SED 406

Originally posted to main page 5/2

SED 406

Prof. Kraus

This assessment is for a Biology lesson from a classroom observation.

The lesson appeared to be the introduction of a unit on Carbon Molecules

SED 406:  Observation Assignment #4

In this observation assignment, your goal is to create an assessment for the lesson you observed. Please write a 10 minute quiz that will determine if students can meet the objective.

*Remember, it’s about 1 minute for multiple choice and matching, 3-5 minutes for problems and short essays.

1)   What do you think the objective is?

 The students will identify the 4 major categories of organic molecules

The students will describe the similarities and differences between the 4 categories of organic  molecules

2) What level of Bloom’s Taxonomy is that?

It appeared to be knowledge and comprehension.

2)   How will you assess it in 10 minutes or less?

See attached.  4 multiple choice, and 2 short written answer questions.

Viv’s Formative Assessment: Carbon based Molecules

(Red indicates correct answers)

Multiple choice

1.              Glucose is a Carbohydrate.  Describe its primary function in a cell.

a.     provides energy
b.     builds proteins
c.     builds DNA
d.     breaks down lipids

2.              What is the difference between Carbohydrates and Lipids?

a.     Carbohydrates provide immediate energy to cells, Lipids are used to form proteins
b.     Carbohydrates form DNA and Lipids provide immediate energy to cells
c.     Carbohydrates provide immediate energy to cells, Lipids are stored energy
d.     Carbohydrates are stored energy, Lipids provide immediate energy to cells

3.              What type of molecule do Hydrogen, Carbon and Oxygen form?

a.     Lipid
b.     DNA
c.     Nucleic acid
d.     Glucose

4.              How are Nucleic Acids different from other organic molecules?

a.     They don’t contain Carbon
b.     They have a sense of humor
c.     They have only one function
d.     They form fatty acids

Write your answers in one to 2 sentences:

5.              The body can store Lipids for fat.  What are 3 things the body can use this fat for?

      (insulation, generating heat, protecting and/or supporting vital organs, energy supply)

6.              Why is Carbon often called the building block of life?  Name the 4 main carbon based molecules found in living things.

      (All organisms are made of carbon based molecules, they carry out most of the functions that keep living things alive.  Carbohydrates, Lipids, Nucleic acids, Proteins)          

(Originally posted to main page 4/21.  Please see main page for comments)

Hey fellow classmates.  I didn't think to leave my thoughts on how I feel my lesson went. . .I don't think the "skeleton" of the plan was very strong.  That said, I always would like a second chance to do a better job.  I need to figure out a format in which to present the information, it was disorganized.   I do like the topic, but this plan needs work. So please leave your comments regarding my manner, whether I gave you enough time to think, etc. here.  (Seriously, don't hold back I would really appreciate your help).  And sorry about the pink marker Caroline!

(Originally posted to main page 4/27)

RISTA Conference: The Dimensions of Science  

SED 406

RISTA  2014 Conference:

The Dimensions of Science

Last Saturday, 3/1, I attended the Rhode Island Science Teachers Association Conference.
Amy Leidtke was the keynote speaker.   Her presentation “Empowering Children and Teachers though Design” was terrific.  She is an internationally renowned and award winning industrial designer, with an impressive resume.  Currently teaching at RISD, she was recently involved in the RISD initiative STEM to STEAM.   It’s purpose is to integrate Art Design with education and research in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.  With my background this was really quite interesting and inspiring.  I am thrilled at the idea of marrying art and design with any discipline.  I am particularly excited about how I might apply my background in art to my certification in teaching Biology.  

Following the opening, there were three 45 minute time blocks, with 4 topics to choose from within each.  A fairly typical conference format.  My first choice was an unexpected mini lecture on buoyancy conducted by my advisor, Paul Tiskus.  I was one of 3 attendees, and it was fun, intimate and I learned something. 

The second seminar I attended seemed a bit out of place.  The presenter used audience members to demonstrate the use of games (his) in learning.  That’s about all I can say about it, except that a few of us are now plastered all over this gentleman’s website.  (Unfortunately for us, we did sign a release).  

Before lunch, I wandered through the handful of vendors displaying learning kits, games and books. There was a three dimensional printer on hand, and if you’ve not seen one in action, the implications for industrial design and plastic prototyping is pretty exciting.  I was, however, in the “student” head space, so I was much more interested in the presentations.

At lunch, I was invited to join 3 teachers I had met earlier at the event opening. They teach different grades in different elementary schools, but each was kind enough to invite me to come visit.  

The final seminar I choose was “Exploring the New Generation Science Standards.”  Dr Kraus and two RI High School teachers conducted a question and answer session on this “hot” topic.  Having just dissected these standards for class, it was interesting to hear opinions and concerns over how they will affect teaching content today and moving forward.  Needless to say the atmosphere was a little heated.  Personally I like the idea of cross-content, demonstrating understanding, and application  but I haven’t had to put it to practice yet.

Overall it was an interesting day.  I got a taste of the Rhode Island Science teaching community, I met some new people, and am committed to attending at least one day at the National Conference in Boston later this spring.  All good things.

