Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Summer School Blues

My daughter Sol while we were in Spain.  
This is exactly how I feel right now, 
a bit overwhelmed, but excited to get 
back into my teaching groove. 
So I have been an educator for the past eight years and never have I once taught summer school.  Since I was always teaching throughout the academic school year, summer was my time to take a break, unwind, and enjoy the simple things in life like sleeping in late, hearty breakfasts, poolside tans, and family field trips to the zoo or local park.  This year I decided to take the plunge and give it a shot.  Why you ask? Not because I am insane (or at least that's what I believe), but because I want to ensure that I am always rooted to how teachers feel deep in the trenches of their classroom since my current position is at the district level.  I want to make sure my strategies are still sharp and I still have the magic teaching touch!

I will be teaching an EOC prep class for students who did not master the Biology End of Course (EOC) exam along with a Biology class for students who did not pass the course and just need credit.  I plan to conduct the class 100% hands-on and inquiry based focusing not on teacher-centered lectures (because this obviously did not work the first time) but instead inquiry based science labs and problem/project based learning, commonly called PBLs.  My only enemy will be time.  I have a year's worth of curriculum to jam pack into 16 half day sessions.   So I have decided to omit most supporting Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) an only focus on 16 Readiness standards which leaves me to teach one TEK a day!   I started creating a calendar to ensure I keep on track with my tight schedule, which leads me to my second problem...budget.  Apparently science school has NO BUDGET!  Are you kidding me?  One of the main science process TEKS is that 40% of the class should consist of student labs.  This is a little hard to do with NO BUDGET!  Looks like some of my hard earned cash for summer school will be going right back into education as I prepare to spend on much needed lab items since I cannot even fathom teaching a Biology class without hands-on labs!

When I was in the classroom I took teaching and learning for granted and although I had lots of hands on activities and labs, I still felt my classroom was fairly teacher-centered and a bit too structured.  I am hoping to try new things in summer school such as PBLs and having the students have more of a major role in grading their own assessments and reflecting on their progress day by day. Ultimately I am hoping for an engaging, fun, out-of-the box type of learning experience that will motivate my students to love science again (a trait I believe they lost in middle school somewhere) where I am a facilitator and my students take center stage in their own learning!  

Please follow me on twitter @aguzmanscience for the month of June where I will be tweeting out daily biology labs and activities my students are working on!  I am hoping to inspire other educators along the way and provide innovative activities and strategies that can be stolen.

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