Professionalism and Wisdom

As a new student teacher in the MAT program, I looked around to find some help with ideas in the classes that I teach in. One place that I found some inspiration that I could use is a facebook group for high school art teachers. In it, there are a couple thousand members from all over the world that give advice and tips on art projects and classroom management. It is also a place that one could post a question and get great feedback from some experienced teachers. So far it has been great. I plan to try some of the ideas and later in the future I will give back some tips that I develop in my classroom.

In addition, staying in touch with others in the teaching field and same discipline just makes sense. The more one can collaborate with the wisdom of the masters, and stay up to date with any new ideas and development, the better our students will benefit.

Blog # 4

What are the requirements and guidelines for curriculum and assessment in your school? How does your host teacher address district goals and mandates?   How does this relate to teacher evaluation?

Curriculum for science classes follows the relevant standards.  Curriculum, standards and assessment join together to help the teacher provide the best learning experiences for students. My host teacher assesses students’ progress on the curriculum content that is presented to them. The information teachers gather about student’s progress helps determine how to design the classroom, the kinds of experiences, and the content that will help students learn new skills. I noticed that regular (or ongoing) assessment gives me the information I need for lesson planning and helps me create stimulating learning environments for all my students. At Petersburg High School assessment is encouraged to be varied and include formative assessment although specific assessment mandates are in place mostly for reading and math.  Teacher evaluation includes a section on assessment, but actual observations are limited, so mostly only formative assessments are included.

Blog Post #5: Authentic Assessment

Assessments that are authentic do not limit students. Students are able to apply what they have learned to a new situation, by using thinking skills to determine what information is useful from what they have learned. Authentic assessments should allow opportunities to research, practice, and get feedback on the product.

An example of authentic assessment in my host teacher’s classroom is the Science Project that students need to complete by the end of the first semester. Students select a subject that is related to science that interests them like the Accuracy of the volleyball serve, Effect of music on the swimming speed, UV light and the effects of sleep, to Roller Derby techniques. Students are given all the necessary tools for resources in the digital library, and they get constant feedback from my host teacher and the high school English Teacher. Students receive an outline with the requirements for each section of the project.


  1.      Must be a true research project with a control.
  2.      Project must be approved by the instructor.
  3.     Must be done as a single document which is capable of turning into a pdf file for a web site.

Outline of Requirements

  1. Title page: Which includes your name, Project name, and class period
  2. Introduction: (Research Essay) minimum four double spaced pages with all margins no  greater than 1 inch.

        a) The introduction is a Research Essay based on your library research.  The purpose of the research is to insure that you have enough knowledge of your project idea to conduct an experiment and make a valid hypothesis.  The Research essay must be well organized and include parenthetical citations.

b)     It will be followed by a third page which is a works cited page. The Work Cited page will contain at least 5 different sources.  No more than 1 of the original 5 can be an encyclopedia and the remainder must be authentic, and reliable resources.

c)      Electronic note cards.  There will be 5 electronic note cards that are filled out and have been used in the introduction.  They must be associated with the cited page.

                    We will follow the MLA method of citing your sources. The example of a correctly written work cited page is located in the library and from the English teacher .

3.   Problem:  on one page

 The problem will be one or two sentences starting with the phrase “The problem that I am trying to solve is……..” You need to be very specific it needs to be supported by your experiment. Then, also, you need to include why this is an important question to you.

4.    Hypothesis:  on one page

 You will attempt to determine what will occur before you begin to experiment.  Include on this page the documented support, from research, reasons you believe that your predicted answer will be the outcome of your project

5.    Material : A list of all materials used by you during the actual experiment.

6.    Procedure:  one or more pages

a) The procedure will be a complete step by step set of instructions describing every step you took when actually testing your problem.

b) Multiple trials are necessary, your procedure would then read “repeat steps x-y, z times”

7.    Data pages

        a) You will need to tabulate your observations as often necessary.  This organized record of observations must be included in the project write up.

        b) At least 3 Sections of your data must also be presented in a pictorial demonstrations, be used when designing your Conclusion.

8.    Conclusion:  One page single spaced

      In your own words you will need to answer the following questions in complete well thought out answers paragraphs.

a)  Was your hypothesis completely correct, partially correct or incorrect?  You will need to include your actual data to support the analysis of your hypothesis.

b)  What would I do different?  What new variables, or new methods to collect data, or how could I better control my variables.If I redo this experiment, why would these choices improve my project?

c)  What new ideas (serendipitous observations) did I learn from performing this experiment?

                  d)  What did you like about this experiment

                  e)  What type of surprises did the experiment have as you did it? Why were you not able to predict these occurrences?

                  f) How can this experiment be used in a real world application?

