Goals for my Science Class this Year. – (http://wp.me/p17e1J-7a)

Over the last 2 years, I have been implementing a few simple ingredients from the Next Generation Science Standards. This year I am going to make a much bigger jump into the standards. For those who are not familiar with the NGSS, a major goal behind it is to help students think like a scientist, do science, and figure things out. Here is a list as to what thinking like a scientist, doing science, and figuring things out looks like. This list is called Practices for K-12 Science Classrooms. (Image from http://www.nextgenscience.org/three-dimensions Dimension 1: Practices)


These practices are also the type of skills that are needed to think critically and could even define the term, critical thinking.

I also plan to use Cross Cutting Concepts (Dimension 2) of science and engineering. These concepts are:

  1. Patterns. Observed patterns of forms and events guide organization and classification, and they prompt questions about relationships and the factors that influence them.
  2. Cause and effect: Mechanism and explanation. Events have causes, sometimes simple, sometimes multifaceted. A major activity of science is investigating and explaining causal relationships and the mechanisms by which they are mediated. Such mechanisms can then be tested across given contexts and used to predict and explain events in new contexts.
  3. Scale, proportion, and quantity. In considering phenomena, it is critical to recognize what is relevant at different measures of size, time, and energy and to recognize how changes in scale, proportion, or quantity affect a system’s structure or performance.
  4. Systems and system models. Defining the system under study—specifying its boundaries and making explicit a model of that system—provides tools for understanding and testing ideas that are applicable throughout science and engineering.
  5. Energy and matter: Flows, cycles, and conservation. Tracking fluxes of energy and matter into, out of, and within systems helps one understand the systems’ possibilities and limitations.
  6. Structure and function. The way in which an object or living thing is shaped and its substructure determine many of its properties and functions.
  7. Stability and change. For natural and built systems alike, conditions of stability and determinants of rates of change or evolution of a system are critical elements of study.

(The list above was taken from http://www.nextgenscience.org/three-dimensions Dimension 1: Crosscutting Concepts.)

I have dreamed of leading my students to become critical thinkers and science literate. This is the path I will follow to achieve my goal. Good or bad, the plan is to reflect often and share progress, obstacles, triumphs, and failures.

– If I make the time.🙂

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Transitioning to an NGSS Classroom: Starting simple — http://wp.me/p17e1J-70

Pedagogically speaking I am new to the NGSS and I am in a state that decided to write their “own standards” (almost carbon copies of the Next Generation Science Standards). The standards are so close to the NGSS that I feel comfortable saying they are NGSS standards

As a result of my NGSS “newbieness” I am starting at a basic level for my NGSS focus this year with my students. My focus is evidence-based thinking (EBT). Although EBT is the foundation of science/critical thinking. Helping students develop thinking skills instead of guessing the right answer is a major shift, at least for many of the students I work will.

For example: What do you observe in the image below?


At the beginning of the school year students responses to the question might include:

“A tree, a tree in a field,” and if I’m lucky “a tree in a field in the fall.”

“How do you know it is a tree?” I ask

“Because I can see it is a tree!”

“What is your evidence?”

“I know what a tree looks like and that is a tree.”

At this point students have not supplied evidence and some of the students are annoyed with my questioning. To be fair I do bait them a bit and if I gave more precise instructions, the task I ask of them would be much easier to complete.

So then I ask the question again. List some observations about this image. Possible responses from students might include: There is a tree, the tree is in a field, the tree has red/orange/yellow leaves.

My followup question would be, “What is your evidence there is a tree in the image” –

“I can see it.”

“What about it tells you it is a tree?”

Finally I start to hear things like, leaves, branches, a trunk. They might tell me about the color of the leaves and how they vary in hue on the same branch.

I feel starting the year this way to help students see that evidence is simple. Evidence does not need to be a Law-and-Order smack-down that sends everyone into a whirlwind because of the profoundness of the evidence. More times than not the evidence for a claim is painfully obvious. This can be tricky for some students because they feel they are wasting their time. It is a necessary step however.

So what is next? Practice is key. Once students begin to recognize evidence for the obvious things like images or various objects we can start to visit more complex things like concepts and hypotheses.

We will see how it goes.

Suggestions and feedback are encouraged.  

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So Comes the Start of #SciStuChat for 2015-2016 School Year. (http://wp.me/p17e1J-6R)

We are thrilled to announce our first #SciStuChat of the school year will be a collaboration with the US Department of Energy. With the help of NSTA (National Science Teachers Association) the DoE reached out and asked if we would be willing to co-host a Twitter chat about bio-energy on the #SciStuChat hashtag. We jumped at the chance to work with the Department of Energy and their wealth of resources and connections.


