“National Science Teacher Association” Website Review

Assessment_NGSS_alignment_2Have you ever been to the National Science Teacher Association website? If you have not, no worries! You can find all the reasons that you should below. I recently did a reflection on the difference between learning standards by state and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS); I also listed and described a few resources that I found to be helpful.

  1. They both provide expectations; however, the NGSS provides core ideas and provides a breakdown of concepts that our TEKS do not; NGSS also provides cross-cutting concepts, and science and engineering practices.
  2. Multicultural Science Education position interested me the most; I have taken a course on diversity and equity in education, and we discussed the importance of multicultural curriculums. It is so important to be able to create and model real-life connections with all our students. So often, we fall short of doing that.
  3. I like how the video begins by introducing these standards on a level that the parents and any person who is not aware of these standards can understand them; the next video begins to explain the need and the difference in the standards vs general expectations. I like the fact that these standards include the students and what they need to gain and how they can gain clarity, insight, understanding, and truly inquire.
  4. I like the ELL resources in the learning center, so often we try to find ways to accommodate for our ELL students and fall short. It was nice to see that these resources were available.
  5. I found that there is a Google Virtual Natural History Museum, which is awesome and helpful in incorporating technology. I also found out that smartphone microscopes are legit, and I want to invest in one. I know our students would be super engaged and intrigued to use these in an investigation.
  6. These lists can be helpful in cross-curricular activities, project-based learning, research purposes, and much more.
  7. Overall, this website is filled with resources, guidance, professional learning opportunities, and insight. I’m currently living in Atlanta, and I was sad to see I missed the Science on My Mind Conference. I found under the curriculum planning tab, some helpful information to get started or transition to using the standards. It also helps with how to lesson plan effectively using the standards; for first-year teachers, this will be a life-saver. When I entered the profession, I had to figure it out on my own. I was given a template and expected to know what to do, which was difficult because I was not an education major. I appreciate the fact that it does not just throw information at you instead it shows you how to use it and when, unlike our TEKS. The connecting to common core section was helpful as well. I fell in love with the classroom resources section, especially the life science resources and activities.

Andrea’s Science Autobiography

Biology 

My first genuine experience with science began in my ninth-grade biology class where I met my former biology teacher, Ms. Taylor.  I do not know if it was biology that stood out to me or the fact that this teacher, who just so happen to teach science talked to me beyond the classroom; this teacher was interested in my life outside of this class. At this moment, high school biology became my favorite subject, and she made learning fun and interesting.

In this class was also my first dissection experience, and I was blown away. My most memorable experience was a wildflower collection project that we had to do. We created this photo album with different flowers that we had to find such as a bull thistle, Spanish moss, and many more. That was my first time ever going on a nature hunt/discovery. I still name flowers when I pass by them. It was that year I decided that I wanted to major in biology in college.

It’s funny because I do not really recall my middle school science experience other than my teacher was mean, and we did many worksheets. After ninth grade, I fell in love with science, except chemistry. In secondary school, I only took biology, chemistry, botany, and environmental science. College, however, is a different story. My major was biology with a concentration in pre-pharmacy, so those classes ranged from biology, cell biology, human anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, environmental science, botany, and microbiology. My lack of love for organic chemistry shifted my desire to enroll in pharmacy school. My college years is when I became fascinated with science and theory; I guess that had to do with the fact I was going deeper in content and context.

My high school and college science experiences stand out to me more because they were engaging and hands on. My teachers talked to me outside of the classroom and supported me in extracurricular activities. Those are the moments and teachers that stuck with me the most. It overflowed into my adult years when I became a middle/high school science educator. I knew what engaged me in learning and what turned me off in learning; I was able to use that knowledge to make sure my students were engaged and that I built relationships with each one of them. After all, that is how you truly reach and teach all your students. Those moments and individuals demonstrated and modeled how to be an effective teacher.

The Power of Centers/Stations

The Power of Centers

by

The Educator’s Call, LLC

Zzzzzzz…..

“Settle down class.” “Ms., I’m bored.” “Do we have to this?”

stressed teacher

“Differentiated instruction will save you, or at least help you reach your teaching goals.”

In the elementary and secondary classroom, we have multiple types of learners that can be categorized as:

  1. Verbal/linguistic
  2. Logical/mathematical
  3. Visual/spatial
  4. Bodily/kinesthetic
  5. Musical
  6. Interpersonal
  7. Intrapersonal
  8. Naturalist
  9. Existential

 

Whew… *wipes sweat*. I get it, educators have superhuman strength and superhuman powers, said no one ever. However, we are responsible for making sure every student regardless of their learning style is reached. Often, we find ourselves stressed and overwhelmed with completing this task with only forty-five minutes in a classroom that has a ratio of 1:30 students.

