Category Archives: science

Teaching Everything Using the Scientific Method

Mmkay. So, I had this epiphany (it’s like the last thing I wrote) a few weeks ago about how pretty much everything is learned through the Scientific Method:

  1. Background Information/Observation,
  2. Hypothesis,
  3. Design and Conduct the Experiment,
  4. Evaluate the Data,
  5. Draw a Conclusion

In other words, think up a question (Why is the sky blue? What year was the Declaration of Independence signed?), offer a hypothesis (Because it is. 1776.), Design and Conduct the Experiment (I will look in my textbook(s)), Evaluate the data (do I agree with my textbook? Can I verify this information using another source?), and Draw a conclusion (The sky is blue due to the angle of sunlight hitting water molecules in the atmosphere, 1776 because I saw a real copy of the Declaration in the UVA library).

I wish I had realized this earlier while I was reading through the Language Acquisition and Reading (Creating Literacy Instruction; Pearson 2016) textbook. Even though they have used various different terms, pretty much every strategy for teachers to use has boiled down to the Scientific Method as described above.

Here’s the latest example:

Mini-lessons used as a part of a Reading Workshop for lessons using Independent Reading. These mini-lessons have 5 basic parts (I have block quoted them to make them easier to read, but the analysis is mine alone):

1. Connection (Background information and Hypothesis)

2/3. Teaching and Active Involvement (Conducting the Experiment)

4. Link (Evaluate)

5. Follow up (Conclusion)

I have to create 3 different lesson plans for the class, due Dec. 3rd. My hope is to have them comply with my theory of universally utilizing the Scientific Method, but honestly my first goal will be ensuring that they meet any and all requirements that my professor has for the assignment (because I’d prefer to pass the class since I don’t have real students to test my lesson plans on). However, once the class is over, I’m thinking about creating some of these lesson plans over winter break. Of course I’ll post them here unless and until I decide to use them for a future class and aren’t allowed to plagiarize myself.

Advertisements

Christianity Is Just A Better Religion Than I | The Daily Caller–A Rebuttal

http://dailycaller.com/2017/11/02/christianity-is-just-a-better-religion-than-islam/

“But the ‘renaissance’ injected into western man an absurd inferiority complex in regard to pagan antiquity and then the ‘Enlightenment’ insisted on eliminating from public policy and public law the very Christian revelation which defined and ennobled western man. “

Except, the Renaissance and Enlightenment literally brought Christians out of the dark ages. Education was quite stagnant in Christendom during the dark ages. There was minimal innovation and little exploration. Then, Christians invaded the right places in the Islamic world and REDISCOVERED the philosophical works of the Greeks and Romans. Art, Literature, Science,Mathematics were REBORN in Western Culture. 

Excerpt, this wasn’t pure Greek and Roman. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 and possibly 0 are known as ARABIC numerals (as opposed to Roman numerals: I, II, III, etc). You see, while Christians were busy planning invasions of the Holy Lands (the Crusades), the Islamic world was translating and expanding on the philosophical works they were protecting, probably stolen, but that’s okay in 1000CE, because they were stolen manuscripts depicting educational materials. Would you think a manuscript with Pathagorius’ (sorry about spelling!) notes on triangles valuable enough to steal in a world where Christians were looking for the Holy Grail?

I’m not sure when Islamic scholars decided that the Earth circled the Sun, instead of the Sun circling the Earth, but Copernicus sat on his research until his deathbed, some 20 years after he more or less figured it out (1543), because he was certain he’d be jailed or killed for his heresy. Galileo WAS placed under house arrest ~70 years later when he proved Copernicus’ theoretical mathematics correct after building his own version of the telescope.

What is most telling about Fimister’s complete ignorance of history is this:

 The ‘Enlightenment’ is a parasite, it will not survive the death of its host. But it is strong enough to weaken the West to the point where its traditional external enemy the Islamic Ummah can strike the killer blow. Deep down the liberals know this is case, as they contracept and abort and legislate our civilisation into extinction, but in the end they don’t care. Their ultimate motive was always less the love of ‘liberty’ and more the hatred of Christ.

Without the Enlightenment, and it’s emphasis on the intelligence of man, there would not have been a Reformation!

Martin Luther is as much a child of the Renaissance and Nicholas Copernicus! They wereboth seeking answers outside of the monopoly that was the Roman Catholic Church. They both were heretics with ideas that threatened Church Doctrine. Both men show that anyone, not just Catholic Priests, are capable of making discoveries on their own.

Probably the stickiest part argument in favor of Christianity (which I assume is modern Evangelical Christianity) is that the most important person other that Luther for the spread of Protestantism is King Henry viii, who changed England from Catholic to Protestant solely so he could divorce Catherine of Aragon. After 6 marriages and 3 divorces, the Tudor line started many started many religious wars, but didn’t extend their reign. Had Henry stayed Catholic, America would probably be a more Catholic nation where divorce and birth control are taboo.

Of course, America would still be ruled by Britain because Democracy? Freedom of Speech? These are totally Enlightenment things.

