This past weekend was awesome. So life changing in fact, that although it's been five days already, I still feel the need to write about it.
George and I drove to Tennessee to meet his grandparents (both sets) and see the Rhythm and Roots Festival in Bristol Va/Tn. We spent the night at his maternal grandparent's house, along with his brother Peter and his fiance Katy. I have to say I was a bit star struck (but not by Peter). George has been telling me stories about his grandpa's adventures in geology for a while now, and I'd also independently found one of Mr. Chew's (Granddad's) books in Borders. My first love is geology - something my mom instilled in me early on. She would show me her rock collections and encourage me to make my own. In college I took some fantastic geosci courses from some very enthusiastic professors and was hooked. Rocks are awesome. But not just the rocks, the processes that create and shape them, channeling power beyond our comprehension. That's awesome too.
Mr. Chew spent a summer in Alaska during it's 20th century gold rush, uncovering fossils and other treasure. He's collected Acasta Gneiss from the Canadian Shield, the oldest rock on earth. He volunteers at a fossil dig - one he's been involved with since the beginning. He's also been instrumental in maintaining his local portion of the AT, running "Friday Hikes" for active people in their golden years. One word: Badass.
The last two days of the conference were eventful. Tuesday I attended sessions on bridging the gap between the sciences and on using social media in EPO. The social media conversation was my favorite - mostly cause it confirmed that my EPO team is the shizz. There is no "best practices" or rule book on SM at the moment, so we are all making things up as we go along. It seems a bit intrusive, for us education types to be poking our heads into people's conversations and feeds,
Today was day one of the ASP 2009 Conference. The official kick off this morning came with an address detailing the progress of astronomy and science in general. It was amusing to see the gain in knowledge between the 40's and now, when the main context is that the space age had yet to dawn. Someone posed the question "what would our society be like if we never saw beyond our own sky?" He referenced a book about a world with 5 suns, that once every 2000 and some years 4 are on one side of the world and the 5th is eclipsed by the moon. The people see night for the first time. Douglas Adams wrote about the planet Cricket where the planet was nestled in a cloud of dust, blocking their view of space. When a space ship fell from the sky they fixed it up and went out to see where it came from. They saw the universe and immediately decided it must be eliminated... Not sure what my life would have been like without seeing stars. Less - it definitely would have been less.
I also attended an interesting session by the National Parks Service on conserving dark skies and how EPO can be done through the NPS. Now I want to be a park ranger. I'm seriously considering moving to Yosemite.
To round off the #nerdweek day 1 I got to listen to John Grunsfeld talk about the STS 125 mission. Very inspiring - now I want to be an astronaut too :)
Try searching #ASP and #ASP09 and #Nerdweek on twitter to find all the tweets from the meeting.
Got up this morning at 6:30 to start adventure number two. I actually pre-planned this one. I put a post on Climb Find, looking for people that wanted a partner for a climbing trip in the SF Bay area. Ended up meeting three lovely women at Stinson Beach where we spent a damp morning/afternoon bouldering along the beach. We drove down highway 1 from Sausalito, passing a zen cult along the way. We arrived at the parking lot, got coffee and answered nature's call, and headed off down the beach. Someone told us we looked like Sponge Bob carrying the crash pads, especially one of the girls, measuring in at 4'11. Height didn't have much to do with the problems we chose, she turned out to be an animal. We worked on a V0 R/X on the side of Old Man, following a flake up to a crack on a slab, then topping out and scrambling down. Would have been a solid 5.6 on a top rope, but was a bit sketchy without one. We moved to the other side of the boulder and worked on an unnamed V3 that followed a seam from bottom left to top right, ending in a cave-like hole. We cycled through and got all but the last move. It was a fun one to work on. Directly behind us on Old Woman we did a fun V2 with a top out/walk down. Back to the front of old man we finished up by working on a V4 - with a few good tries but mostly fails. Another climber came by and joined us for a bit. By then it was 2:30 in the afternoon, the tide was coming in and it had started drizzling. Conceding that the skin on our fingers was mostly gone, we decided to call it a day. Back at the hotel I took advantage of the hot tub, twisting my pinkie toe. I'm icing it now - seems to be black and blue. It's funny that out of all the things I did today I get hurt stepping into a hot tub. :-P
The best part about today by far was the company. I kept getting hit by the "Oh, I'm in California" realization throughout the day. As we were driving over the bridge on the bus, as we were winding down highway 1, looking at the Pacific... It's not that often I'm struck by the distance between myself and home, but this trip has been different in that I'm by myself entirely, and that somehow I've managed to meet more people than on any other trip. And they've all been fantastic. I'm kind of sad now that the conference is in full swing. At least now I get to indulge the science educator side of me now that the adventurer has been satisfied. Pictures to come!
