After two weeks in a field geology class, one week at the Peabody Essex Museum Teacher Institute, and two days at a “Science Writing & The Common Core” seminar, I am now turning my attention to preparing for the upcoming 2014-2105 Academic Year. This has several pieces: getting to know my new students; setting expectations and teaching classroom routines; and developing a Scope and Sequence for both Mathematics and Science.
I have developed a full year of Science units in the wake of last year’s Curriculum Realignment. The field geology course has yielded at least one Unit Plan, with several lesson plans, that maps right on top of the 6th Grade’s commitment to adopt Grace Oliver and Gas House Beaches in Marblehead. This will also throw off two lessons for the All-School visit to Children’s Island during the first week of school. Cells and Biological Evolution will take up the first semester; Chemistry, Physics, and Astronomy will engage us over the Winter, not coincidentally an excellent time of year for star-gazing; and Geology and Engineering will fill out the year in the Spring.
I have a Unit Plan for the Structure and Function of Cells that is tightly integrated with the Art Department and will involve a Class Trip to the Peabody Essex Museum and the participation of the Museum Staff. We will also be integrating an understanding of the Nature of Science (Abd-El-Khalick, F., and N.G. Lederman, 2000), starting the first few classes with a lesson from the NSTA: “Teaching the Nature of Science Through the Concept of Living” (Byoung-Sug Kim and Mary McKinney, November 2007)
I have rearranged the unit sequence in my Everyday Math program to fit a specific Scope and Sequence that starts the year with Proportional Reasoning, then moves to Number Sense and Algebraic concepts, finishing with Statistics and Geometry. Once again, we will be using the Khan Protocol, which creates an individual plan for each student on Khan Academy and then requires the successful completion of five or ten correct in a row on two specific exercises over the course of a week. This was very successful last year, not only because it is so easy to monitor and calibrate, but also because it gives the kids choice and flexibility in approaching this assignment. We will also be working an assigned, multi-step word problem each week, using this pattern to investigate how to manage word problems in general and several specific strategies for solving them.
Every year gets better. I get better. Materials get better. Unit plans and the lessons inside them get refined and improved. It’s no overstatement that I titled this post: “#BestYearEver”. See you on the field!