What if I told you that there is a way to make your life less stressful, in the classroom at least. Allow me to introduce you to stations or centers.

Stations are designed to provide students the same information but in multiple forms; students can teach themselves as you facilitate. Having a student-centered classroom is important when you are differentiating instruction. It allows creativity, responsibility, and accountability among your student. This is the reason I love stations. My students also loved doing the stations because they were able to do the work on their own versus listening to a lecture for the entire class period, hopefully, you do not lecture the entire class period, but you get the point.

Each station focuses on a certain aspect of the lesson. These stations can be categorized as the following:

  1. Read & Comprehend: In this station, students are provided an article in relation to the topic being covered; students read an article, complete a KWL chart and complete four sentence stems summarizing what they learned from the article.
  2. Explore: In this station, student will create a model of your choice that represents the topic being covered; you can also use this a mini lab activity if you teach science. This station is intended to be used for a hands-on activity such as creating a foldable or building some type of representation that students can hold in their hands.
  3. Organize It: Students will create a graphic organizer to organize their notes that may be found in a resource provided by the teacher. Students will organize information so that it makes sense to them. Remember as the teacher you are the facilitator; you can provide them with an example of a graphic organizer, but allow them the opportunity to figure it out first. This holds students accountable for learning the information.
  4. Center Activity: Students will research and watch a short video that explains the given topic; here’s the catch, students can find any video that they chose via YouTube or any other educational platform you allow. Students must in a paragraph explain their findings and include an image that demonstrates their findings.
  5. Vocabulary: Students will use a four-square model that includes the word in the middle, definition, an example of the word, and a non-example. I had my students define key terms for the topic or lesson being given.

Stations also allow small grouping and pairing to take place; stronger students are placed with weaker students to challenge and help the other. This is great if you have higher level learners that get done with their classwork quickly; this allows them to help others when they are finished with their work.

Stations also allow active monitoring, informal assessments, self-assessment, mini-teach, and re-teach.

When I first began using stations/centers, I found an amazing packet/template created by The Science Penguin on Teachers Pay Teachers. You can have your students rotate to at least two stations during the class period; I did this so that Thursday could be our review day on what we’ve learned, and Friday would be our quiz day and the day to turn in our station packet. I made each station worth a total of 20 points. At the end of the station bundle, students had to write what they believed their grade would be and explain why and two interesting facts they learned to complete their rotations.

Breaking Down Learning Standards

img_3776
Whew!! Have you ever been so overwhelmed reading a TEK or Readiness standard, and you had no clue on where to begin?…

I was once where you are; however, I have a way to simplify your problem and bring the joy back to lesson planning.

Follow these few steps and you will be a master at breaking down learning standards and creating objectives your students will understand and grasp.
Since I started my career as a Texas Educator, I will be using Texas TEKs for example purposes.

You’ll need the following:

1. Learning Standards (Each state has a different name for their learning standards; however all educators have access to their state standards through state education website or app)

2. Year at a Glance (This is a breakdown of what unit should be covered, the learning standards included in that unit, and how long you have to cover it.)
Here’s an example of what a YAG may look like: 5th-6wk-yag-revised

The first thing you want to do is look at your year at a glance and check the time frame you have to cover a unit. This is important because it helps you organize your lessons properly.

To guide you, I’m going to use a previous unit that I taught.

Unit 07: Structure and Function of Cells (23 days for the entire unit)
LS or TEKs: 7.1A, 7.1B, 7.3A, 7.3B, 7.3C, 7.4A, 7.12C, 7.12D, 7.12F

Now out of all these learning standards, the main learning standards to cover are 7.12C, 7.12D, and 7.12F. The other learning standards are secondary standards such as lab safety, using a microscope, and etc. This will be included during the lesson planning component.
What I like to do is give each standard 5-6 days depending on complexity; some standards do not require as much time. These days allow the opportunity to review and reteach.
Here’s an example of what this looks like when I write it out:
Unit 02: Flow of Energy (13 days entire unit)
TEK 7.5A- 8.22.16-8.25.16 (4 days)
TEK 7.5C- 8.26.16-8.30 (3 days)
TEK 7.5B- 8.31-9.8.16 (6 days)
Friday weekly quizzes.
Review for Unit Test 9.9.16 and Unit Test 9.12.16.