(Originally posted  to main page 4/2)

SED 406

Prof. Kraus

CFHS Observation #3:  Backwards to a Lesson Plan.

Once again I had the honor of observing a master in action.  Mr. U has a terrific community in his classroom.  The rules and norms are stated clearly on the walls.  His objectives are on the white board.  J and I entered the room with class already in session.  Students were gathering information.  This approach appeared to one of indirect teaching.  Students gather information first, and this results in inquiry at the end.  I couldn’t take notes fast enough.  This teacher has very clear ideas on what he believes should be taught in High School.


Originally posted to main page 3/7

SED 406

Prof. Kraus

Observation 2:  Classroom Management
Prior to getting to our classrooms we had the opportunity to meet with a “Vice Principal Candidate” working at the school.  Quite honestly, I do not remember everything we talked about.  I do however remember the classroom experience.

J and I entered a class already in session.  Students were making flashcards for a topic of which they were not yet familiar.  It was the beginning of a unit on Mitosis.  The teacher had preselected some music on Pandora and it was playing softly in the background.  She later told us that she used it as a motivator, and it helps the kids stay on task.  During tests, she plays Mozart.  I like her.

Students who were finished were moving around the room, the teacher was paying attention to some, while eyeing the others.  At intervals she would let the class know how much time they had left to complete their work.  This appeared to effectively keep everyone on task.  She asked those who were done to assists their classmates.

One student uttered a foul word and she addressed it quickly but simply with her teacher voice: “Language!”

Another student was unable to sit still.  More than once he left the room, going out into the hallway then returning.  He was talking loudly enough to be disruptive.  It appeared for the most part the teacher was ignoring him, perhaps to avoid escalating the situation.  I was actually quite impressed by her.  I had the impression that she knew these students well, and and was, at least on this day, unflappable. 

She later told us that the fidgeting student had an IEP, and was allowed to move around.  It helped him from becoming bored.  Not something we could assess as observers.

Following the flashcards, Ms. S. introduced the unit on Mitosis.  Using slides as prompts and minimal  vocabulary, she lay the groundwork.  In addition to calling on particular students for answers, she allowed them to interject with questions and answers.  At one point she was clear and direct, simply stating “if it’s in red, write it down”.  The class seemed engaged, and again my impression was she knew her students.  On two occasions she presented them with extra credit opportunities.  These options did not appear to be planned.  I think it was an effective method for coralling any “wanderers” back to the task at hand.  This teacher firmly maintained control without an iron fist.

The period was ending.  Prior to dismissal Ms S wrote 2 questions on the board that the students needed to answer as their “exit ticket”.  These were to be turned in, and then they were allowed to leave.  In this manner she was able to take attendance, and get a pre assessment of whether the class followed her introduction to Mitosis.

I felt the teacher was very attentive to the time, and to the topic she was attempting to cover in the class period.  The students appeared to understand what was expected of them.  They followed her directives, completed their exit tickets, and were dismissed.

J and I had a moment to speak with her after class.  This was her 3rd year.  Her job was not an easy one, but she said she loved it.

This experience was different than the first class J and I observed on a previous visit, but for the learning level, it appeared that the teacher managed this group well.

Not having been in many classrooms  I found myself focusing on the immediate "small picture" of management rather than the bigger picture meaning behind my observations.

In our debriefing, Mr L. talked about how one established the rules of the “Classroom Community”  Both informative and useful.  Mr. L spoke a bit about using class time and a class discussion to establish mutually agreed upon rules of behavior, rather than dictating behavior.  This leaves the required room for acknowledging what is acceptable and what is not.  On the trip back to RIC this was explored further, and I found myself making note that I would add researching “Establishing classroom rules in High School” to my to do list. And in response to Dr. K’s question, yes I would take 3 days (or more) to work out a classroom community “constitution”.  Effective learning needs the safety of a classroom community. 


Originally posted to main page 2/14

Observations at Central Falls High School #1

I have to admit, our first trip to CFHS, was a bit of a dream come true.  I had an agenda.  I was secretly hoping to observe a specific teacher.  I had come across his name on more than one occasion and was curious.  Needless to say when J and I were given our assignment and it was his class, I was quite pleased. 

Off we headed down empty halls, passing artwork, and closed doors of classes in session.

Our entrance into the room mid class caused no visible interruption.  There were approximately 20 teenagers, a fairly equal mix of black and Latino students.  The dress was casual, with most students wearing jeans.  

The room itself was lively and colorful.  There were three individual signs by the main entrance:
On the other side of the same door were two more large signs.  The first titled “Habits of good readers.”  The second sign read:
Scattered around the room were visual aids, anatomical diagrams with callouts, and student art.  There was an aquarium with an Iguana, next to it was a rabbit, and across the room was a screened container with germinating seeds.  All signs of a learner centered classroom.

