DAY 43 – Disease Project


Science 8 – Today the class began a research project on an infectious disease. The hope is that with some understanding of the ideas and keywords around the immune system, students can do some intelligent research on diseases and how they interact with humans.


Day 35 – Make Just One Change


Science 8 – The title of this post is taken from the book of the same name by Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana.  The thesis of the book is

formulating one’s own questions is “the single most essential skill for learning”—and one that should be taught to all students.

In the old (current) science 8 curriculum, students learn about body systems and the immune system.  In the new curriculum the focus is shifted to only the immune system.  This is a perfect example of how the new curriculum is improved and better matches the needs of today’s students.  It is less important to acquire basic knowledge of organs and their function and more important and relevant to analyze how the immune system works, how it interacts with microbes, and how it relates to vaccinations, pandemics and epidemics.

So we’re going the new curriculum on this one!

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 117 – Qfocus Day 2

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Science 9 – May 6

Today each group finished coming up with 3 high priority questions that relate to our Qfocus.  Many groups came up with questions that were right on target and approachable.


Some questions were really difficult, such as “What came before time?”


Some groups were off-track as seen above. I didn’t step in to change their questions though, as I wanted to validate what they were genuinely interested. Next year I won’t let this happen though, I will take tighter control over what their final questions are.  I made this decision after hearing a quote from Grant Wiggins, where he said that we make no apologies for setting the learning objectives.

This process was interesting and a bit worthwhile. However, the students were able to answer their questions within a couple days of work and we were still left to go over many more learning objectives in the unit.  This is a perfect example of me needing to share a methodology with other teachers doing something similar yet I still feel like I’m working in a bit of a silo.  This stuff is really difficult to do when you have no one else to share ideas with.

Pseudo Day 116 – First Day of QFocus


Science 9 – May 4

As we began a new unit on Space, I thought I would try to kick the inquiry up a notch by incorporating some tools that I read about in Make Just One Change by Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana.  In this picture you see the students grouping together and discussing some new questions they have about Space.  The QFocus point that I gave them was:

The Universe and its galaxies were formed over 13.4 billion years ago

Yes, I know the Big Bang is thought to have occurred 13.7 billion years ago but the above 13.4 also includes formation of galaxies.


I also had the help of a co-worker who used his 3D printer to make a capacitor holder that I designed.  The idea is to use this to hold capacitors that I have soldered back-to-back. I may make a whole classroom set to use in the electricity unit.

Pseudo Day 110 – Inquiry into Floatation

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Science 8 – April 22

We are now working through a unit on fluids.  To start things off, we are focusing on the idea that some things float while others don’t.  Question Focus: Not everything floats.  This leads to questions such as:

  • do heavier things float?
  • what is mass?
  • what is density?
  • do more dense things float?
  • does it matter what the thing is floating in?

Day 70: Inquiry into Friction

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Physics 11 – We used most of the class to look a how friction could be modeled on the microscopic level, and the factors that affect friction.  The first class brainstormed possible factors that affect friction and then broke into groups to investigate a factor.  However, a few groups had a difficult time clearly identify friction force as the dependent variable, and a variable that they could directly measure.

I had the second class work through a more structured approach to designing their experiments, where the dependent variable was more explicitly stated and recognized as being something that could be measured. We used the Smarter Science framework to assist with this.  We didn’t have time to carry out the experiments, so that will be done the next day.