Reflection on lesson planning

My students

Lesson planning for me has been different this year because I teach in an alternative education program called sophomore connections. My students earned less than 3 of the 8 possible credits they could have earned their freshman year and the program is supposed to be an intervention to help make sure they graduate on time. The students have a wide variety of reasons for being credit deficient but for most of them a big issue was/is attendance. Because my students have had spotty attendance for years many of them have significant knowledge gaps. To deal with this I often make sure to at least mention basic concepts that I may have previously assumed high school students would know. I also have been intentional about repeated practice on science skills (graphing, basic math, etc.) Doing these things is helping but it isn’t perfect especially because we have students who still don’t attend even with us.

I’ve also found that many of my students lack confidence in their abilities. One of the things I am trying to do is increase the amount of inquiry in my classroom. One of my favorite science resources are the simulations available from the University of Colorado’s Phet program I like these because they model things that I can’t show in class because it is either inconvenient or impossible. When using these I will write directions (or use some other teachers have made) that encourage the students to play with things and determine rules. I find that my students don’t like the lack of structure that a direction like “play” provides and frequently ask me if what they came up with is correct. With time and repeated experience most have gotten more comfortable but are still not completely confident.

Unpacking standards

In Salem-Keizer we are transitioning to implementing the next generation science standards (NGSS) and in support of that the district actually unpacked the standards for the new freshman and sophomore science courses which I have linked below because I find them really helpful.

Salem-Keizer deconstructed standards:

Physical and chemical systems

Biological systems

The standards to be covered are presented in a possible sequence with a time line and while some might feel that is a little to prescriptive I like the structure that it provides. As much as I like what the district has provided I am still a little concerned with standards like:

HS-ESS1-1. Develop a model based on evidence to illustrate the life span of the sun and the role of nuclear fusion in the sun’s core to release energy that eventually reaches Earth in the form of radiation.

Because while I understand this information (and am actually teaching it in my class right now)  I’m still not really sure what a model that a student develops should look like.  I’m hoping that by taking some time to look through these standards this summer I will be able to come up with something but am certainly looking to see what other teachers are doing with this.



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