For those who are unfamiliar with #SciStuChat you can learn more at scistuchat.com but here are some of the basics. Sci = scientists. Stu = Students (high school). Chat = Twitter synchronous discussion using a hashtag.  The discussions were first organized in 2011 and have continued once a month between Sept and May of the school year. Topics have covered Earth Science, ie, volcanoes, tornadoes, black holes. Life science ie, cloning, evolution, sharks. Physical science, ie, green chemistry and everything in between.


All high school students are invited to participate along with their science teachers. Science/STEM minded professionals ex, scientists, science writers, engineers, technology, mathematicians, and anyone with strong energy toward science and science education are also encouraged to join the discussion whether or not they are experts on the topic for that month. Science thinkers are all we really need.

The monthly discussion takes place on the 2nd Thursday of each month at 9 pm Eastern Time. The chat runs for an hour using the #scistuchat hashtag on Twitter. If you are not familiar with how to use a hashtag to facilitate a discussion or how to participate, check out the video below.

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Twitter in high school, a short journey. – http://wp.me/p17e1J-6O

Below are links to several of my blog posts that document many of the benefits for using Twitter (social media in general) in the high school classroom. Some of the links also show the steps myself and others took in our school district to encourage the unblocking of Twitter.

  • Benefits of Social Media in class. – http://wp.me/p17e1J-5Z vine instagram twitter
  • Twitter finally unblockd in my school district. http://wp.me/p17e1J-5y includes benefits to students and the process I went through to keep pushing the district.
  • This Google Hangout On Air was only possible because of the connections I was able to make on twitter. http://wp.me/p17e1J-4s
  • Twitter can provide on the spot connection with experts http://wp.me/p17e1J-3A
  • You might concider sitting down with the super and show them the benefits by hand – if you have the time. – This is what I would show them http://wp.me/p17e1J-38 3 ways to use twitter. Without an account, with an accout, with an account and actually tweeting.
  • Points for trying to convince my district to unblock Twitter. http://wp.me/p17e1J-2h – there is a chance you have already covered these topics with your higher-ups but thought it might help anyway.
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Suspended, blocked, and lock accounts Oh My – How can we get our students signed up on Twitter?

If you have attempted to get your students sign up for Twitter accounts at the beginning of the school year in class you know that it can be a huge pain.

Some of the problems include…

  • Verify the account with a phone number when the students already had an account linked to that phone number
  • Limiting confirmation to phone number, some students don’t have cell phones, there is no confirmation through e-mail.
  • On the rare chance you can use email confirmation…..
    • Twitter will tell you the email account is already being used when it actually had never been used for Twitter.
  • Twitter not allowing multiple signups from the IP address.

We realize the problems listed above are safety measures to prevent Twitter bots and computers from making mass accounts to spam all of us.  But we are still hoping to find solutions to the problems before we start the new school year.

Please share you thoughts and ideas with Joshua Marsh @jjsmarsh or myself, Adam Taylor @2footgiraffe. Or post ideas in the comments section.

If we collect solutions that work, we will post them here. 

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Scientist on Twitter: Compilation Video

(Thanks for the RT and visit but please submit a video…. Pretty please)

Hey all, I realized my little project needs a little better explanation.

Here is my original request with a short video explanation.


As you know some individuals need a little coaxing to get started on Twitter. My friend Tricia Shelton @TdiShelton and I are presenting at the NSTA conference in March. We will have several opportunities to share Twitter with science educators. One of the biggest benefits of Twitter is the easy access we get to scientists like you.

So I am asking you to make a short 10 video clip to include in a video compilation that will be shared at the conference and passed around the interwebs in the future.

How do I want the videos sent to me?

Lots of options

  • Instagram – @taylorsci
  • Vine app, but you will only have 6 seconds
  • Record on your phone and email it to me
  • Load to dropbox and share with me
  • Upload on youtube and send me the link
  • I am open to other suggestions as well
  • Contact me if you need my email address

It is important to know that the video quality isn’t a big deal. I am more concerned about the content being coherent and concise.

Please, don’t be shy, remember this is for the progress of science and for all human kind. If you have scientists friends who are willing to help, please invite them for me.🙂 Thanks to @Choosy_Female and @DoreenMcVeigh who have already submitted a 10 second clip.


Adam Taylor

ps – once the compilation is complete you are welcome to share with any and all.  

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Why Should You Broadcast Your Class Live? Parents, Students, Admin, You! -http://wp.me/p17e1J-6o

Broadcast your class live every day, every period, all day. Benefit #1 – Parents can tune in and see what their child is doing. Benefit #2 – Students who are sick at home can still learn while laying in bed, assuming they are not too sick to do so. Benefit #3 – Most broadcasting tools will simultaneously record thus providing a video archive of class events, class activities, quality of instruction, a chance to review and reflect on your own teaching methods, plus also provide the context behind class disruptions and distractions.

By the time you are done reading this you will likely have generated your own thoughts or list of benefits for broadcasting and recording class live. Please share in the comments below.

