April 2018 Reflection

Update on Improve Note-Taking

I have wanted to improve on how we do notetaking in science. The students currently use fill in the blank method, which I have found to require little engagement on the students’ part.

I wanted to incorporate a Da Vinci like method to note-taking. (Gelb, 1998)

I started by researching different types of note-taking and formats for each.  I settled on the Cornell method of note-taking. I made the Cornell method my own with a few variations on the form.

Update, the students have started to buy into the process of notetaking in this method.  As I walk around during out discussion on notes, I see students making the notes their own.  They are coloring with considerable attention to detail, proof that all ages still like to color.  The notes have become their own.

The idea of the importance of good note-taking occurred when a couple of my gifted students asked if they could present notes for a section of a class.  I said sure and gave them a list of terms which must be covered in their lecture to the class.  So what happened next, well it was amazing to see how the class responded to their version of notes.  The content was spot on, but the delivery well, it needed some work.  The presenters had very few pictures and a whole lot of text.  Their fellow students were like slow down!  Where are the pictures?  What are we supposed to draw?  Could you explain that another way?  The class of students was a tuff critic!  After they completed the presentation, I ask if there were any question for the presenters?  Then I ask if they had any suggestions for the presenters?  The feedback was spot on, slow down, needed more pictures, needed to have a video to help explain, went to fast.  At this point I stepped in and reminded them that they were still learning and I told the presenters that I was proud of them for putting themselves out there, to give it a try.  I put the class at ease by filling in the gaps with my presentation of Newton’s Laws.  The anxiety lowered for the class.  After class the two students reflected with me about the process.  I told them I was proud of how confident they were during their presentation.  As Smith (1998) states, you never learn if you are not confident in your ability to learn. (p. 35)

NETA 2018

Inspiring!  Dr. Joe Sanfelippo was the keynote speaker at NETA, and he had energy!  He had several talking points, but the main one was promoting what you do.  You matter!  He spoke of how teachers defend rather than tell what they do.  The learning community has strengthened my feelings on this by focusing us on our instruction and how we can become better at instruction and promotion. Now we need to tell people how we are improving.  We should say to our students, parents, and administrators that we are learning new things, implementing new ideas.  Dr. Sanfelippo noted “In the absence of knowledge people make up their own.”  I see this all the time; this is one of the reasons I use Twitter and Instagram to celebrate what we do in our class.  According to Dr. Sanfelippo We need to fill in the gaps all the time.  Dr. Sanfelippo talked about how to build the culture in a school in thirty seconds increments.  The community must first trust what you are saying, and then you must repeat it.  Keep it simple, unique and repeatable.  Their school’s message Go #crickets.

He stressed the importance of pictures.  Pictures make an emotional connection.  Every tweet, every Instagram post, every Facebook post must have a picture with some text to only help explain, not explain.  Finally, he stated that we want to tell stories to whom we are connected.  So much of what he said is tied directly into our learning community and the literature we have been reading!

Supporting our Value of Culture

Culture: Positive and constructive environment within the community.  I am supporting the culture of our learning community during our times together with our advisory group. I enjoy listening to things they have tried in the classroom and give positive feedback. However, it is the trust that each member has gained that allows for meaningful feedback.  This trust has built up over the past year and is grouping in our Google Community as well as our learning community.

Brain Rules

Reading the Brain rules have been so helpful for me that I have read it twice.  That said four of the chapters stood out for me in regards to the classroom and science in particular.  They are as follows:  exercise, attention, vision, and exploration.  The more I read about movement and exercise the more I am convinced that I need to keep working on including it with each lesson.  Everything from turning and sharing, me picking random partners for them to review or activities that require them to get out of their chair.  I like how we use movement in the learning community going from walking and talking, moving from different groups.  All of these movements help us in learning and help build our community.

NSCAS Testing

Testing what?  Why should students take any stock in this test?  How do you motivate a student to do well?  Show what they know?  I don’t have much research on the topic, but I am now going to do some looking, not for my paper, but rather for my own knowledge.  So we test them three times a year with maps, to show growth and then state test to prove they meet standards.  In 7th grade, we test math and English for the state which is done over three days in two-hour increments.  Total time 6 hours.  Next, we test maps over English two parts, Math, and Science.  Two hours set aside for each test.  Total time: 8 hours.  Total time students are tested during the school year:  14 hours.  The 14 hours has nothing to do with their grade.  Why should the student buy-in?  I would like to see the Maps test done twice a year instead of three times a year.  That would give us the growth data that matter when looking at your curriculum and how it is presented.

What about technology?  The state is always looking for ways to cut funding, but require the test be given electronically?  Have you ever tried to give this test on older machines?  Slow internet?




Brooks, J. G., & Brooks, M. G. (2001). In Search of Understanding. The Case for Constructivist Classrooms. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Gelb, M. J. (1998). How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day. New York, NY: Bantam Dell.

Jensen, E. (2009). Teaching with Poverty in MInd. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Smith, F. (1998). The Book of Learning and Forgetting. New York, New York: Teacher College Press.

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