Saturday, November 10, 2012

Another update: Saturday, November 10th, 2012

Update! Just this week I went to the EdTech Teacher iPad Summit at Harvard Med School. After two days surrounded by people immensely excited by how iPads (and other handheld devices) can and will change the face of education, I felt it was time to not just update my RET blog but to start another (which ps, I wouldn't have felt so comfortable with if I hadn't spent time this summer on the RET blog)!

 Below is more-or-less the same post I put as my first post in the new blog:

So, my Anatomy class will be getting iPads to use 24 hrs a day starting second semester and in preparation for that I am trying to use the communal iPad cart our school has as often as I can get my hands on it (which isn't all that often since I work with lots of other motivated and creative people also using the cart) and working closely with the other 5 teachers and memebers of the tech department involved in the pilot. We meet weekly, give each other ideas, and generally talk, blog, email, and google-doc our experiences. 

Anyway after two days at the conference two themes in particular hit home: 
1) We need more time to do this well. Particularly time to play with it and get crazy new ideas and to share apps and ideas with each other. It seems a lot of administrators at the conference think teachers are resisting the iPad idea because they are stodgy or uncreative or afraid of losing control. In talking to teachers however, the problem seems to be more of one of time and support. Saying 'we support you with the iPad" is one thing. Devoting paid time to play with apps, develop new ideas, practice is another. 

2) The SAMR model:
This basically said that iPads can be introduced into the classroom in many ways. The least helpful way (and most annoying way in my opinion) is just to replace things. In some cases to replace things that already work or we already do well (i.e. take notes on this app instead of on paper - this hasn’t worked well in chemistry so far). Although this can be fun and it can reduce paper, this is not the best way to use the iPad. The real goal is to use iPads to do things we’ve never been able to do or maybe never even thought of before. I spent most of the conference taking notes on ideas I am developing rather than on just what the presenters were saying. Now I just need the time to further explore my ideas, watch videos on line, read blogs, and figure out how to make them happen!!

The best session I attended at the conference was by 4 women from NTA, all of whom are actively, currently teaching in the classroom (which, unfortunately is not who usually runs professional development sessions). These four teachers from Chicago all used the iPad in different ways. They discussed real ideas that are actually manageable and I felt could be transformative as well. Over the course of this year I hope to update this blog with some of the ideas that I 'stole' and worked with to implement in my classroom - as well as the ideas of my own that have springboarded from what I've learned. In the meantime, check out the blog of Jenni Magiera: My fellow teacher Elizabeth showed this blog to me today and we realized it was one of these amazing presenters.  

Ok -well this is a start. Until I actually have another free minute to write - have fun!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Months later..... Nov 6th, election day - 2012

As soon as the school year started life got so busy I forgot to update this blog! So here's an update on how the RET experience this summer has influenced my school year.

First of all I can't stop talking about my summer experience - to other teachers, to students, to my department head, to my friends, to everyone!

I have brought my poster to school and walked a lot of people through the research I did.

More than just talk, I have started long discussions with my classes as to what a career in research looks like. What would their day to day be like. What sort of support would they have (a research team), what challenges they might face (unexpected results, no results), what success might look like (new technologies, presented papers).

With my seniors we have talked a lot about universities that are also research institutions (like BU). One thing I learned from all of the graduate, undergraduate, and post-grad students I worked with this summer, is that is was really important for them to seek out research opportunities and connections on their own. No one will come to them at the end of a class and say 'you should join this research team' - they will have to seek out opportunities.

Aside from just enthusiasm and conversation, my involvement in the technology at the school has magnified. Our school is adopting a 1:1 iPad initiative for all our students starting Sept 2013. In the meantime I have become one of only 6 iPad Pilot teachers at the Prep. This means that I will give my students iPads for them to use 24 hrs a day, I attend weekly meetings where all the iPad teachers and a representative from our tech department discuss our successes, failures, research, and new ideas, and I engage in many online and email discussions of current literature examining iPads as a learning tool. o

Although my students don't have their iPads yet (we are looking at January), a few of the other pilot teachers are up and running. Spending this much time discussing the future of technology as a teaching tool has been exciting, daunting, and given me a huge number of ideas. For one, I have finally ordered my RET classroom supplies. Since all of the students will have iPad soon I have convinced the science department head to order the vernier software for all of the iPads going out to science students. (Gary Smith who many of you know b/c he was an RET a few years back is my department head - which, by the way, means he was REALLY easy to convince/was already planning to do it). I also used the RET funding to purchase two Spectrometers for the vernier system. They will allow students to not just look at emission spectrum with the handheld prism spectrometers, but allow them to use these sensors and have an emission spectrum appear on their devices! The software also allows for a great analysis into the Ryburg equation and Lyman series. I still have work to do to develop a solid lesson (my lesson plan that I wrote this summer needs some tweaking for real life), but I am really excited to use the spectrometers, vernier, and the ipads all together in my chemistry classes!

