“The greatest enemy of understanding is coverage.” -Howard Gardner Help!!

So here I am, back at it again after a well-deserved break in Kauai.

Tuesday’s PGD class was interesting as well as productive. It was the first time that I felt encouraged when it was time to go (as opposed to feeling frustrated).

So is it because I am in a different place in terms of seeing the potential of technology in my practice or because the night seemed better organized and there was a clear structure to the proceedings?? A bit of both I suspect.

A personal break-through has occurred; I have signed up for Twitter and am following some really informative science sites. I also have glommed onto Joe Bower’s blog which is where I found this posting with the Gardner quote. Covering content is an issue I struggle with daily in my Science 10 class. Science 10 has a Provincial exam at the end worth 20 % of the students mark. The content is broad and, as a consequence, is covered with very little depth. I feel that by the end of the course there are quite a few students left running for the bus.

This past week is a perfect illustration of the challenge. It’s chemistry time.

Now, when I was in high school I sucked at chemistry.  I really get that it’s hard for some kids to understand and I am sure that this influences how I teach the subject (in a positive way). Never-the-less I find myself grinding my teeth by the end of the week at many students lack of understanding in spite of  the different ways I approach the task. Do I plow through it so it is a painless as possible or do I spend the whole alloted time on the basics??

I have chats with myself on a regular basis, trying to convince myself to do the right thing. Chats about making sure students “get” the basics of naming and writing formulas for ionic and covalent compounds before moving on to writing equations. But,  there is only so much time and some students are fine with it but others have given up. If I go over it again, I am losing all of the kids and how am I going to “cover”the next material?

So, I have decided to postpone equations (in discussion with a colleague) and move on to something that most students will find success with. The students who still do not get the basics of formulas will be able to participate in some extra help sessions and be reassessed.

How does this relate to the reflection assignment? I am going to make the blog public and see if other science teachers have ideas that can help me resolve the issues of content coverage, accountability and learning.

I have learned that I am not alone in my struggle and I know there a generous teachers that can help me with their own successes.

PS Also hooked up with Solution Tree via a PLC in my school (something I signed up for but would never have looked at before taking this course). I will be attending a conference later this month and will keep you posted when I find out anything useful.

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