The Sort-of-Scientific Method

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Dec 12 2012

When Kids Are Excited, I’m Excited

Day 65: Two very different lessons, two very different yet equally awesome occurrences in Science land today.

Two of my classes got their unit tests back today, and I was reminded yet again how powerful data can be for my kids. I know that sounds quite TFAish, but hey, it’s true. When I showed my classes that they beat the big goal of 85 percent, they were excited. But when I showed them that they beat 8th graders state-wide on the four MCAS questions I snuck into the unit test, they went crazy. My slide with Muhammad Ali standing over Sonny Liston, with the text stating my kids had knocked out Massachusetts 8th graders, might have helped.

One of my classes didn’t even realize at first that I was talking about state-wide 8th graders, and not just the students who preceded them two years earlier. Before my eyes, here were my kids actually cheering in response to their performance on a test. I know that when the next unit test rolls around, my kids will remember just how good it felt to stick it to the big kids.

The other two classes began preparing for a Socratic Seminar. This is interesting because, to put it bluntly, I have zero clue how to run a Socratic Seminar. I went to one mediocre PD this weekend, but hey, science is about experimenting, right? Specifically, the plan was to give my kids a text that would help them discuss what it meant to be alive.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but when I put on my best excited face – despite the head cold – and announced that today was our first day of life science, my kids cheered! This was, I convinced myself, a good omen. Later in class, my kids got more engaged by the text than anything I’d attempted in class for a few weeks. My kids were actively talking about when the character was no longer alive – was it when he no longer had a human heart, or when he no longer needed his brain? This doesn’t change the fact that I still have no idea how the discussion will go on Thursday, but if the prep today is any indication, my kids will be pretty into the discussion.

After all that detail, I’ll come back to one happy truth: When kids are excited, I get excited.

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Experimental Procedures of a Second-Year Teacher

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