Thursday, January 19, 2017

Science, Fake News, and Bias

We science teachers have not done our job.  Yes, we teach about dependent and independent variables, we lead students through some version of the scientific method.  We teach them about sample sizes and control groups.  We teach the difference between observation and inference, and the definitions of hypothesis and theory.

But the fact that there are adults in this country who can't differentiate between bad science and good science and are not capable of recognizing faked or biased science on social media or when reading a newspaper article or watching TV is an indictment of us.  We haven't made the connections between what scientists do in a laboratory and what the average citizen must do every day.  We need to change that.

When you and I watch an ad on T.V. for a weight loss product that promises "up to" ten pounds of weight loss in eight weeks, we scoff.  Millions of Americans click.  When you and I see a Facebook post claiming that "SHOCKING!!" new evidence has been uncovered that climate change is a "HOAX!!" we roll our eyes.  Millions of Americans "share". We have a responsibility to change that.

We need to TEACH students how to recognize bad science, fake science, and biased science.  We need to give them practice recognizing bad science on social media.  We need to give them opportunities to discuss the nuanced spectrum of bias in science.  I'm retired now, but I feel a personal responsibility to help teachers who are still in the classroom to make a difference.  I've created a free resource How To Spot Bad Science Online and on Social Media to help any teacher who wants to be part of creating a generation of American citizens who recognize and dismiss bad science in their daily lives. Please download and use it.  Make change happen.

I'm joining with many other TpT teachers to offer resources for making positive social change, and for creating a kinder and more informed citizenry. Join us please.  Download the "forever free" resources you can find on Teachers Pay Teachers, using the hashtags #kindnessnation and #weholdthesetruths in your search.

And I'm happy to also join in with a Secondary Smorgasbord Blog Hop Jan. 20 - 23rd
Hosted by: &

Links to other fabulous resources will rotate below

Sunday, January 1, 2017

A New Year really IS a New Year!

Boy THAT was the world's shortest holiday break!  And now it's time to go back.  Can I share a tip? Going back to school after a long holiday break really is like starting a new school year and you should treat it like one.

In my work as an instructional coach with struggling teachers I've seen what happens if you don't take some time to review with kids your expectations for behavior.  Things go downhill in a hurry. It might sound ridiculous, but you really do need to re-teach your basic classroom routines, especially those that kids have been too relaxed with.  Try framing it with kids as a chance to "start over".

Not only can they use that chance, but so can you.  If there are changes in your organizational structure that you've been contemplating, such as introducing interactive notebooks, or getting serious about exit activities or warm-ups or making changes to your homework requirements, this is a PERFECT time to do that.  You don't have to wait until next school year.  Treat this coming week as if it IS a new school year.

If you're really not going to start new routines or new procedures, that's fine too. But you still need to revisit your existing management routines.  If you take the time to do that, it will be worth it!

And about those lesson plans.  I know.  You just want ONE more day of holiday.  You are SO not up for spending the day planning lessons.  You might be desperately trying to figure out if you can make a curriculum connection to a popular movie.  Or maybe you just want to haul out that giant review packet of worksheets... But no.  That would not be the best idea you ever had.

You need to go back with something that is engaging for kids and delivers serious content in an effective way.  That's not a description of your textbook, right?  So here's an idea.  I've put everything in my store on sale for one day only - today Jan. 1, 2017.  Everything is 20% off - which really matters after blowing the budget for the holidays!  Come take a look at engaging well-designed resources that will ease you back into the routine with NO PREP!