When Theory Matches Reality

Ever since I decided to become a teacher (for apparently the second time in my life, haha), I’ve paid a lot of attention to education as discussed by commentators and lawmakers.

Since I was a middle and high school student during “No Child Left Behind” and in college when “Common Core” was adopted, I heard a lot of adults and educators complaining about both because they’re too strict and don’t let teachers make decisions.

Now, at some point in college, I decided to consider myself a Non-Conformist. Pretty much, I do my own thing based on my own rules and am very good a “smiling and nodding” when I think other people’s ideas are bat-shit crazy.

When I first heard about “Common Core” the thing that struck me most was that it would mean that students in (hopefully) all 50 states would be taught using the same curriculum. This, I thought, would mean that a student could transfer from one school in one state into another school in a different state without much confusion due to repetition and stuff being “skipped”. I have a cousin who moved from SC to PA (or vice versa) in 4th grade and thought that the Civil War was 2 different wars because of the completely different way it was taught in both states. I think that this is the example that shows exactly how screwed up our education system is in America. Living in Southeastern VA means that there are a lot of military kids who move around a lot and they deserve to have one solid education, not a piecemeal one based on what the individual states think is important.

Anyway, so, I was loving Common Core and then I started hearing parents and educators complaining about the new way of teaching math. Mmmkay….

They started showing me examples. I agree: that crap is weird!!

But…is that a problem with the overall aspect of Common Core? Or is it an implementation problem?

Hehehehehe.

My education class this semester is Language Acquisition and Reading. This week we’re learning about lesson planning, which includes information on Basal Readers which has since become the educational idea of a “core reading program”. Essentially, teachers are handed a reading program that’s supposed to solve all their problems so long as they work through the program systematically with their students. The article we read this week explains why this doesn’t work (USING BASAL: From Dutiful Fidelity to Intelligent Decision Making by Peter Dezvitz and Jennifer Jones).

Essentially the problem is that no two children or classrooms are exactly the same (duh). The Basal can offer a great place for novice teachers to start, but teachers still need to evaluate their students to determine exactly what they need individually. The Basal can’t really differentiate for students.

Which, really, only serves to prove the point I’ve been trying to make for going on 10 years now: the school system can make all the mandates they want, but teachers are completely free to revise and plan on their own (“defying the school system’s mandates”) all they want so long as at the end of the day the student is learning exactly what they need to learn!!

Before “No Child Left Behind” and “Common Core” Virginia had it’s Standards of Learning (SOL) tests. Every student in 3rd, 5th, 8th, and various high school classes had to pass these suckers in order to graduate and the student’s scores had great influence on teachers keeping their jobs and schools getting accreditation.

This, of course, led to many teachers and administrators deciding that it was better to “teach the test” so that the schools kept up appearances of offering a quality education.

I call these teachers LAZY!

You see, even though I was in AP and dual enrollment classes in high school, I still had to take the SOL tests. Here’s the thing: as a class, we NEVER studied for the SOLs. This is because the AP and dual enrollment requirements are above and beyond what the SOLs ask and so without any special preparation, we AP kids easily aced or nearly aced the SOLs.

I had many friends in regular classes and they were given vast workbooks meant to prepare them for the SOL tests. I read through them and was fascinated and appalled by how little in depth knowledge was required of them! That’s not right!

Since I spent so much time with the “regular” kids, I could never understand what made me special. Sure, I had more knowledge, but that was because I was in classes that required me to go above and beyond and so the incidental facts were easily retained.

It’s easy to remember that the Revolutionary War was fought between 1775 and 1783 when you’re writing essays in 30 minutes on “To what extent is a Revolutionary War a literal revolution where society returns to the status quo after a short period of change?”. Memorizing dates is lot easier than trying to determine if everything after a revolution is actually just like it was before the revolution (I’m convinced that it’s more like a spiral where life is similar, but with a striking difference; like, American’s don’t drink as much tea as the English).

Anyway, since I think that students are much more competent and capable than school systems seem to give them credit for, I’ve always decided that if a teacher is complaining about too much regulation and testing by administrators, the teacher probably isn’t a very good teacher.

Do many kids get stressed out about taking too many tests? Yes. Can students be given the skills to make these tests so easy that they’re a joke? HELL YES! If a teacher is afraid of their students doing poorly on any given test, then the teacher hasn’t taught them properly. Period.

And any teacher who thinks that gathering meaningful data about their students and evaluating how that data should influence instruction is too much work should be fired. We did Running Records a couple weeks ago. Yes, they seemed awkward, but I just watched a YouTube video of a teacher performing one very fluidly as part of small group instruction. In other words, I see how easy performing a Running Record can be with practice and the data it provides is invaluable. To think of it as too much work undermines just how much work and care goes into teaching!

I was reading these tips for Homeschooling and thought it was pretty horrible that in the chart for analyzing different methods of education, the amount of parental involvement was listed under the disadvantages! I mean…if parents are going to be teachers, then they should be comfortable being teachers! That means lesson planning. That means evaluations. That means actually learning the content before you attempt to teach it! I think that there’s a reason why most of the homeschooling blogs I follow don’t have much information for teaching children after they’ve become “independent readers”. Once the kid can read it seems like the parent only exists to answer specific questions that the child has (which means Google?).

I’ve taken enough standardized tests from elementary to high school to know one thing: except for the writing example section, they’re always multiple choice tests. I highly doubt that Common Core has added short answer sections. Which means that even in the math section, with the crazy, seemingly made up techniques, the only thing that matters is that the student gets the correct answer.

So, in a real world classroom, if the school system mandates a specific way of instruction, the teacher can teach that, plus whatever other techniques that individual students may have an easier time using. Because, here’s the thing: most of that “crazy math” is just meant to help students better grasp the concepts of numbers and how they relate to each other. It’s supposed to help students rely less on memorization and more on why math works.

  • 1/16th=0.062
  • 3/8ths=0.375
  • 5/8ths=0.625

I hate rotely memorizing things! I don’t have the patience for drills and I find such isolated facts to be useless information. But, I’ve just listed 3 of the more obscure inches to decimal conversions that I know (skipping the obvious quarters and halves). Why do I know these? Because I work in a print shop and our line-gauges are in inches while our paper cutter is in decimals. If I’m measuring something to cut it, I have to do the conversions. We have a cheat sheet right on the wall behind the cutter, but after a few months, they started to stick. And once I have them memorized, I don’t need to look at the cheat sheet anymore. (In a classroom, a student would probably be required to carry out the long division to make the conversion).

If a Common Core tests asks the student to do a division problem, the answer will be in numbers; it will not be asking them to show their work unless the question requires them to use a specific technique! But, that means that the teacher should have taught that technique as something to be learned, and if the student doesn’t understand the technique, other techniques should be taught in conjunction, with emphasis that learning the technique that will be asked about on the test is as important to learn as how to find the correct answer.

Do you see what I did there? If there are 4 ways to solve a problem, then the teacher should teach all 4 ways, illustrating why each of the ways is different and giving each it’s proper name. In other words, the techniques are facts to be learned, not just what the answer to the problem is.

If Common Core doesn’t test specific techniques and those techniques are useless once the core information has been memorized (e.g. 7×8=56), then it really doesn’t matter how kids learn to do math so long as they learn the technique that works best for them.

See? Lazy teachers are part of the problem. It’s harder to teach 4 techniques instead of just one, so I’m sure many teachers are unwilling to add onto their already overflowing workloads, even though I’m personally convinced that it’s actually easier to teach 4 techniques instead of trying to force the wrong technique onto a specific student.

P.S. This of course leads back to homeschooling parents who don’t want the state to oversee their child’s education. Remember what I was saying about the SOLs? If you as a homeschooling parent are teaching your child above and beyond what the minimum requirements of the state are, then you should have no fear of your child taking state mandated tests to ensure that they’re getting a basic education.

And if you’re refusing the teach your child evolution because you’re afraid that it will hurt their relationship with God (and that is why you keep your child out of school and are afraid of state tests), you are a bad teacher. Teaching the science adequately will not alter faith since religion and science have nothing to do with each other. Science describes the what and how; religion gives reasons for the why. Science functions perfectly without getting stuck on why things work the way that they do; for science why doesn’t matter. Lying to your child about how old the Earth is because this information disagrees with your holy book only serves to disadvantage your child because you’ve most likely cut out or otherwise undermined the very foundation of scientific inquiry: The Scientific Method.

Pro-tip: teach everything from the standpoint of the Scientific Method. Background Information/Observation, Hypothesis, Design and Conduct the Experiment, Evaluate the Data, Draw a Conclusion. Repeat steps as needed. Seriously, it works for every subject (or so say’s this history and environmental science major :-))!

When Cows and Kids Collide: ATI Wisdom Booklets: Bright and Shining Countenance

http://whencowsandkidscollide.blogspot.com/2017/10/ati-wisdom-booklets-bright-and-shining.html

This is what passes for education in the Duggar and Bates households. This stuff is taught with the same seriousness as misinformation about how stress harms bone structure.

Horse Pills

While reading about a little girl with HIV, I was struck by how very large her pills are (a lot of the article was about how she had to be told about the HIV because she was fighting the pill taking so much). 

So, I’m curious. Why are some pills so huge? I assume it’s because you need so many milligrams of the medication. But, why doesn’t the manufacturer make them half the size with instructions to take two instead of one? Does pill size have something to do with efficacy?

An interesting dream/idea

I had an interesting dream last night. I was at a science museum with various family members. One of the items we saw was a windmill that didn’t really rely on wind. 

Its blades were made up of multiple weights on tracks that slipped around as it turned so that the balance was off just enough to make it keep turning. Kind of like the “Wonder Wheel” on Coney Island in terms of the weights tracks, though it keeps itself moving because of gravity.

I’m not much of an engineer, so if anyone wants to play with this idea, have fun, but let me know how it goes!