Today blew by like the wind from the Pacific over the city. (Nice image, hu?) I took a tour of the financial district, learning about the architecture and history of the buildings. I saw the first glass walled building, considered to be the most definitive structure in San Francisco. The Halliday Building is being a shopping gallery, the front-on view no longer visible in full. It was made to look like draperies, with the valence of iron at the top and two opposing fire escapes on either side as the pulls, ready to draw back the glass. The other location that stuck out was the last building to be built before the stock market crashed, and on the opposite side of the street, the first one to be built after the wars. The new building is glass, and I got a nice shot of the old reflecting in it - picturesquely metaphoric for the old reflected in the new. The most quirky building was the "Skinny Building" - 20 feet wide! Odd looking, it used to be a belt and tie factory :-P I grabbed a bite to eat at Noah's Bagles, hopped on a trolly and went to Ghiradelli Square to check out the chocolate festival. One free sample later I wandered back up into the city and found Lumbard St - the most crooked street in the US. There was a crowd at the top, but that's cause the views were incredible. You could see the Golden Gate bridge and Alcatraz. I walked down Lumbard and made my way to the bike rental place and got outfitted. I took the bike back through the chocolate festival and down the coast to the bridge. Along the way I met another lone adventurer. He was from London. I asked him to take my picture and we ended up trading photo ops all the way over the bridge and back. The ride there was tiring - but the views were worth it! The bridge was covered in fog, giving it a disappearing effect. The bridge is so huge! Riding over it really gives one a sense of it's scale. The wind was pretty fierce too. I was having such a good time though, that by the time I rode back over towards SF my cheeks hurt from smiling. I saw several boats go under the bridge, leaving white wakes behind them, and watched dogs play on the beach in the waves. Such a good afternoon. I got food for tomorrow at Safeway and walked to the BART station to go back to the hotel. Right now I'm getting directions out of the city so I can boulder at Stinson Beach tomorrow. Pictures to come soon!
I've got all the materials and handouts ready. I've even typed up a summary of my workshop. I'm impressed with myself. Now all I have to do is remember to pack everything (Might be more difficult than I thought). I've also maaaybe found someone to climb with while I'm there, which would be fun. Looks like Castle Rock State park is the best place to go.
To do: Call climbfind partner Pack accordingly Remember toothpaste Get dog food Take out cash Get gas Entertainment on iPod for flight Sleeping pills... Bathing suit Red heels Flight schedule!
I'm scheduled to give a workshop at ASP this coming week. Being the nobody that I am my time slot is on the last day at 10:45 am. It could be worse, my time could be later when everyone has already checked out to catch their flights home. No matter, it's going to be amazing and the lucky few who get to attend will be better for it :-P
Here is a brief run-down of what I'll be talking about.
Principles of Inquiry: Using Interactive Notebooks in Formal Education Programs
(Insert tantalizing mystery box activity here. Yeah, you know you wanna go to ASP now)
First off, who am I to be giving this talk? I am a teacher by trade, having done my time in middle school, working mostly with underserved and under motivated populations. My work as formal education coordinator for SDO had given me the opportunity to apply the techniques I learned from classroom teaching to larger scale programs.
The term "inquiry" is wearing thin in education today. Teachers are tired of hearing it, every workshop has it in its title, and school administrators won't approve a curriculum or activity without it. But what is it? We EPO folk are lucky in that we have the time to develop resources. Teachers do what we do, and often better, in hours if not minutes. So how can we stay cutting edge and relevant for the teachers on the front lines?
Here is everything you need to know but were afraid to ask about science inquiry in one minute or less:
Science inquiry in education is based on the principles of brain-based learning: The search for meaning is innate. At it’s core the search for meaning is purpose and value driven. This was explained by Maslow in his hierarchy of needs, thus the search for meaning ranges from “What will I eat, how will I be safe?” to “Where do I fit in?” and “How can I contribute?” The search for meaning in science can be stimulated by questioning, hypothesizing, and by exploring unexpected results.
Connections: The brain is designed to find connections. An effective science inquiry experience is rich in authenticity and purpose, clearly connecting to other aspects of both science and life. Students will retain and be able to recall facts and information easily when they are linked to multiple sources.
Engagement: Students who participate in true science inquiry take ownership of their learning. Introducing challenge and creating a sense of wonder are easy and efficient ways to engage the mind. But remember: Just because something is “Hands on” doesn’t mean it’s “Minds on.” Inquiry doesn’t always mean student directed, open ended research projects. Students learn in a variety of ways, each modality needs to be included to engage as many students as possible.
So how can we apply this in every single lesson/activity/curriculum we create? The answer is you can’t. You’d go nuts. But you can structure your resources in a way that lends it’s self to the creation of such products. Here’s how:
The ABC’s of Inquiry:
Activity Before Concept. (ABC) Engage students in the concept to be learned WITHOUT priming them first. Don’t tell them what you are going to teach them, let them figure it out for themselves. Through discussion following the activity the concept can be teased out. What was in their subconscious will emerge and become a solidconcept that is not only connected to their prior knowledge, but is now a rewarding “Aha!” moment.
