The Common Core English Language Arts (CCSS ELA) standards were developed to provide our kids a relevant, engaging, rigorous education. At the heart of the standards are three major shifts to the way we teach our students. This year I have been fortunate enough to have one of the bloggers on our state’s CoreLaborate blog.
I managed to write a complete series on the three shifts called for in the CCSS ELA thanks to a series of trainings I attended. I attended two trainings put together by my state’s teacher union, the Washington Education Association (WEA) and a similar training put together by Achieve the Core. I have to admit that it took me all three of those trainings before I actually started to get it because there’s so much there. I ended up writing two posts for the 1st shift, two posts for the second shift and one post for the third shift. Now I teach Science and I am working on wrapping my brain around the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and since Science includes reading, researching and writing, the CCSS ELA standards are appropriate for me too. Learning about the shifts was very helpful and I got a lot of great information and resources at the trainings that I share in my shift posts.
I’m going to link to all five shift posts here so they are in one place and easy to access (reading them in order will probably be the most helpful):
Shift 1, Regular practice with complex text and its academic language. Part 1 and Part 2
Shift 2, Reading, writing and speaking grounded in evidence from text, both literary and informational. Part 1 and Part 2
Shift 3, Building knowledge through content-rich nonfiction. Part 1
Chimacum, WA is home to a lovely lake that for a few months of the year, late spring and early summer, becomes toxic, deadly toxic! Some of my 6th graders researched our deadly lake and wrote about it. Here’s a great blog post written by one 6th grader about our deadly lake!
Yes, I admit it, I don’t teach digital citizenship. Well, not directly anyway. I do not teach direct digital citizenship lessons, I just haven’t had the need. I’ve looked into resources such as Common Sense Media and they have some great lessons. I’ve even set them aside and planned to use them. I just never saw the need based on how my students were using their edtech classroom accounts (and I have them use quite a few online resources!).
Now that’s not to say that my students don’t make mistakes or don’t stumble into sticky situations, they do. And when they do, we talk about it and learn from it. So I guess you could argue that I do teach digital citizenship, I just do it as needed. I don’t want to teach kids things they already know so I watch to see what they don’t know, and that’s what I focus on.
I’ve had students using technology in my Science classes for years, and many of those years in a 1:1 environment. I have kids blog, use discussion forums, we’ve done chats, created shared websites and google slides, use shared Google Docs, played Kahoot games, I’ve used Google Forms, different LMS, I’ve used Google Classroom, kids have made videos and uploaded them to Youtube, and I’ve even had my kids play games including multiplayer games such as World of Warcraft! My kids are online and sometimes interacting with other kids and yet I have not used any digital citizenship lessons to directly teach digital citizenship. Still, my kids have been safe and responsible users of all of the aforementioned technologies!
So am I “teaching” my students how to be safe and responsible digital citizens or am I hoping they come to me as safe and responsible citizens?? I think teaching lessons just in time as or needed still constitutes teaching. And I hope it’s more relevant since it is exactly what they need.
“”Schools that are on the chopping block because of [poor test scores] are pigeonholed into using tech just for test prep, with rows of students wearing headsets in computer labs working on remediation,” she said. “At a school I used to work at, the technology department tried to shut down the labs to create maker spaces [for hands-on building and tech experimentation], but the principal flipped out.””
Wednesday and Thursday, June 29 and 30, we got to revisit the work we started last summer with the Olympic STEM Pathways Partnership (OSPP) using sensors to collect temperature data with our students. Last year we used these Raspberry Pi-like computers called Odroids with a temperature sensor. They were clunky and difficult to work with mostly because they used quite a bit of power so couldn’t collect data for very long.
So this year the incredible UW team we worked with used mini-controllers (or some such thing – I’m not sure) to attach the temperature sensors that are much more efficient making them able to collect data for much longer periods of time.
Odroid with breadboard and battery.
Temperature Sensor System in a water proof casing!
Micro Controller system with smaller breadboard and temperature sensor wires attached.
The entire new system with battery and PVC pipe that will serve as the waterproof casing.
Here’s the new system with temperature sensor inside the water proof casing.
The micro controller runs the programming language Python, actually a smaller version of Python with fewer libraries called micro Python so we got to do a little programming! Wednesday evening we tested our sensors. We put them in Portage Bay, near the UW’s Oceanography building (one of them) at 47.65N and -122.31W. It was a gorgeous sunny, clear day. We got them into the water at about 4:30pm on the 29th in a comfortable 69 degree day.
Here’s how we got our sensors into the water:
Since we had many sensors, we used a rope with zip ties and tape to attach the casings and the senors. A weight at the bottom of the rope ensured the sensors would be in the water at depth.
Getting the sensor systems on the rope.
We decided to double up so we attached two sensors at each depth, 2.5m in the water, 1.5m, .5m in the water and .5m above the surface of the water.
Almost ready to deploy the sensors in the bay!
