Pseudo Day 130 – Eye Dissection

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Science 8 – June 15

Our last week of classes was kind of weird. We had double blocks of each class and even though attendance was not optional, in reality it was.  Not many of my students showed up this week other than my grade 8 students.  This schedule worked out very well for us because 2 hours was a very comfortable time for doing an eye dissection.

I visited some other classes in May that did the eye dissection during regular class time and it seemed a bit rushed.  They would do a prep worksheet one day and then the dissection the next day.  Having everyone do everything in one long class made the whole process smoother, from what I could tell.

Pseudo Day 129 – Year End Review

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Science 9 – June 12

Some examples of a year-end review assignment.  This was a pretty big success for me and the students.  Leading up to this assignment I had struggled with what to do with the students for a culminating summative assessment.  You can read a bit about my options on whether or not to do a final exam on my Physicsoflearning blog.  I decided not to do a final exam.  I had told the class that there would be one, but because the students didn’t have textbooks, with 2 days I had 5 books taken from my classroom.  So not only was this unfair to other students, but it signified the level of anxiety around the exam. And I didn’t want to lose 1/2 dozen textbooks because of an exam.

A culminating project wasn’t going to work.  I didn’t want to lay out a huge homework project for the kids and there were virtually no resources at the school since everything was being packed up for our school move.

What I decided was to have the students produce a review package for the year.  I figure that if we expect students to study for a final exam they should first be taught how to study for an exam.

I wasn’t sure how well this would go.  I predicted that many kids would dismiss the assignment with the logic that there is no reason to prep for an exam if they’re not doing the exam.  So when kids said they shouldn’t have to do the assignment if there is no exam, I had my answer ready. I proposed that I could also give them an exam.  After giving it approximately 2 seconds of thought, the kids decided that the assignment by itself was ok.

What I didn’t quite expect was how many students worked really hard on their packages and did top-quality work.  I also didn’t anticipate having as many students tell me just how good they thought the whole process was.  Maybe I’m looking at this through slightly rose tinted glasses – maybe lots of students thought it was the dumbest thing ever.  Whatever. I know it was a worthwhile activity.   One thing that I think surprised students is just how much time it takes to do a proper review.  Many kids thought that that “studying” for 2 hours would be good enough, but what they found was that each unit of review took up to an hour (sometimes more, sometimes less).

The review package was straight forward.  First, the students re-checked all of their learning objectives so they were clear on what they were expected to know, and where they were at with their learning. Next, they were advised to first focus on their two worst units. {I wasn’t guiding them on optimizing test taking strategies, I was advising them on maximizing their learning.  I actually don’t know if their is some type of most efficient strategy on prepping for a final exam.  Should a person focus on what they do best, to maximize the marks they can get on the stuff they know the most?  I don’t know…}.  Finally, they got to choose what kind of format they would like to use for their review.  The three most common types of review packages were notes in point form, flash cards, and concept maps.

Below is a link to the review instructions I gave out:

Science 9 Year End Review

Pseudo Day 128 – Stress? No Stress


Science 8 – May 26

So there is something VERY SIGNIFICANT happening in this photo.  No, it’s not the obvious stress being experienced by the two young men in front that are holding their heads.  If you look at the back of the room, there a few guys packing up stuff from my cabinets.  I’m now deep into packing up and clearing my room prior to our move to the new school next fall.  If the kids think they have a lot of school work, it’s nothing compared to the job of clearing up a room with 50 years of crap stashed in it (yes, I’m finding things from the 1960’s).

As for the kids, I can’t remember what was on this quiz (it’s not a *test*), but I know that it couldn’t possibly be that hard.

Pseudo Day 124 – Stars

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Science 9 – May 21

Today the students were supposed to learn about different types of stars and I had planned for them to learn about the Hertzsprugn-Russel diagram.  Most kids were content to methodically work through the sketch activity and I was ok with that.  The grade 9 students are in their “calming down” phase that I’ve seen happen after April.  They are getting more mature and becoming better students.  It’s a welcomed relief.

Pseudo Day 123 – Water


Science 8 – May 21

This was our last topic to study for the year: Water.  I enjoy teaching this unit but the students are starting to wind down for the year.  I introduce this topic by presenting this graphic while the students work on a KWL chart: What do you Know about water?  What do you Want to learn about water?  What have you Learned about water?

One of my classes have finished their work for social studies for the year and their teacher has them working through some things on water.  They’re doing stuff that is very similar to what we are learning in science.  There’s some duplication but the students don’t seem to mind.  I think they are enjoying be able to answer questions with more confidence.

Pseudo Day 122 – Natural Fluid Systems

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Science 8 – May 14

Students learned about fluid systems today, both constructed and natural.  I had the kids work in groups and create GIST summaries.  For gist summaries I usually have the kids summarize a paragraph or short section of text using exactly 20 words.  The idea is that it forces the kids to pick out the really important parts of the text and be clear on definitions and context.