Here's the only problem - we just learned about Bohr, hydrogen and emission spectrum last week. We didn't have the ipads or new probes yet, so we did it with the older spectrometers. I will say my new knowledge of photonics allowed me to connect this entire experiment to the idea of measuring the unseen with light we can see (or sense) and what I did in the lab this summer imaging viruses. That added an entirely new depth to the conversation. I may not be able to use my new technological tools and toys until next fall, but in the meantime I am doing a better job with the tools I have. (With the exception of a broken nitrogen gas tube.)

Come to think of it - I wish I had taken pictures of the whole activity since a blog with no pictures is pretty boring.

Oh well! So I'm off to a good start. See you next time.
Mrs. G

Friday, August 3, 2012

Week 5 - Friday August 3rd, 2012 - Research

This week in our blog we were asked to answer three questions.

1) How has this experience changed your perspective of research?

Honestly, research is a lot like I remember it from when I worked in a lab years ago. The overall idea is amazingly interesting, and the work itself is slow and a bit monotonous. I am so impressed by the researchers in our lab who pull intensely long hours and run trial after trial perfecting their protocols, and spend hour upon hour on computers analyzing data.

2) How has it impacted your idea of your own competence in research?

As I said, the amount of time spent sitting and analyzing data can be overwhelming. I can do it - but I found myself getting antsy and cranky very easily. Anyone that has spent time with me as a teacher knows I have a LOT of energy to expend. I missed running around the classroom and interacting with hundreds of people a day.

Although research is a group experience, nothing compares to teaching over 100 high school students on any given day!

3) How do you envision changes in your own classroom as a result of this experience.

I will be making sure they are much more meticulous during lab experiments. They tend to speed through things and they often have no idea how important it is to take solid, legible notes.

I also cannot wait to impart on them how everything they are learning in chemistry (significant figures, algebra, scientific notation, solutions, dilutions, measuring skills, unit conversion and dimensional analysis, the metric system, logs, etc.) are absolute necessities to surviving in the scientific community. I have said it all along, but I now have more evidence to back it up!

Week 5 - Friday August 3rd, 2012 - My RET Website

This week we had to create a website for our RET experience.

Here's a link to mine:

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Week 4 - Thursday July 26th, 2012 - The Clean Room

This Tuesday and last all of the RETs had time in the clean room! Below you see Valerie and I in our bunny suits. We have to wear these to protect the products we are making and using in the cleanroom. With the suits on it is very unlikely any skin or hair or other debris will fall from our bodies onto what we are working with!

We are taking the large silicon wafers seen below and eventually turning them into chips with some Prep school spirit on them!

The schematic to the right explains what we have done to the wafer. Read the schematic top down. First we applied photoresist. Then we placed a mask (essentially a stencil with my Prep pride) on the wafer and irradiated it with UV light. The light broke down the photoresist that was not blocked by the stencil, thus putting my design onto the wafer.  The next week we did deposition (the machine below does this step). In deposition we deposit titanium and then gold on top of our wafer. This seems to wipe out our design but after a dip in an acetone bath and shaker, the gold brushes off the unexposed area - leaving our original design.      Next week you will see the final product - for now I need to go back to analyzing data in MatLab. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Week 3 - Friday July 20th, 2012 - The Full Length Feature Film

And now... the full length feature film you've all been waiting for......

                      The RET Experience!!!
                                                by Stephanie Giglio and Valerie Ordway


As it turns out, our lab made a professional film of their own recently. To see their film, done for the Journal of Visualized Experiments, click on this --> Click here for a Video Publication from our lab!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Week 3 - Tuesday July 17th, 2012 - the Trailer!

So... by the end of the week Valerie and I will have a video out that will explain and demonstrate some of the AWESOME SCIENCE we are doing every day.... Here's a little trailer for you....