Learning Standards can be super complex, but they do not have to be. When you do your lesson plan, it should include your learning standard and objective. The objective is your break down of that standard.
For example:
TEK 7.12F: Recognize that according to cell theory all organisms are composed of cells, and cells carry on similar functions such as extracting energy from food to sustain life.
Whew!!! There’s no way your students will get this at once so you have to decide what is important. I started with this TEK or LS because it is the foundation of the entire unit; In order for my students to become familiar with the structure and function of cells and organelles, they must understand how this came into existence.
I have underlined the important components of this standard. Now, we can break down this learning standard and form an objective.
Objective: Students will be able to describe and explain the components (parts) of the cell theory.
I underlined the words above because these are vocabulary and action verbs students must learn and understand.
This objective opens the door to your lesson and guided questions to jump start your lesson on the day you give it.
Example: Class what does it mean to describe something? When you explain something what are you doing? Does anyone know what the word component means? …What is a theory? So, what do you believe the cell theory is referring to?
KNOWING HOW TO PROPERLY BREAKDOWN AND UNPACK LEARNING STANDARDS LEADS TO A SUCCESSFUL LESSON.

Here’s a download that you can print and add to your lesson plan binder or share with a colleague: BREAKING DOWN LEARNING STANDARDS

For in depth training or 1-1 consultation, please contact me directly.

 

Plan to Execute (Lesson Planning)

Light-Bulb-PNG-Clipart
How to Successfully Plan a Lesson

I’ve always been the type to organize any information, so that it flows and makes sense.

Organization is essential in creating a successful lesson plan for your content. This is a major component if you expect your students to master the information you are delivering.

You must organize learning objectives so that it flows and makes sense to your students, and so that you do not overload yourself or students.

I’m a firm believer in writing information out first.

It’s a must that before I begin inputting lesson plans that I have a system…. with my system, I can lesson plan an entire unit, giving room for reteach if it is needed.

This system is simple and straight to the point…. There’s no magic formula…

MY HANDY DANDY TOOLS

  1. Academic Calendar
  2. Year at a Glance (includes learning standards and unit coverage time)
  3. Learning Standard (LS) Resource (printable or app)
  4. Lesson Plan Binder

1st: Know where you are on your academic calendar; also, see how many days you are allotted for that unit (refer to your year at a glance or YAG).

2nd:  Review the main learning standards for that unit; choose which (LS) will allow your unit to flow and work together to successfully cover the entire unit. This learning standard will be the introduction to your unit or the foundation of that unit.

3rd: Assign dates based on complexity of LS; Be sure to include dates for reviewing, quizzes (make this a set day), and unit test.

*ques champion song*

By the time you look up you will have successfully pre-planned an entire six weeks or nine weeks.

I have included a download of this post; please feel free to save, print, and pass on to a fellow educator.

PLAN TO EXECUTE (Lesson Planning)

For more assistance, email me or use the contact form; I will be more than blessed to help you.

Fearless Educator

I sought out to become an Independent Educational Consultant, because it is my duty and responsibility to educate beyond the classroom. I will continue to educate the minds of those who are suffering from intellectual and societal bondage, minority students and their families. We, minorities, have been taught that we must conform to the ways of the world to obtain dream jobs or abundance; been denied adequate resources, and much more. As a fearless leader and educator, it is my responsibility and purpose to expose that our minority children were created to stand out and live on/for purpose. It is my responsibility to educate other educators how to not just teach to educate, but how to teach to empower, enlighten, set free, and most importantly reach out children and their families. 

“Where opportunity does not exist, create it!”

Ms. Bracey’s Survival Guide: The Do’s and Don’ts of 1st Year Teaching

 

Top 3 Do’steacher photo

 

  • Be prepared, a first impression is definitely a lasting impression. If your students do not remember anything, they will remember their first day of school.  Make sure you have your lesson plans ready (allow flexibility), practice your welcome with a friend or relative, and know your classroom rules.

 

  • Set the tone for your classroom. The first day of school/the first week of school is where you set the tone and expectations for your classroom.  Students need routine; they will pick up on whether or not you mean business.  Don’t get this confused, you do not have to be the meanest person alive to reach your students, but you do need to be firm in your expectations, rewards, and consequences.  You will have the opportunity throughout the year to ease up on your students.

 

 

  • Give yourself room to grow! Do not worry if you cannot reach everyone on the same day at the same time; every child learns in his or her own way. Build rapport with your students.  Having a relationship with them, will be your guide on how to reach them.   Some days will be challenging, make you want to scream, BUT, there will be days that your students will teach you strengths you never knew you had.  As you are challenging their growth, they will encourage you to do the same.  Remember, what you are doing is bigger than you!! Those little faces, your “kids”, need you.

My Top 3 Don’ts

  • Do Not Worry. Some days your perfect lesson plans won’t go as planned or may not be that perfect at all; be flexible, your lesson plan should merely be a guide, not what you are depending on to get through that topic or content. Give yourself room to improvise if needed.

