meant to add to the excellent conversation during Mark's presentation. It's important to remember that students today really demand choice, so they will begin to play, display, and replay their discoveries and data immediately. It's important to allow them to choose their venue for display (like the Prezi team), and to choose options for their audience; it can't just be for the teacher. They can create YouTube, School Tube, or Vimeo videos, Voice Thread, Glogsters, Google Sites, etc. But who for? Will their work be shared with another school? another grade? parents? university scientists and mathematicians? That will help them focus their choices in images, verbiage, data analysis, graphs, etc. TAP: topic, audience, purpose.

And with that --- think of how we created our VoiceThreads. I walked around, took a break, and came back to draw a simple story board of a possible sequence for my colleague. We added a simple revision, then started. While creating it, we continuously revised. In other words -- no great
plan, just do. "Do or do not... there is no try," Yoda reminds us. Digital writing is fluid and natural, less pre-planning, but more natural revision -- and much more collaboration and sharing with each other (which means deeper learning !).


Who knows how many talented people share their expertise for professional development? Some one needs to know that in our little corner of the world, talented people help teachers become better teachers. I've been teaching for over twenty-five years, and have attended many professional development "institutes." My favorite experience at Semiahmoo with the Bill and Milinda Gates Foundation treated teachers with deep respect and provided fantastic leaders to teach us. I must say though, this group of leaders for the Math Science Partnership (rural schools) and TMTW are extra-ordinairre! You have prepared so much relevant material, activities, lessons, and reflections. You have modeled process, content, pedagogy, and reflection. You respect the needs of your learners. You have engaged us to form a community of teachers who are reflective and always stretching to the edge of the best for student learning. You give honor to the teaching profession. Each of you truly represents the best of teaching.

Thank you for teaching us.

Photo Credits:

Stretch Time Flickr CC by JonathanCohen
Daisy Flicker CC by Nils van Rooijen
Others: Sheri Edwards

Sheri Edwards
Reflect curiosity and wonder...
Go boldly and scatter seeds of kindness..

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

MSP August 17

Science and Math: A Natural


Doesn't it
seem a natural to include math in science, and to use science for math data? And the presentation in VoiceThread or in a report is writing.

Doesn't it seem like this is the type of learning students enjoy?

Doesn't it seem that this learning is real education: we learn while doing; we think when it's relevant; we progress when it's interesting.

And, more importantly, each person who is engaged learns what that person needs to learn; and that's not what everyone else learned -- but it's what was important.

This project is like Edutopia and ASCD Whole Child suggests would be better for kids and for education.

The VoiceThread shows how easy it is to include relevant technology that enhances the content.


Who will the MSP report to, and will what we are doing influence educational reform in Washington State?


In writing class, we can do social studies inquiry as well as science inquiry in simpler terms as we did today.

I would also like to thank Calvin (I think that's who) who introduced us to Interactive Notebooks. I've used a form of that in writing class, but as he explained the process in more depth, I see I can do more.

Here's a set of links for anyone interested; they will be what I will look to for more information also:

Sheri EdwardsReflect curiosity and wonder...Go boldly and scatter seeds of kindness..42

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

MSP August 17

I remembered what I learned last year: be more patient with my students; think:
  • What did they see that is confusing them?
  • What did they hear that is confusing them?
  • What is it I can do to guide them?
With all the math and science vocabulary, processes, and thinking flowing past us these two days, we feel like the little Douglas buckwheat, off to the side and overlooked in its attempt to bring life to the desert.
Buckwheat are one of my favorite desert plants, and just as it slowly spreads in the sizzle of the sunny soil, so do I take what I can do and what I know to slowly stretch my knowledge. I know I can, I know I can. Like my students, I need the time to sort through the vocabulary and processes of math to strengthen my understanding. I'm not afraid of it; I just need the time to think through the puzzle, but just as I start to share and explain to my colleague, we're on to something else. I need to watch for this with my students.