Mr. U was energetically describing the reproductive system of the human body.  He was quick and engaging, and the students, were entertained but actively listening and responding to his rapid fire questions.  He addressed them as Mr. A or Ms. C.   He would call on a particular student, but they were raising their hands as well.  Mr. U shared anecdotes and personal stories to help his students relate to the material.  Following this spirited exchange, Mr. U directed the students to work in groups.  They were to identify the 6 different Human body systems that were projected at the front of the room.  I took the opportunity to sit with a lone student just to my left.  I introduced myself, and she did the same.  She proceeded to share a bit about her feelings for the class.  She liked this teacher, his style.  She had a quiet confidence, and ambition evidenced by her future goals of going to college, and becoming a nurse.  She showed me her answers.  They were visible, measurable and correct.
Moments later, the class was dismissed the next one entered.  Two students arrived late.  Mr. U looked at the first and said “I know where you were” then turned to the other and said “you can tell me your excuse after school”  There was no protest from either one.  Mr. U proceeded to hit the class with a knowledge based question that was projected on the board at the front of the room.  He followed with a second question based on comprehension of the first.  This teacher didn’t miss a beat.  He was in complete control. His students knew the rules of his domain and none of them challenged it.  The 3 students I spoke with all agreed that it was both his personality and his teaching style that they liked.

J and I left this class room and dropped in on the one across the hall.  Also a science class, there were at most 5 kids in this class.  It seemed that these students were struggling a bit with the material and with school.  They were being quite vocal about their dislike of school and that they wouldn’t be there if they didn’t have to be.  It did feel as if this indignancy was at least in part for our benefit.

J and I had seated ourselves on either side of a young male black student.  In spite of the comments being expressed by his classmates, this student was quietly studying the answers to an evolution worksheet.  I believe they were about to take a test.  I asked him if he understood the material he was working on.  He said yes.  I asked if he liked school, and he replied no.  I asked why.  He answered with one word.  “Necap”.  He then asked what I was doing.  I told him about my degree in biology but that I had been an artist for a long time, and that I hoped to become a biology teacher.  We talked about animation and gaming.  His plan was to start at CCRI, and then transfer to RIC.  He wanted to become a police officer.  

There were solid connections between the topics and methods being addressed in my RIC education classes and what I observed at Central Falls High School on Wednesday.   Although we had missed the beginning of his class Mr. U shared with us that each of his students had received a guide at the beginning of the unit, and that earlier in the week the students did presentations.  On this day Mr. U was reviewing the material, had the students study the information again in groups, and then individually complete a quiz. Mr. U's class reflected a direct teaching method.  The interactions I had with individual students were encouraging.  They talked comfortably about their dreams.  For myself this was a rewarding experience, and I look forward to our future visits to CFHS.


SED 406

Prof. Kraus
Central Falls High School

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”   Margaret Mead  

I have lived in Rhode Island for much of my adult life.  I raised a daughter here.  I had the privilege to chose to live in a community where I could have my dream: a home, a studio for my art, 2 dogs in the yard and good schools for my daughter. 

I know little of Central Falls.  I certainly did not know about the National attention it had been receiving, and not just regarding the school system.  The LA Times stated “Central Falls” was “widely held up as a national worst-case scenario” regarding “drastic benefit cuts” for public employees due to underfunded pensions. (2013)

But this is about Central Falls High School (CFHS).  The Annenberg Institute at Brown University cited CFHS as being one of the “lowest achieving schools”  in the country. (Jan. 2013).  By federal law, it was required to choose one of “four intervention models: turnaround, restart, school closure, or transformation.”  The transformation model was the chosen option with the goal to: “increase the graduation rate, increase mathematics proficiency rates and improve the culture and climate of the school”.  (Annenberg Institute, Jan 2010, Para. 1)  Implementation of the transformation was a struggle.  Negotiations between the school board, school superintendent, and the teachers’ union failed resulting in the firing of the principal, 3 assistant principals and 77 teachers.  Not surprisingly this made national news.

Fast forward to 2014.  Many of the teachers were rehired. Test scores are improving as is teacher morale.  (Harrison, Dec. 2013)   CFHS is also offering community programs to help the families and younger children of Central Falls.  As a RIC undergrad or graduate student, there are opportunities to tutor at CFHS in every subject.  The school is committed to moving forward.  And the more I read the more remarkable my impression of this school becomes.

But it has been a long time since I have been in a traditional high school classroom.  I do not know what to expect.  My High School experience was not great.  My family went on a sabbatical  during my 10th grade, so by the time 11th grade arrived, I did not “belong”.  I studied hard, and if I wasn't in class I was avoiding the roaming groups of kids looking for someone to bully and I never once went into the school cafeteria for the same reason.  Somehow I imagine walking the halls of CFHS will feel similar to what one sees in entertainment and film.  A little bit of everything.  But in the classroom I hope to see a learner centered environment.  My focus is Biology, and I would be thrilled to observe Ric alumnus David Upequi.  A year ago, this biology teacher was the recipient of one of 13 Amgen Awards.  He was chosen for his “outstanding ability to inspire (his) students and produce results in science education”. (RIC News, june 2013)  And it appears there is an Iguana in his room.  And I love Iguanas!

You can read more about Upequi on the RIC educational news page,

1 comment:

  1. Viv, you have a teacher's heart!