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Sunday, May 07, 2017



Project-Based Learning 
in the science classroom

Teaching to mainstream students in our public schools presents a host of challenges for teachers to overcome when educating students in the science classroom.  The pedagogy that educators develop to meet these challenges require an adaptive nature by which to implement curriculum (content, scope and sequence).  This methodology lends best to the conditions presented in the learning environment.  I believe these challenges facing teachers today require the most urgently needed changes in science education in American public schools.

After school programs, competitive science projects, gifted student programs and STEM related programs outside the realm of the 8 hour school day are where science projects currently hold sway.  Without question, I believe that project-based science needs to be part of the scope and sequence within a science curriculum.  I believe teachers can achieve a seamless transition between conceptual units in science through the implementation of project-based science initiatives embedded in the curriculum.  This 21st century model for education provides learning experiences that captivate minds and inspire intrinsic motivation to learn.  It supports in-depth and long-term learning experience where students can dwell upon and reflect on outcomes that are achieved in-line with performance-based expectations.

Getting students to engage in the learning process has never been more of a challenge than it is today in our schools.  Educational experiences, provided to students in science education, are moving toward performance-based models for learning and assessments.  There is no better performance-based model for learning than project-based educational initiatives that challenge students’ skills and abilities as a whole and not as piece-meal assessments of one aspect of one concept at a time in the curriculum.

Play, Passion and Purpose are at the center of excellent teaching and learning.  The interest in and ability, by students, to create new knowledge to solve new problems is the single most important skill that students must master today.  Successful innovators have mastered the ability to learn on their own “in the moment” and have the foresight to apply that knowledge in new ways. To be a successful science teacher you have to make it fun for kids and that means making it theirs.  Students have ownership over what they are learning and they develop a commitment and resilience to follow through on these discoveries.

















Friday, March 31, 2017



The Crescendo in the Science Classroom
The mindset of a learned student in the 21st century

You may laud music that draws you into a dreaminess state of mind or it can provide a stimulus for foot-stomping action.  Music carries with it an emotional content along with complexities and subtleties.  Music moves people and it is a pleasurable thing to experience.  It is a form of escapism for the mind.

Flow, as described by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi in his book on the psychology of optimal experience, details a similar experience of losing oneself in the moment, but this is now done within the realm of academics. Students become so engrossed in the event that time stops, focus becomes laser-like and the world around them seems distant.  This euphoric pleasurable learning mindset is an outcome of living experiences that swell, like a crescendo, and resonate with students emotionally and academically.

The moment, the crescendo, that all-encompassing event is what educators call the learning experience. Employing teaching and learning strategies in the classroom geared toward open-ended problem solving experiences, will ebb-and-flow their way toward this event and produce that moment for students to immerse themselves in learning.  Students, working on projects, forge forward with experimentation or toil over the analysis of data looking for relationships while collaborating within teams of students that discuss outcomes and evidence-based conclusions.

From the genesis of their education, students need to be enculturated in this new way of thinking. Initially, students experiment with what is obvious or well know, like gravity or heating matter, but learners have to eventually rethink their assumptions about the world that they inhabit by relying upon new evidence and new understanding creating broad sweeping mental images of the universe that they experience. There has to be an emotional investment by students to want to learn new outcomes and embrace the relevance of knowing and understanding science and its effects upon their lives. Project-based science is the means to this end result.

The current generation of K-12 students have not experienced coherent strategies, in the classroom, designed to develop critical thinking.  Currently, teachers and students are going through a tough learning curve to move pedagogy from rote memorization and standardized testing without understanding, toward a more realistic accounting of students that are now learning how to become more effective problem solvers.

We can only hold students accountable for what they have experienced in school and in life.  To change the way students learn is to change the expectations that we have for them in our classrooms.  Modeling this new way of thinking will increase intrinsic motivation of students to learn and perform and thereby change education forever.