Recall that last summer, almost at the exact same time, this space recounted that the editor had been very remiss in preparing the June 2000 editorial. As you may recall, this carelessness or slackness, was attributed to the overwhelming, and at times, somewhat delirious effects of summer time on the editor. Depending on your bent on the subject, this remission, if you will, could be counted as being both good and bad.
Good in respect to taking the steps required to position yourself for actually enjoying summer time, e.g., traveling, writing, teaching a new course, plain, old-fashion resting, etc. Bad in respect as to not even taking care of one specific thing listed in the June 2000 editorial -- "and cleaning one's office."
Summer time, in all her wisdom, has struck once again. There are absolutely no excuses for this lackluster editorial in June 2001. I admit it; summer time has me under her spell once again. This is not to say, however, that I have been doing all of what was previously mentioned in the "good" aspects of summer time, albeit some traveling offering professional development workshops for teachers. I have witnessed a few things, over the past few months, that have excited and refreshed me with respect to science education (perhaps, this editorial is not totally lack luster?).
* Winnfield Parish School District, Winnfield, Louisanna
Dave Crowther, myself, and other colleagues will be doing a professional development workshop for Winnfield teachers in late July. As per the superintendent, "we want to learn about learning cycles." Just when you think everyone knows about and uses learning cycles, there appears another group who doesn't. We're always glad to keep spreading the word.
* Hyde Park Math and Science Academy, Las Vegas, Nevada
We were recently in Las Vegas doing more professional development activities for Clark County School District's Summer Science Institute. Hyde Park is a middle level math and science magnet school. You know when you've reached the science wing because painted on the hallway wall, it reads, "Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, Evaluate." Bybee's 5E's act as a constant reminder to both teachers and students about how science should be taught. In addition, the lesson plans required by the CCSD to be turned in at the end of the institute were predominately submitted in the 5E format...go figure.
* Ann M. L. Cavallo's recent publication in 'Science and Children'(V38, N2, 2001) magazine
Congrats to Dr. Cavallo upon her publication entitled Convection Connections again promoting the learning cycle in practice. As she states, "Although the following activities aren't new, they are uniquely presented within the context of the learning cycle" (p. 20). My wish is that someday the teaching community regards learning cycles as something far less than unique and rather more like the status quo for science instruction at all levels.
* Rereading 'Discovery or Invention?' (The Science Teacher, September, 1962) by Atkin and Karplus
Something that I try to do each mid to late summer or early fall is reread seminal (at least in my thinking) articles in preparation for returning to the classroom and the never ending task of trying to make a difference in the lives of the public school teachers I work with each year. It always comforts me to know that that my crazy thoughts about how elementary science should be taught are based in a long standing discussion in the literature. As the authors state:
For those of you who haven't read this piece in its entirety, or in the past few years, take a break and head over to the library some afternoon...get back in the stacks and enjoy a great read. Oh, and on your way home, rent a copy of the video Dead Poet's Society for after dinner.
The pedagogical point to be stressed in the conclusion is that this type of teaching [pre-learning cycle] appears to be strongly motivating and rewarding. Yet, the teaching seems also to be reasonably efficient even when compared with a more verbal expository approach. The pupils come to the point where they know they will discover something, and they know what their discovery will mean (p.51).
Thanks for reading here and your continued support of the EJSE. I hope this brief commentary has refreshed your thinking about learning cycles...it has mine. Please...suffer a bit from the spells of summer time...don't let it pass you by. It's not passing me by...I have to mow the lawn.
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