To be upfront about things, very few parents have actually watched class live. I would love if more parents would embrace the opportunity but I also realize people are busy and may not have the tech to do so. Nonetheless I still feel it is important to provide the service.

The first concern most educators have is privacy issues of students. The second concern is whether parents will allow their students to be on video. Lastly, will admin allow live video in the classroom.

Hopefully my answers to these concerns will ease your mind and bring confidence to your live broadcast pursuit. The truth is all three concerns can be answered easily. It is all about the parents. The admin I have worked with have been supportive of the things I want to do as longs as parents are on board. When I first started broadcasting I sent home a form for parents to read and sign. Basically the form asked permission to share the students image publicly. It also asked permission to share video of students working in class or participating in school events. Most parents signed the form and sent it back with students. If parents would not sign the form or indicated they did not want their child on video then I would position the student off camera. It is true that audio of the student might make it into the video and that class activities might bring the student into view temporarily. Parents realize this is the case and have been very understanding. Currently the district I teach in has an acceptable use policy which covers my classroom needs. In addition to that I have adopted an opt-out plan. Handouts go home, emails are sent, and unless I hear otherwise students will be on video. Video quality of my broadcasts also helps to add a small level of privacy. Check the video below. I have considered finding ways to add a password to the broadcast to help maintain privacy but that would make it less likely parents, students, and admin will actually check out the class. When people walk into my room I tell them to be aware that there is a live video feed and they are on camera. Most people do not mind. The ones who do mind do not stay in my room long or pretend it does not bother them.

Validity of broadcasting live doubled for me when we had a class activity and I reminded the students the video was live. Students asked if they could text the link to parents. A few parents tuned in and were actually texting back to the student and responding to some of the questions we were asking. This had been one of my goals from day one. Needless to say I was thrilled.

Broadcasting can also be used to share what is happening in your class with other parts of the school, city, state…… Last year I occasionally emailed teachers a link to the live feed so other classes would be able to watch us feed the class snakes. We have had guest speakers and video chats where other classes participated from different rooms (Google Hangouts On Air can also work as a video conference tool like skype but with Google 10 different people/classrooms can join the discussion). Some schools have used live broadcasting to share athletic events, band concerts, and poetry readings with the public. Imagine the family of a student in another part of the world tuning in to see their grandson graduate from high school. Or a father or mother serving in the military watch their child perform in the school play.

If the fun side of broadcasting class did not get you, then maybe the practical side will. -When are you being recorded on video? If you are a teacher you must assume you are always being recorded. Whether it is in the halls at school by the security cameras or in the classroom with sneaky students and their cell phones. Some teachers try to maintain an extreme level of control over device use in the class. I feel appropriate use of electronics in class is important, but it is tough to monitor everything all the time. Frankly, that type of vigilance can make a teacher go crazy and cultivate a level of mistrust between students and the teacher.

The why should I broadcast class – the “cover your butt,” side of the argument.

  • Most video recordings do not cause problems for people unless they are viewed out of  context. If you live broadcast and record your class then you have the whole context of the event or activity that might be called into question.
  • If a student claims to have been bullied or mistreated by another student you can look at the video later and see what happened.
  • Thefts can be solved as well. We were able to get a students ipod returned to them because of the video recording.
  • It is important that we stay professionals, but if you lose it for a moment or two, you will have evidence behind the outburst.
  • On the other hand, if you behave in a way that is questionable, there is video proof of the misstep. You will need to be willing to accept the consequences for things you do wrong.

It is important to keep in mind that the video doesn’t catch everything. You will need to decide when you think using the video “as proof” is necessary compared to when it is not. Just because one student threw a piece of paper does not mean you need to watch 30 min of video to catch the culprit.

Nuts and Bolts

There are a couple streaming services available to broadcast your class. I have used Ustream and LiveStream. Currently I use Google Hangouts On Air. A $20-30 USB webcamera from your local store and a Gmail/Google+ account. The quality of the video will not be the best but it will be enough to provide a decent service depending on your needs. Google Hangouts On Air automatically saves the video to your youtube channel. This is great because you can then organize playlists to post on your class website. “But I don’t want my students on youtube!” You can change the setting of videos to “unlisted” which will make the video unsearchable through youtube or google. However if you share the link to the individual video it will be viewable to anyone who has the link.

When you start a Google Hangout On Air, the live feed can be found on your Youtube channel. So on the homepage of my class website I have a link that takes viewers to my Youtube page. There they will be able to click the “live” feed.

demo for blog


To wrap up, there are lots of reasons you should live broadcast your class. Overcoming your fears of problems might be the only thing that is standing in your way. From my experience the benefits far out weigh the problems. If you need help getting started, I’m here.🙂

If you have questions or comments I would love to hear them. Thanks!

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