Thursday, October 18, 2007

Time to throw in the towel on ACT

We've had four roundtable discussions with candidates at SVES, and last night for the most important discussion with all the Board Candidates, we had less than ten people show up, even though it was in the newspaper several times and distributed via email to all ACT members. Two of the four officers, Carmen Ada and Pastor Gagaring, didn't make it to one of these discussions, and apparently those two offer no assistance to ACT whatsoever. The teacher's representative to the board of education didn't attend any of the roundtable discussions, either.

At the same time, Betty Miller has been breaking her chops trying to get something done with ACT. I don't see her getting any support from teachers or her officers. As Betty's friend, I must advise her to put her energy into her own family and her own school because simply put, the mass of teachers here isn't worth her time, but Betty is more generous than me so she probably will continue working without any help. Betty didn't say anything to me about this, and these aren't her thoughts. I just wanted the officers to know that people notice you ran and you aren't doing anything at all.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day: Micronesia Challenge in Schools

October 15, 2007 marks the Blog Action Day on the Environment. So I thought I'd share an assignment I do with my Hopwood students and NMC students. Please feel free to share with other teachers and use it as a guide to create your own Micronesia Challenge projects.

Micronesian Challenge Symposium

Introduction: The Micronesian Challenge aims to conserve marine and forest resources across the region. The program hopes to conserve at least 30% of near shore marine sources and 20% of forests all over Micronesia by the year 2020. Besides the CNMI, the other countries involved include Guam, the Marshall Islands, Palau, and the Federated States of Micronesia.

Guidelines for projects:
Originality: The data, results, innovations or models should be original.

Projects should cover at least two of the following aspects:
1. Natural environment
2. Social/cultural environment
3. Economic environment

Social Action:
Projects should involve some sort of social action (conducting research in the field like counting birds or trees, surveying people about their recycling habits, creating a play, podcast, website or brochure to educate the public, developing a service project that helps restore native plants or animals, etc. Most students will opt for Power Point because its “easy”. Limit the number of groups who are allowed to do this, or create a list of possible projects and have students select which on they want to do.

The project should also show student self reflection. The reflection may discuss how the project helped raise awareness and enhance knowledge on issues of sustainable development. Students may also write about how the project helped transform behavior and attitudes towards the environment. The reflection should also include problems encountered along the way and possible solutions.

Step 1
Choose a Theme
As a class explore the purpose of the Micronesian Challenge and review the definition of sustainable development. Make a list of all of the issues students can think of that are connected to the challenge. Narrow down the list to one topic for Saipan, one for Tinian. Then break up the topic into specific questions to investigate.

Step 2:
Conduct a Literature Review
Try to look for any related news, websites, books, magazines, research papers, documentaries etc. that are related to your theme. By reviewing the already available information, narrow the scope of the research or project. For example, “Global Warming” would be too broad for a group to handle, but students could research the consumption of fossil fuels in the CNMI. Or a topic like “How make a fuel cell” may be too technical, but students could research energy sources that would reduce pollution in the ocean or on land. If the topic is recycling, students might look at the impact of not having a transfer station on the south end of the island, or whether a bottle bill would reduce littering, or whether curbside recycling would decrease the amount of garbage in the landfill.

Take notes, include citation of where the information is from (name of author, title, date published, page number, etc.)

1. 3 pages of notes due by the end of Week 3.

Step 3
Methodology/Design of Research
This is the most challenging part of the project. Try to think about the final product. What resources, apparatus, materials, financial support, helpers expertise, etc. will groups need. If it is a research project, such as a survey or experiment looking at levels of pollution, the students will need to write a hypothesis and some experiments or statistical analysis to test the hypothesis. If students want to include some innovation e.g. making models, students need to specify if they used questionnaires, scientific investigation, interviews, etc.

1. Write an abstract for what you are going to do. This should be 1-2 pages and must be shown to your teacher for approval by the end of week 3.
2. Conduct research or implement project, record data or evaluate success. This must be finished by the end of week 6.

Step 4
Writing a Report:
The report should include:
Introduction: (short abstract, highlights of literature review) (1-2 paragraphs)
Methodology: brief explanation of what the group did and how they did it. (1-2 paragraphs)
Results: It would be better to present the data in the form of graphs and tables. If possible, use some statistics e.g. mean, mode, median, standard deviation, etc. to present some pattern in the data. Summaries for the interviews should be shown if necessary. (1-2 Paragraphs)
Data interpretation: With reference to the results, students should give an interpretation of the data that is logical and systematic. They may describe and explain the trend of a graph. (1 paragraph)
Validity and reliability of the data: Students may also give comments on the validity and reliability of their data and results. If there is are any potential errors, please specify and try to think about how to improve the project. (1 paragraph)
Self reflection: Share your reflections during the process of completing the project.( 2-3 paragraphs)
Further investigation: what else would you study if you had more time or resources. (1 paragraph)
Conclusion: Make a concluding statement for your project. It should be concrete and precise. This is the core message that you want to share with your audience during presentations. (1 paragraph)

Step 5
Create Poster Displays

The display should show highlights of the project and clearly state the conclusions of the group, what they learned, what they did and how it benefited the community. If the group put on a play, the poster should have pictures from the play, if the group developed a power point and presented to different groups, they should have pictures of where they presented, and copies of the slides, data on who they presented to, etc.

Step 6

Each group will be given 5 minutes to present to the class. Every student must say something. They can use their posters, power point, hand outs etc. to present to the class. Presentations need to include the following:
• Overview of what issue they picked and what they did
• Results
• Who the project benefited
• What they learned (self reflection)
• What would they do differently next time

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Second Guessing the Expert

I am a professional educator. I've been trained, spent thousands of dollars on classes and given up multiple weekends and evenings, not to mention parting with personal funds for the classroom, all for the students. I had to revoke lab priviledges recently and use book work as a consequence for bad behavior. I was bored, the students were bored. Science classrooms should be dynamic, fun and challenging. Accomodating 30 students in science is very difficult and presence many potential hazards.

Part of classroom management is room configuration. This past Spring, I knew I'd be getting larger classes and I also knew, after 2 years in this room, that the table design in my room just doesn't work. The tables are about 3.5 feet wide and 15 feet long. They are nailed to the floor and have electrical outlets and sinks built in. The outlets and sinks sound great. However, the outlets are rarely used and can be a hazard for students wanting to stick things in them. And the sinks? Well, the sinks were convenient trash recepticles and betel nut spitoons.

I had the sinks covered in plywood and then I painted them with enamel paint. The problem is, the tables aren't conducive to small group learning and I can't move them. They are perfectly centered in the room, which leaves a lot of wasted space and they are falling apart. The metal trim is coming loose from students removing the screws. Yesterday, a student ripped his pants as he brushed up against the corner of the table.

Last June, I put in a request to cut my tables into thirds, add new legs, remove the metal trim, the sinks, outlets etc. I wanted tables on castors that I could move in the room to accomodate 30 students. I wanted tables where I could sit 4-5 students instead of 12.

But Capital Improvements said no. They said they spent several thousand dollars, umpteen years ago, building the room and couldn't justify taking it apart.

I guess if mom calls about wanting money for her son's pants, I'll refer her to Capital Improvements. I was even willing to pay for the lumber.