So, what I remembered from last year is this: replay or review the directions and explanations as if I were the student -- what is it that stumps him/her? Sometimes, its just a simple word. "Draw" conclusions means a sketch, doesn't it? Other times, they miss a point or a step.
Here's a story from my Facebook PLN today to illustrate misunderstanding:
"Kelly Wade Hines Intro'd friendly letters with my 3rd graders today. I asked the class "So, what is a friendly letter?" I was excited that several hands went up. One student responded "D. D is very nice." Another kid said "F, Mrs. Hines." I wonder which of the 26 are unfriendly!? :p"

So last year, I observed more, reviewed the directions and processes with the student more, and stepped into the shoes of my students more just so I could understand their thinking. And so I will this year, too.

Also, I loved the modeling of reviewing the processes needed to be successful with labs -- the how to invite yourself into the explanation to students instead of invading them with lecture on "Do this and not this." And the release of trust-- believing we could handle the process and equipment. Very nice. I think its important to build relationships this way, and even if I need to release that trust slowly in steps as we build to more complex activities, kids respond to the fact that you trust them. We get what we expect. Great modeling for starting the school year. Thanks.


I think it is important to focus on the high school science/math, moving through as you are so those teachers aren't bored. But maybe, the elementary/ middle school and special education teachers could continue to solve their problems or their science as you move into the very deep and analytical, statistical aspects of high school?

So, now I can do this:

y=57.5*0.853 -20.6y=28.4475 °C
y=83.2055 °F

Conversion Table

Remember to label!

Thanks for the information, modeling, and process practice.

Sheri Edwards
Reflect curiosity and wonder...
Go boldly and scatter seeds of kindness..

Monday, August 16, 2010

MSP August 16

Welcome Back!


Early birds get the worm. We
won't make it for breakfast. Omak is only fifty miles away, but it takes more than an hour to get there if one drives safely on the beautiful winding road through the Okanogan National Forest. There might be some data to analyze here on the Douglas Fir Tussock Moth Suppression Project. That would be a real project about which to learn. You can follow the Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forest twitter feed here:

I think I learned about the "models" button in Fathom; that's a pretty slick trick to use, and I'm sure there's more. We were stuck on finding slope (we're short a math person right now), and the model let us figure it out. I'll need to play around with it more.

I also think I learned about r^2 in that model button -- that number tells you how valid the data is. Yay! I knew that 1.0 meant the points were probably right on the mark. (That fearful stats class from 25 years ago still haunts me, and still pops out ideas when I need them).

Since it's only the first day, I think I'm just thinking I'm learning, and tomorrow I will.

What I really liked about today: the technology was part of the process, used as needed, and not the focus. We're learning to apply the technology with our standards, not just use tech for tech sake. :)


I don't remember learning last time about the science 5E's+R we followed today:
Reflect, which could be the sixth e: envision

I'm trying to follow the STAR process, as recommended by our administrator, which could mean:
See -- Engage and Explore
Talk -- Explain
Apply- Elaborate
Reflect -- Evaluate and Envision

Question 1: What do you think?

Oh, I am so glad we have the science and math people together. Science is the forest, and math are all the needles. (Just kidding.) One math person said, "I'm just not a scientist." A mathematician is a scientist naturally! But:

Question 2: When will the math/science people work their schedules and standards to collaborate? Such a dilemma in education... separate, but equal...


Another local project is the Washington Pass Restoration Project, picture at left. I rather feel like I'm on the edge of knowing what to do, but taking that step...

We have so much pressure on us to meet AYP, to pass that test -- are some teachers wondering how to manage the time?

One of my favorite sites is Edutopia. It focuses on what works in schools, and project/problem based learning is one area that engages students to learn, grow, and apply. It includes those science 5Es. Projects like Voices On The Gulf developed from the PBL Summer Camp. They have an entire list of resources and lessons. Here's one on liquid density and oil spills from National Geographic Xpeditions (another one of my favorite sites when I taught science).

I think Jama and I will look at this site for some relevant ideas related to something that has touched all of us. Surely there is data just waiting for us to discover, and perhaps offer some sense and maybe help to the issue.

Perhaps, for a visual, look at:

as food for thought...

Photo Credits:

Okanogan Forest and Washington Pass:
Duck by Flickr CC Adam Mela ncon

Sheri Edwards
Reflect curiosity and wonder...
Go boldly and scatter seeds of kindness..