January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

Meaningful Thinking in 140 Characters or Fewer

Posted: Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

by Jill Grace

I’ve learned the hard way that I will get “huffs”, eye-rolls, grunts, and the occasional nuclear meltdown from students if I ask them to summarize their learning in, dare I say it, a paragraph. It’s as though paragraph is a bad word and how shocking that I would ask for one in science class! I even get slammed with questions: “How many sentences to I have to write?” (why are we still asking that question in middle school?), “Do I have to use complete sentences?”, and “Do I really have to write a whole paragraph?” *teacher sigh*

First and foremost, I am a huge advocate of having students produce writing in a science class. I will also admit that this can be a challenge, and so the year that I decided to make the shift to an interactive science notebook it was glaring at me. I would be asking students for writing as a vehicle to share their thinking (in what we refer to as “outputs” in the notebook) all the time. Although we wouldn’t be able to avoid the writing, sometimes I may want to ask my students to share their thinking in a way that will avoid the drama that asking for a paragraph can sometimes generate. (Incidentally, this was all prior to implementation of the Common Core Standards – where anecdotally, in just one year, I’ve seen a big shift in student acceptance of writing outside of language arts.)

Switching to the interactive notebook is when I started to get creative. I greedily snatched up every thinking map I could find. I realized that poetry could be used, even brief poetry. To try and summarize what you have learned in the form of a haiku? Deceptively difficult to do well. How about a concept acrostic? You have to dig deep for that.

And then there was that beautiful day I came across this comic and the wheels started turning:

Great Tweets of Science from Piled Higher and Deeper by Jorge Cham

Great Tweets of Science from Piled Higher and Deeper by Jorge Cham

I could ask the kids to make a Tweet!

The first time I tried this was when we were knee-deep in genetics and the kids were learning a bit about Gregor Mendel. They were working on an assignment asking them to make sense of his contributions and I decided to have a Twitter “throw down” (a friendly competition for the best work in the class – the winning Tweeters earn extra points).

If Twitter existed in Mendel’s day, what would he have Tweeted?

Tweet requirements:

  • Profile picture
  • Name
  • User name (@…)
  • No more than 140 total characters (includes spaces and punctuation)
  • Date and time stamp

Things that are allowed:

  • Hashtags are #awesome
  • Location allowed
  • Retweets allowed
  • Tagging other users allowed

Here are some of my favorites (minus profile pictures):

Gredor Mendel @daddygenesluvspeas
OMG just found out that parents pass 1 factor of a trait to offspring and 1 is masked! #peasarelife #iambetterthanalbert @alberteinstein
1/22/1860, 12:17 PM
(I didn’t have the heart to tell this student Einstein wasn’t alive yet)

Gregor Mendel @fatherofgenetics
Fact of the day: traits don’t blend #peasfordays #plantlyfe @officialprofessorfranz
4/16/1859, 10:30 PM

Gregor Mendel @monkbiologist
Me: what’s up? My child: just the water flowin’ up my xylem #mykidsarecrazy
11/19/1859, 4:07 PM

Gregor Mendel @geneticsgenius
After lots of work I have discovered traits don’t blend #recessive #dominant BTW my book is out #2principleslaws #readit #youwillthankme
11/14/1866, 3:43 PM

Gregor Mendel @peamonk
Purple + purple = white? #mindblown #peasoupfordinner
5/10/1865, 4:30 PM

This went over so well that I recently asked my students to make tweets to show their understanding of the discovery of the structure of DNA and the scientists involved. This time, I was able to snap some photos for you:

When I ask my students to make Tweets – I see them bursting with enthusiasm. They are so excited about what they have done that half of them find it impossible to sit in their seats, they have to get up and show all of their friends. I’ll take that kind of learning excitement any day! Oh, and it’s also a great formative assessment tool!

Final advice: as with all great power, use it sparingly. To keep students interested, save it for just a couple of assignments in the year when you want to do something to pique engagement.

There are countless ides such as this that can be used to give students a forum to reflect on their understanding. I have to give a tremendous shout-out to my colleagues on our California Middle School Science Teacher Facebook Group for bringing their brains together to reflect on meaningful thinking and helping to compile a great resource called the “Output Arsenal.” This is a collection of possible “outputs,” such Tweet. This resource can both inform teacher planning and also be used directly by students when asked to do outputs. CSTA members can access this resource on the CSTA website.

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Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace is a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance and is President of CSTA.

2 Responses

  1. Love it!
    One little caution: It may be hard to believe, but kids from low income non-English speaking households may not tweet or even have mobile phones.

  2. Susan, that is such a good point and so true! That’s one of the reasons the structure is explained to the kids first. I didn’t mention it in the article, but I also screen-shot tweets to show them as examples too.

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LATEST POST

California Science Test Academy for Educators

Posted: Thursday, February 15th, 2018

California Science Test Academy for Educators

To support implementation of the California Science Test (CAST), the California Department of Education is partnering with Educational Testing Service and WestEd to offer a one-day CAST Academy for local educational agency (LEA) science educators, to be presented at three locations in California from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. As an alternative to traveling, LEA teams can participate virtually via WebEx on one of the dates listed below.

