The first week back always brings a mixed amount of emotions for the students. Some wish the holidays could have kept on going for weeks on end. Most are happy to return and for a variety of reasons. School can be a social outlet with friends, sports and academic support. To some though it can be a break from home and a refuge. I am happy to be back into the routine as both a classroom teacher and a graduate student myself.
Today I had 11 teachers come into my grade 9 applied science class and then over to my grade 11 chemistry class. It was a great experience to showcase some of the work I have been doing and also to talk to educators for feedback. We used the class set of netbooks to look at some great simulations (http://phet.colorado.edu), YouTube videos and news articles. The grade 9’s looked at solar systems and used online animations to explore the planets as well as test their skills at making a functioning orbiting system themselves. The grade 11’s discussed greenhouse gas emissions and the tar sands (oil sands) are represented in the media. We then did a virtual lab on gas laws and graphed the results in Excel. The teachers that visited checked out my class site (http://sites.google.com/site/scienceatcedarbrae) and really enjoyed the engagement of the students.
I love the blended learning environment I have established in my classroom with all the different aspects coming together. This semester I felt I have moved into not just using technology and showing other peoples work but had the students actively participating and using technology to create information (wikis and YouTube). True learning takes place when the students are using critical thinking, prior knowledge and creativity to share their own generated information.