Friday, August 7, 2009

Bringing it Back to the Classroom

So, I have rarely posted to journals or blogs. In fact, this is my first attempt at posting to any blog, ever. I'd like to provide you all with a final thought. I promise that, from time to time, I will post some nuggets for you to ponder. They will be in my own voice, unfiltered, without references or places to get more information. The only place you should go is back to the classroom. Reflect on what is going on within it.

The essence of Research Experiences for Teachers is to be able to bring back your experiences to your school - that is what we mean by the phrase Back in the Classroom. Let me unpack this for a minute. From day one we stressed that you begin thinking about a lesson plan that included inquiry. We, the professional development providers, tried to give you a flavor of what might be possible in your classroom. But, let us be honest, the real learning was going to happen in the laboratory, which was just a few short hours away.

Let's take this experience for what it is. Six weeks is not a very long time. [sigh] To really experience learning (a transformation), you need more time. [sense my sarcasm] I am sure that you will agree with me, you really were not able to grasp the questions with which your principal investigator and their cadre of graduate students were grappling. And, your contribution to the research was minimal. By comparison, 180 days (that are just a few short weeks away) are also not enough for your students to grasp the questions that are most fundamental to your discipline. [sense of despair] There are too many standards that need to be met and students are not even motivated or intellectually equipped to learn the most basic of these standards. [false cynicism] Most of my students will not be scientists or engineers in the future anyway. [echo] Am I right? [is anyone listening?]

Think about what just happened in the last six weeks. Ask yourself, "Did my subject-matter competence improve? Did the research stimulate my problem-solving ability? Were my abilities for critical reflection and mathematical/analytical skills honed? Isn't this what I want my students to do in my classroom?"

THAT happened in JUST SIX WEEKS!

IMAGINE what could happen if you recreated just FIVE DAYS of that experience in your classroom.

What do you think your students would get out of it?

What if you had access to lessons that would allow you to recreate this experience for the ENTIRE YEAR?

Now, what do you think your students would get out of it?

Have a great rest of the summer and good luck in the fall.

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