Blog Post #5 Authentic Assessment

Assessments have long been thought of as pencil and paper tests. Students learn about a topic, do some practice on worksheets, then get tested with questions on a paper. Nowadays, the educational community is realizing that this has very little to do with how students will use this information in real life. Recently, what we as teachers are trying to do with assessment, is to simulate a real life experience that uses the information that will be studied during the unit. We are designing this piece of authentic assessment prior to teaching the unit, that way teachers and students have a clear picture of what the end goal is. When students have a clear goal in mind, everything they are doing in class has a purpose, and when students have a purpose, they are more motivated to learn.

These authentic assessments are a more valid representation of student knowledge because it requires students to take the information they learned and apply it to a different, but similar situation. It is very rare that students will find , for example, the exact situation described in a mathematical word problem outside of the classroom. Instead, what they find may be a similar situation, but have different known values, or different variables. If students can reach this type of higher level thinking while in the classroom, they will take those problem solving skills with them outside of school.

My host teacher uses mostly project based assessments in his science classes. This way, students are taken away from the rote memorization and instead are more focused on how these different aspects are intertwined. In his math classes, assessments are still pencil and paper based, although many real life problem situations are presented on the test. With my unit plan (and from now on) I am trying to formulate even more authentic assessments to supplement these paper based tests.

Blog Post #3 Backward Design-Structure of the Atom

In my Chemistry classes I will be teaching the Structure of the Atom, that will cover the events that led to the discovery of the electron, Rutherford’s experiment that led to the discovery of the nucleus, properties of protons, electrons and neutrons, isotopes, atomic number and mass number.


Established goals:

Students will be able to define an atom, describe the properties of protons, neutrons and electrons. Using the periodic table students will be able to find the atomic number and mass number of different elements.

My lesson connects to Alaska Standards: B1:The student demonstrates an understanding of the structure and properties of matter by [10] SB1.1 using the periodic table to describe atoms in terms of their base components (i.e., protons, neutrons, electrons).

My lesson also connects to New Generation Science Standards: HS-PS1-1. Use the periodic table as a model to predict the relative properties of elements based on the patterns of electrons in the outermost energy level of atoms.PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter Each atom has a charged substructure consisting of a nucleus, which is made of protons and neutrons,surrounded by electrons. (HS-PS1-1)

The essential questions for this lesson will be:

  • How did the concept of the atom changed over time?
  • How are atoms of one element different from atoms of another element?

Students will know what an atom is, describe the properties of protons, neutrons, and electrons.

Students will acquire the following skills: using the periodic table students will be able to find the atomic number and mass of different elements.

Common misconceptions:

  • Students may think that the identity of the atom is determined by the number of electrons and neutrons, which is not true. The identity of an atom is determined by the number of protons. The number of electrons and neutrons can vary and the atom will still be the same element. But if the number of protons changes, then the atom becomes an atom of a different element.


  • I will use an activity called Kahoot! To connect to student’s prior knowledge of the atom from middle school and high school.
  • Students will do worksheets and actively participate in the classroom discussions.   

Learning activities:

  • I would start my lesson showing to the students two different shapes made from identical pieces of a toy construction set. I will demonstrate how even though the two shapes look different, the characteristics of the various parts that compose them are the same. This is true with the atom. Though atoms of different elements display different properties, isolated subatomic particles have the same properties, regardless of their source.
  • To build the reading skills I would write the following on the whiteboard:
    • An atom cannot be broken down into smaller parts
    • An atom is the same throughout
    • An atom is made up of several different, smaller parts

I will then ask the students their opinions about the statements, have them discuss their opinion and try to justify their answer( this will give students the opportunity to explore the topic).

  • To reach all learning styles, I would ask students to draw an atom and its parts. Using the Periodic Table I would ask them to find the number of protons, electrons, neutrons, and the mass number of a certain element.

Blog Post #2 Life Doesn’t Happen in Wholes

Blog Post #2: Research the GLE’s (Grade Level Expectations) and Alaska State Student Standards for content and performance for your discipline. What are you teaching at the moment that might be considered a big idea? Why is it a big idea? Anything that might be considered “worth being familiar with” or “Important to know and do?”

In my 6th grade math class we are entering into a unit on fractions. WE are starting out by reviewing part to whole relationships (Big Idea: Fractions can represent part of a whole), then redefined the whole (Big Idea: Fractions can represent more than one), and have just covered benchmark fractions (Big Idea: Knowing what benchmark a fraction is close to can help evaluate expressions that use fractions), and are now moving onto equivalent fractions (Big Idea: Equivalent fractions represent the same amount using different sized parts). These are important big ideas because life does not happen in wholes and it is important to learn how to deal with parts of objects or concepts. These are very important skills and concepts for students to understand, as fractions are carried through the rest of their mathematical career and carried over into many other subjects as well. We are spending a good amount of time making sure our students are very comfortable with these concepts and exploring them from many different modalities in order to reach all students.