 

  • Do Not Stress. There are deadlines that must be met; administration will need data, parents will have questions, students will need you; however, do what you can, and do not stress about what you cannot. Keep your work life and personal life separate.  Leave what happened at school there and focus on your health and sanity.  Grab a journal, write yourself refreshing and positive notes, vent but not without a solution.

 

  • Do Not Give Up. When the challenges arise, remember you were called to be an educator; you are more than qualified, and nothing ever grows in a comfort zone. When you are uncomfortable, you are about to find new strength you did not know existed.  Walk in faith, not by sight.

If you would like a hard copy, please send me an email. Thank you!-Andrea

Adversity

6HUNpjAdversity is defined as difficulty or misfortune.

As educators, we face adversity every.single.day!

This can be challenging, but it is what we need to make us grow in love, leadership, and passion.

 

No one will ever understand the days that we want to throw in the towel, question our calling, or even go outside to our car during planning time and just cry. This year has handed more adversity in my personal teaching career than any other year, but guess what, I WILL AND HAVE REMAINED PLANTED FIRMLY IN GOOD SOIL.

My blog is titled THE EDUCATOR’S CALL. Teaching is a gift and it allows us to connect with not just young minds but all of our brother and sisters in Christ. It is not easy being in the front of so many different faces and personalities. The one thing that this school year has taught me is that anything that was designed to hinder me or cause failure has been turned around for the good and Glory of God.

It is important to maintain your strength, even on the days, you feel that you have none; someone needs you and every minute counts. It is even more important to maintain your patience on the days you want to lose your cool and give up completely, the reward is waiting for you to grab it; faith it ’til you make it. Pray like you have never done so before, believe like that is the only option that you have, and receive all the good things and feedback that you deserve.  Do not be afraid to ask for help when you are staring in the face of difficulty or misfortune.

This calling, THE EDUCATOR’S CALL, is one of the most beautiful and absolutely necessary. Our students need us; God needs us. I have been shown strength and intelligence that I never new existed, or even knew that I was capable of. The next time, you face adversity, know that it is only designed to stretch you and continue to qualify you into your purpose and calling. I see you, I hear you, and I am grateful for you.

From My Heart to Yours.

Andrea

Open Letter to Education

Open Letter To Education:

Dear Education,

I remember sitting in my sixth grade class waiting to go to the assistant principals office, not because I was in trouble, but because I used to hand out bus referrals to other students for her. I remember being able to talk to her and my teachers about anything, because I knew that they valued me beyond the classroom. I remember feeling safe, not even knowing that they were trying to make ends meet, all while being superwoman to a bunch of 11 and 12 years old. But, education, you knew there was a problem. Instead of giving them more of what you knew they deserved, you took from them.

Here I am, in the same place, as my role models and mentors once stood. Staring in the face of adversity, scrambling to stay sane, all while nurturing and trying to expand the minds of our youth, while like then, you continue to take from us. You take away authority and in return give expectations. You take away an open door, and replace it with hastiness. You take away our passion, and replace it with state standards. You maximize the curriculum, but pull from the connection.

You take away value, and call it no class management. You try and control an overcrowded classroom of students who are hungry, or haven’t been to sleep yet. You take away hope, and give regress. You take away impact, and now all you see is lack. I loved you.

But guess what, I’M TAKING YOU BACK! I don’t believe in complaining, without a solution. Here’s one: Add to the very source that made you who and what you are today. Give back what you stole from the hearts of those who have supported you, even when their paychecks had less. I am the difference, my purpose was to be the difference. How can we expect change, when we dabble in things that did not need to be fixed, but enhanced. Who are we to take away from our children?

I hope this reaches you.

Sincerely,
An Educator

Purpose Unveiled

Today,

I wanted to give up on education; I wanted to throw the towel in.  I felt weak and emotional with so many little faces staring at me; I wanted to break down.  How do I explain to my students that politics has valued their education as test scores?  How do I explain to them how politics has made it almost impossible to truly teach beyond the classroom? but then something begin to stir in my heart and in my spirit.

You are here ‘on purpose’, not by chance, not by coincidence.  You are Purpose! You are the why.  I will not stop until we take the bondage and chains that have been placed around the one thing that will make our children stronger, the one thing that can empower us. That is KNOWLEDGE.

My calling is being used for a greater purpose. I will be a light in the face of darkness. I will represent hope and not fear.  I will break those chains that have tried to keep our beautiful minds from evolving and showing the hidden truths of the world. I am an EDUCATOR. My strength is not in numbers, but comes from a source, The SOURCE, that is greater. Rise beyond defeat. God is calling us to take back what is his and rightfully our own. My purpose has been unveiled.

You are not here on accident as an educator; our passion is unmatched. Teaching is a gift, but REACHING is our masses. Use your light. I AM & I WILL.

%d bloggers like this: