Why are we blogging in science class?

I’ve been asked by students and a couple of parents – “why are we blogging in science class?”
Students collaborating

There are several reasons:

Paper reduction

In my experience, students do not value paper.  They see any work done on paper as disposable – worth little more than the paper itself.  Paper assignments are constantly left laying around my room – from my class and from others – even work that has not yet been turned in!

We go through WAY too much paper in schools – nearly all of which ends up in the trash – wasting money and natural resources

Reflection for learning

I want students to reflect on their learning.

In my opinion (supported by educational research), students retain much more of their learning if they take the time to reflect on it.  This means thinking back on what they learned and why it is important and/or valuable.  This means evaluating the quality of their work and their level of effort.  It also means setting goals for future learning experiences!

Public nature of blogs

Students’ work on their blogs is public – visible to the world.  This raises the value of the work because it will not only be seen by their teacher.  Already my students have received comments and feedback from teachers around the country and from fellow students in Minden, Louisiana.  Parents and peers can also view the work and leave comments.

Creation of an electronic portfolio

Students in my classes are creating a year-long digital portfolio of their work.  At the end of the year, they will be able to look back on what they’ve done and reflect on how much they have learned.  They should be able to see evidence of their learning and their growth.

At the end of each semester, I plan to have my students compile some examples of their best work to post to their blog and reflect on.  This will be part of the final semester assessment in my class.

Revision

I have found this year that students are MUCH more willing to revise and improve work that has been done electronically.  Handwritten assignments that must be completely rewritten are rarely revised – even if the student is not happy with his/her grade!  It’s just too much work in their eyes to rewrite the whole thing!

This is the world that we live in!

The world that we live in – that my students have grown up in – is digital!

This is what they know and, more importantly, this is what their future lives will center around.  I am doing my part to help to prepare them for that world – as a student, as a future employee, and as a citizen

Dueling blogs

Dueling blogs - to the death?

This blog essentially serves as my “personal” blog – although it’s entirely focused on education and my professional development.  However, I have another blog that is dedicated to my classes and which I use to post assignments for my students, as well as information about what is going on in my classes.  It recently occurred to me that I need to bring some of that flavor over from that blog into this one – to give a glimpse of what is really going on in my classroom.

So to that end, I will be dual posting some things to both blogs – with reflections on those posts to be seen only here.

If you feel so inclined – check out my class blog at:  http://wshsscience.edublogs.org/ – feel free to leave feedback for me and/or my students!

Chemistry Water Quality Field Work

Water testing on Toppenish Creek

On 11/2/09, Chemistry spent the day traveling to 5 different stream sites to test the quality of the water.  We hit 2 spots along Toppenish Creek (Signal Peak Rd. & Harrah Rd.) and 3 spots along the Yakima River (Indian Church Rd., Granger Pond, & Zillah boat launch).

Testing water on the Yakima River

At each site, we tested the water for the following:

  • Flow rate
  • Turbidity
  • pH
  • Temperature
  • Conductivity
  • Dissolved oxygen

We also brought back water samples to test for:

  • Nitrates
  • Ammonium
  • Calcium

The experience of the day was very postive and the students learned a lot about field work and water sampling.  Now we are busy analyzing the data that we gathered and students are learning what each of the testing parameters really means.  They will be posting their reflections to their blogs next week!