Sensors set and ready to be left overnight.
Scientific diagram of the sensor placement that I made using Google Drawings.
By 10:30am on Thursday, June 30, we retrieved our sensors and checked to see if they worked properly and recorded data. Mine worked and I got data! I had the interval set to collect temp every 20 seconds so I ended up with 3,512 data points! Here’s a graph comparing the built-in micro-controller temp sensor that was 2.5m above the water in the black waterproof PVC pipe casing and the external temp sensor at .5m under the water (click here to see copies of the graphs on a Google Doc):
The graph shows the temp rise abruptly as we attached the sensors the rope on the asphalt at the beginning as well as the dip in temp as we took the sensor out of the water and evaporation took place! In between we see the temp changing as the sun set and night took over.
We were actually incredibly fortunate that we put two sensors at each depth because amazingly enough only one of the two sensors managed to collect data at each and every depth! What are the odds of that?? So what you see below is a graph comparing all four external temp sensors (click here to see copies of the graphs on a Google Doc):
The green line shows the temp change for the sensor that was .5m above the surface of the water. The yellow, red, and blue lines show the sensors that were .5m, 1.5m, and 2.5m under the water. This is cool stuff and I can’t wait to use these tools with my 6th graders next spring!
Here’s me zooming into the data to see how the temperature in the water changed at the different depths of .5m, 1.5m, and 2.5m:
Here’s a closer look at the temp data at the different depths.
Any ideas for me to think about in using this data collection tool or in having students analyze data? Please leave a comment. 🙂
Last year I joined the Olympic STEM Pathways Partnership (OSPP) and got to do some great work as part of that partnership working with some great professors and Math and Science educators from all over our region. So far this summer I’ve been in Seattle (about two hours from where I live in Chimacum, depending on traffic) near the University of Washington (UW) working with the wonderful professors and educators of the OSPP. Tuesday June 28 we got to work with a couple of UW Earth and Space Sciences professors who are part of the Northwest Earth and Space Science Pipeline (NESSP). The NESSP (that link goes to their Facebook page), “aims to create a model network that can serve as a physical NASA educational presence in states without NASA centers and act as a bridge into other NASA experiences for teachers and students, and eventually into careers in STEM fields.”
We had quite a fun day! I’ve personally never really worked with rockets or even bottle rockets so when they said we were going to launch rockets I was excited. My team made a bottle rocket that we named Hermes. We wanted to see how different amounts of fuel, water in this case, affected how high our rocket went. We started with the 2L bottle half full of water, then tried it with only a quarter filled with water, then three quarters full. It was so sunny, which we ONLY get during the summer here, so it was difficult to see how high our rocket went but I recorded the event so you can see how long it took Hermes to come back to Earth each time:
We discussed how this could fit into our curricula and to which NGSS standards an activity like this could apply. I’ve been using the STC/MS kit Energy, Machines, and Motion and part of the learning my students do is about energy and forces and eventually motion. Those three concepts apply pretty nicely to launching bottle rockets!
So here’s what am thinking, and this is so preliminary and rough because I don’t know if I’ll have time or any resources to be able to do this. Plus I would need to check with other teachers in my district to make sure I’m not stepping on any toes by deciding to have kids launch bottle rockets. Even if I don’t end up doing this activity the process of designing a learning progression is a good one.
The middle school NGSS standard, MS-PS2 – Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions – fits really well with bottle rockets! Kids could work on the 1st Performance Expectation or PE on Newton’s Third Law, the 4th PE on gravitational force, or even the 5th PE on forces interacting without touching. I chose to go with the 2nd PE, “Plan an investigation to provide evidence that the change in an object’s motion depends on the sum of the forces on the object and the mass of the object.”
Now I’m still a novice at unpacking these NGSS standards. There’s so much even with one single performance expectation (PE)! Within the MS-PS2-2 PE students will be dealing with the following:
“Emphasis is on balanced (Newton’s First Law) and unbalanced forces in a system, qualitative comparisons of forces, mass and changes in motion (Newton’s Second Law), frame of reference, and specification of units.”
“Assessment is limited to forces and changes in motion in one-dimension in an inertial reference frame and to change in one variable at a time. Assessment does not include the use of trigonometry.”
Each PE also has the following three, interwoven dimensions (this is what they are referring to when they mention the three dimensions of NGSS):
Science and Engineering Practices (SEP): Planning and Carrying Out Investigations
Crosscutting Concepts (CCC): Stability and Change
Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI): PS2.A: Forces and Motion
Each dimension comes with ample explanation and detail to help a teacher target all parts of each standard including evidence statements that teachers can use to generate rubrics. I am finding all of that pretty daunting and time consuming so it’s taking me quite some time to wrap my brain around it all.
I’m thinking the big idea with the bottle rockets is unbalanced forces but I’m not sure. For success criteria I want students to be able to identify the forces acting on a water bottle rocket to get up it into the air and back down again.