The dates and locations for the CAST Academy are as follows:

  • Monday, April 23, 2018—Sacramento
  • Wednesday, April 25, 2018—Fresno
  • Thursday, April 26, 2018—Irvine

The CAST Academy will help participants develop a deeper understanding of the assessment design and expectations of the CAST. The academy also will provide information and activities designed to assist educators in their implementation of the California Next Generation Science Standards and three-dimensional learning to help them gain an understanding of how these new science assessment item types can inform teaching and learning. The CAST Academy dates above are intended for school and district science instructional leaders, including teacher leaders, teacher trainers, and instructional coaches. Additional trainings will be offered at a later date specifically for county staff. In addition, curriculum, professional development, and assessment leaders would benefit from this training.

A $100 registration fee will be charged for each person attending the in-person training. Each virtual team participating via WebEx will be charged $100 for up to 10 participants through one access point. Each workshop will have the capacity to accommodate a maximum of 50 virtual teams. Each virtual team will need to designate a lead, who is responsible for organizing the group locally. Registration and payment must be completed online at http://www.cvent.com/d/6tqg8k.

For more information regarding the CAST Academy, please contact Elizabeth Dilke, Program Coordinator, Educational Testing Service, by phone at 916-403-2407 or by e‑mail at caasppworkshops@ets.org.

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Accelerating into NGSS – A Statewide Rollout Series Now Accepting Registrations

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

Are you feeling behind on the implementation of NGSS? Then Accelerating into NGSS – the Statewide Rollout event – is right for you!

WHO SHOULD ATTEND
If you have not experienced Phases 1-4 of the Statewide Rollout, or are feeling behind with the implementation of NGSS, the Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout will provide you with the greatest hits from Phases 1-4!

OVERVIEW
Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout is a two-day training geared toward grade K-12 academic coaches, administrators, curriculum leads, and teacher leaders. Check-in for the two-day rollout begins at 7:30 a.m., followed by a continental breakfast. Sessions run from 8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. on Day One and from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Day Two.

Cost of training is $250 per attendee. Fee includes all materials, continental breakfast, and lunch on both days. It is recommended that districts send teams of four to six, which include at least one administrator. Payment can be made by check or credit card. If paying by check, registration is NOT complete until payment has been received. All payments must be received prior to the Rollout location date you are attending. Paying by credit card secures your seat at time of registration. No purchase orders accepted. No participant cancellation refunds.

For questions or more information, please contact Amy Kennedy at akennedy@sjcoe.net or (209) 468-9027.

REGISTER

http://bit.ly/ACCELERATINGINTONGSS

DATES & LOCATIONS
MARCH 28-29, 2018
Host: San Mateo County Office of Education
Location: San Mateo County Office of Education, Redwood City

APRIL 10-11, 2018
Host: Orange County Office of Education
Location: Brandman University, Irvine

MAY 1-2, 2018
Host: Tulare County Office of Education
Location: Tulare County Office of Education, Visalia

MAY 3-4, 2018
Host: San Bernardino Superintendent of Schools
Location: West End Educational Service Center, Rancho Cucamonga

MAY 7-8, 2018
Host: Sacramento County Office of Education
Location: Sacramento County Office of Education Conference Center and David P. Meaney Education Center, Mather

JUNE 14-15, 2018
Host: Imperial County Office of Education
Location: Imperial Valley College, Imperial

Presented by the California Department of Education, California County Superintendents Educational Services Association/County Offices of Education, K-12 Alliance @WestEd, California Science Project, and the California Science Teachers Association.

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

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Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

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Written by NGSS Early Implementer

NGSS Early Implementer

In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the California NGSS k-8 Early Implementation Initiative. This article was written by an educator(s) participating in the initiative. CSTA thanks them for their contributions and for sharing their experience with the science teaching community.

2018 CSTA Conference Call for Proposals

Posted: Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

CSTA is pleased to announce that we are now accepting proposals for 90-minute workshops and three- and six-hour short courses for the 2018 California Science Education Conference. Workshops and short courses make up the bulk of the content and professional learning opportunities available at the conference. In recognition of their contribution, members who present a workshop or short course receive 50% off of their registration fees. Click for more information regarding proposals, or submit one today by following the links below.

Short Course Proposal

Workshop Proposal Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

CSTA’s New Administrator Facebook Group Page

Posted: Monday, January 15th, 2018

by Holly Steele

The California Science Teachers Association’s mission is to promote high-quality science education, and one of the best practice’s we use to fulfill that mission is through the use of our Facebook group pages. CSTA hosts several closed and moderated Facebook group pages for specific grade levels, (Elementary, Middle, and High School), pages for district coaches and science education faculty, and the official CSTA Facebook page. These pages serve as an online resource for teachers and coaches to exchange teaching methods, materials, staying update on science events in California and asking questions. CSTA is happy to announce the creation of a 6th group page called, California Administrators Supporting Science. Learn More…

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From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.