Lets see this in action: (Insert ball bouncing activity here, you really ought to come to ASP…)
Concept Before Vocabulary: (CBV) Explore the concept. As you explore students will realize a NEED for the words to accurately describe it. Identify the need, then give them the tools. No more rote memorization of vocabulary, the meaning and application of words is now owned by the students.
Lets see this one in action too: (Metals. Heavy ones. Gotta be there to see it…)
So why the ABC’s? To engage, to wonder, to challenge, to link. Design your resources with this in mind and you can’t avoid the “inquiry.”
To further put this into practice, consider this format: The Interactive Notebook Another new buzz term, but entirely worth the accolade it receives, is “Interactive Notebook.” The interactive notebook goes beyond traditional classroom record keeping. It provides a home and structure for the connections being made in an inquiry-based classroom or program.
“Predict, Method, Live-it”
The “Predict” portion of your notebook or lesson is to engage your students and to tap into their prior knowledge. This section should be student driven. There is no right answer.
The “Method” section is the meat of the concept. It could be notes, an investigation, lab results, or drawings. It is driven by the teacher to whatever degree is required by the lesson. More structured for “directed inquiry” and more open ended for “true inquiry.”
The “Live-it” portion is the wrap up, the application and the conclusion. It asks students to prove that they’ve learned by applying the concept. Higher order thinking tasks should be assigned, such as evaluation, application or synthesis. This section should be student driven as well, with products being evaluated by the teacher.
Wanna try it out? See how it works? (Again, ASP attendees have it all…)
So why design lessons using the interactive notebook format? Predict, Method and Live-it are analogous to engagement, connection and meaning. (Also to the 5 E’s, but I think that’s copyrighted or something.) The format lends it’s self to the development of inquiry and student centered learning.
Lets try using it, but only if there is time. By now my 45 minutes may be up.
Concluding Thoughts: Application – These principles and strategies can be used in teacher workshops, classroom visits, curriculum development.
Science is not a foreign subject – its internal to every student. Exploration is as natural as breathing. The focus needs to stop being on creating the next Einstein, but on showing EVERY student that science is a welcomed part of their every day lives. Creating a scientifically literate generation is key to the survival of our society. Scientifically literate people make good decisions, they vote, they contribute. Developing that subconscious process will improve their lives as well as society as a whole.
Friday night George and I drove down to NC to visit Mike, Katie and George's little brother Peter at Mike's Lake house in at Lake Lure. The plan was to go climbing the next day in Linville Gorge, and play with the boat that evening. Plans, however, fail. We woke up late, got lost in the car, and got lost on the trail. The hike was amazingly beautiful, almost worth the trek through the thorns. We finally found the trail and decided to call it a day, go home, and try tomorrow. Back at the lake - tubing, bailing, and a headache were on the agenda. Dinner was awesome, as were Mike's margaritas. Tomorrow came, and George, Peter and I woke up at 6:30, but Mike and Katie did not, sleeping through the noise of breakfast, and causing the three of us to abandon ship and sink back into slumber. 9:30 dawns... One movie later we leave for a closer crag. The walk in is alright, but I'm already tired from the day before and the semi-early morning. Get to the first climb (5.8) to find the first move is about 6 inches higher than my comfort zone. I step in a hole, twist my ankle and give up. Climbed a 5.5 later after the throbbing stopped and my ego healed a bit. Walked back out and went back to the house to pack and leave. Not before jumping off the 20 foot dock a few times though. That was fun.
Here lies the struggle: Climbing outside - I have NO confidence doing it and I'm tired of being the sucky one. Makes me wanna quit. Haven't decided yet though. Was so looking forward to having a good trip and failed. Not sure I wanna take another hit like that. More interested in a hobby that will boost my confidence, not kill it. Sara suggested earlier that my anxiety might be coming from an outside source - heaven knows I have had enough personal turmoil lately. Not sure. Just know that climbing has been my respite this past year and I owe alot of my sanity to it. Maybe learning to overcome this problem will translate to other areas of my life. Constantly learning how to push myself forward could be a good thing.
Fall is shaping up to be more exciting than I had intended. Not that it's a bad thing. I've found that having things to look forward to is essential to keeping perspective, be they tomorrow or years ahead. Here's my fall:
Today: Driving to NC to go climbing. Friday Next: Fly to California to spend a week at ASP conference 2009- presenting on final day. The weekend after that: Going to TN to see George's grand parents - all 4 - at a music fest. His uncle is performing too. October: Mt. Vernon Wine Festival, UVA Football game, Probably more climbing. Maybe a trip to Bmore with some astronomers too. November: PENN STATE FOOTBALL GAME BABY!!! YEAH! (I'm exited, can you tell?)
I wonder if I'll still have a job at Earth Treks by December...