Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sharing is Caring

Three things to share:

1. Twitter Math Camp is July 19-22 in St. Louis. It's exactly what it sounds like. Some math teachers on twitter decided to get together, work on some math problems, and teach each other all sorts of stuff. It's free, small, and low key.  Think edcamp rather than NCTM.

2. Math52 is a Kickstarter from Mathalicious. If you pledge $52 you get an entire year's membership to Mathalicious.

3. Frank Noschese has a TEDxNYED talk up called Learning Science by Doing Science.

One request:
1. My schedule for next year is half 8th grade physical science (what I have always have taught) and half 6th grade (ack!) earth science (double ack!).

The California standards for sixth grade (page 27) are all earth and no space. I'm not too worried about the day to day (unless of course you have a killer lesson/unit you're dying to share) but more about the approach. I'm not sure how to lay this whole thing out so it flows together. My natural inclination is to build everything around the concepts of systems and cycles but really I don't know. In the pre-blogotwittersphere era I would have needed to teach the whole year to figure out how to fit everything together. I'm hoping to shortcut that process using all of you. If it helps, this is a non-tested subject so I have much more freedom to emphasize/de-emphasize certain parts of the curriculum.

  • What do I build the course around? What do I keep coming back to? 
  • I'd appreciate any recommendations for resources, curriculums you like, textbooks (gasp!) that do it right, etc? Anything and everything is welcome. 
  • If you teach this subject/grade level, what are the sticking points? Big misconceptions? 
  • If you teach HS earth, what is something, content-wise, that you wish students had a better understanding of?
Thanks for the help. 


  1. Jason,
    As for earth science topics, I think the most important thing I can think of that students should know is the theory of continental drift. And not just some "gee whiz Pangea" stuff, I'd like students to understand that this theory is young—younger than most of their grandparents, not to long before then, people thought the idea that continents were moving underneath our feet to be crazy. I think there are probably some great demos you could do to help them understand sea floor spreading by rigging up oppositely aligned bar magnets under a piece of cardboard, and then have students use a compass to measure the changes in the magnetic field, and then if you had two different setups, you could tell them some time differential—this second piece of cardboard represents the same piece of crust, 10,000 years later, and students could calculate how quickly the sea floor is spreading.

    For space science, I think you could base the whole course around launching a space balloon—this could cover so many topics of atmospheric and space science and it's super exciting for kids to do. You could easily put together a working balloon for less than $1000, and I feel like I've seen programs out there that are donating space ballon kits to schools (but I couldn't find any by googling). Geoff Schmit has writtne some excellent posts about the things his high school space balloon club has done.

  2. I have taught Earth Science at the high school level, and I do base my curriculum around systems and cycles. I also try to emphasize that small changes lead to big changes in every topic we study, from plate tectonics to other surface processes (glaciers, river systems, etc). I have found this to be pretty effective as a concept to tie back into all the time, so they can see exactly how the Earth is constantly getting a "face lift."

    As far as resources, I have found that the Teacher's Domain has a lot of nice interactives and videos for students ( I also like the Geoblox sets ( students can build their own models and summarize or write stories about the slow processes that cause those changes.

  3. If you possibly can -- and I know this is a stretch -- consider how to get the kids to go orienteering. We could talk...

  4. I focus around the Earth as an entire system and how each subsystem affects the entire system. I tend to emphasize the "how" everything happens which allows me to add chemistry and a bit of physics into my instruction. I mean, lets face it...chem and phys have cooler labs.
    Some common misconceptions: continents don't move, earthquakes are rare, clouds are filled back up over the oceans, fog and clouds are not the same thing, and everything involving the earth-moon and earth-sun relationships. Almost forgot, size and scale of everything. For me, the cause of seasons is the most difficult to fix. IF anyone has a tried and true method - please share. I have tried every lab/activity on the internet and I still have one or two that will tell me the reason for summer is that the Earth is closer to the sun. Grrr...