Teach it Tuesday: New Curriculum & Science

Disclaimer to our out of province and international readers:  Our curriculum here in BC has been undergoing a massive change throughout the last few years.  While utilizing the new curriculum is not mandatory yet, many teachers here in BC are starting to implement various aspects of it into their teaching.

Back in September, when I was still on maternity leave, I knew I’d be teaching grade 8 science again this year so I went to a Pro D session offering ideas on how to integrate some new curriculum concepts and competencies into science lessons.  I thought, “Great! Perfect! I already worked so hard at making all my grade 8 science stuff last year, so I’ll just reuse it all”.  I thought I’d be able to add in some new curriculum based ideas and be done with it.  It’s now February 2016 and guess how much of that stuff I’ve reused?

Precisely NONE of it.  Absolutely nothing. Nichts.

But this is not a bad thing, you guys.  I know it sounds like a lot of wasted effort and time, but it’s not.  Trust me.  One day I will use those resources I created again, but this year just isn’t the right timing.  This year, instead of reusing my old stuff, I’ve discovered something even more resourceful and brilliant…tapping in to my local community of experts. More specifically, I replied to an email from Green Team BC back in September and together with the coordinators, Amanda and Jenny, whipped up a hands on, outdoors science/ecology education program for my class (and a few others classes in our school joined in as well!)

My grade 8 students have been working in our direct community at a park up the road from our school.  Once a month we work with shovels, clippers, gloves and tarps in the park to remove invasive ivy and plant native species in the designated garden area.  So far we have completed two “field study” sessions and we have two more scheduled before spring break in March.

Jenny, our community leader, visits our class the morning of our field study days and does a short lecture with the students.  Recently Jenny shared with us some of the work she’s been doing with the the native plant species directly in our community and that sparked a whole conversation on seeking the indigenous names for the various native plants in the garden.

What I love most about this project is how it lends my students the opportunity to do some intense place based learning.  The park we are working in is an area that many of my students access every single day.  Since we engaged in our first field session in November, my class is starting to see the park in a new way; the students are leaving a legacy in the place they play and learn.

I encourage all educators who may be struggling with the new curriculum to open your minds to creative opportunities and connections your direct school community might have available.  I am proud to say we aren’t even touching the resources I worked so hard to create two years ago…this work we are doing is much more deep and connected to our space and place.

I am really proud of how professionally my students handled their 15 minutes of fame! Read more about what my grade 8s have been up to in science this year HERE.

Karley

 

 

 

 

My Three Week Mission

So… I got a job! It’s just for three weeks but it’s full time and I’ll be teaching grade 8 so I’m very excited about this start to the year!! I will be teaching Math, Science and PE for the three weeks to two different classes. It basically feels like a practicum again planning for such a specific time frame (but without the stress of having all those supervisions!)

Now I’m feeling very lucky to have this position (pretty rare after only a year in out district) and don’t get me wrong – I am so very grateful for everything I have and by no means am I complaining here…

Here’s my teeny tiny issue: I really don’t like teaching science! I absolutely love teaching Math, English, French, Social Studies, PE, Drama… You name it! I will happily teach a day of music even though I’m not musical! Art? Sure, anytime! But there is something about science that just rubs me the wrong way.

It doesn’t make sense either. I absolutely loved science when I was in school and most of my favourite high school teachers were science teachers! In grade 11, I was seriously considering going to university to do a double major in biology and chemistry – loved it! So what don’t I like about teaching it? I really don’t know! I have some fun lessons that I’ve done on practicum, a decent university methods course in science, lots of resources… everything I need to love it but I just don’t!

So I’ve made it my mission that by the end of these three weeks I’m going to enjoy teaching science! Maybe I won’t love it. It probably won’t become my favourite subject to teach. But I am very determined that I won’t dread it anymore!

And this is where it will start…

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My Organized Mess of Resources…

I’m digging through my boxes for ideas and inspiration because I know if I feel inspired to teach it will help students feel inspired to learn! Grade 8 Science? I’m ready for you! With an open mind and creative juices ready to start flowing…

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Getting science ready for our new contracts!

What better way to get excited about Science then prepping with a good friend? Karley and I got a good start on some fantastic unit planning today and I’m feeling better than I expected to start teaching science!

And my final way I’ve tried to get excited about this is by pooling awesome resources from people around me. I’ve found ways to turn my science unit into a creative project with lots of room for critical thinking! Turning science into something that I am excited to teach will take some effort but it is effort that I’m willing and ready to put in and I think (I hope!) that’s what counts in this situation.

How do you get excited about teaching subjects that aren’t your favourite?

Any great science ideas or resources for me?

Meaghan