Powerful New BotU Teaching Resource: Teachable Moments in the News QUICK LINKS

 Posted by DrJeff on October 5th, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog



Blog on the Universe is a rather unique science education blog. It is not a content aggregator. It is not a clearinghouse or listing for educational resources and products. It is not a science news outlet where posts are specifically dedicated to coverage of the latest news stories, and once the story is old, the post is no longer useable except as a matter of historical record. It’s true that one of the five flavors of posts here at the Blog is actually called Teachable Moments in the News. But I only use a news story as the “hook” and incentive to write a post that is enduring. For example, I used the space shuttle flight in May 2009 for the repair of the Hubble Space Telescope to ask the question: “Where is outer space?” (See The Business Trip.) It is a post that will never get old.


At BotU I’m working to create posts dedicated to the understanding of powerful concepts in the Earth and space sciences—concepts that are timeless, and are directly relevant to National Science Education Standards and AAAS Benchmarks for Science Literacy. My goal is to create a ‘library’ of ‘evergreen’ posts addressing a vast range of content—posts that will be as useable 5 years from now as they are today. I’ve even created a Teachers Lesson Planner where all the posts in this library are catalogued by subject, and a quick summary provides each post’s essential questions, concepts, learning objectives, required math skills, and special features. The idea is that each post can support a lesson in the classroom that powerfully addresses curricular requirements, and more importantly—helps teachers move science education away from the memorization of irrelevant facts, and toward: critical thinking, science as process owned by the student, and conceptual understanding. (For more on my goals for this Blog, read About this Blog. For more on science education in the classroom as a model of science, read The Power of Models.)


What’s very cool about creating such a library of posts is that whenever there is a high profile news story, I can pull posts off my library shelf to help teachers explain the concepts behind the story. The result is a means of bringing current science rapidly into the classroom—in a manner relevant to the curriculum. And instead of just reporting the “What, Why, When, and Where”, you can create a Teachable Moment in the News grounded in conceptual understanding at an emotional level.


So today I’m really happy to launch a powerful new capability at Blog on the Universe, with (as always) remarkable help from my friend Drew Roman at Decisive IT. You’ll notice the box at the top of the right column labeled “Teachable Moments in the News—Quick Links to Relevant BotU Posts” (TMN Quick Links). This is a place where I’ll list current stories in the news, or upcoming celebrations, along with the links to conceptually relevant Posts and also Resource Pages here at the Blog. The TMN Quick Links box is an easy way for you to put the library here at BotU to work for you and your students by leveraging—and in support of—exciting stories in the news!


For each BotU Post listed in the TMN Quick Links box, be sure to refer to its entry in the Teachers Lesson Planner for curricular connections, and how to put the Post to work for you.


At the bottom of the TMN Quick Links box I’ve also included the entry “Latest MESSENGER Update.” I’m providing ongoing coverage of the NASA MESSENGER spacecraft mission to Mercury, which will go into orbit around the planet in March 2011. I had created an extensive Special Post for our live Web 2.0 coverage from mission control of MESSENGER’s Sept 29, 2009 flyby of Mercury. The entry in the TMN Quick Links box takes you to the MESSENGER Updates Post which is regularly updated with new information, photos, and multimedia as they become available. The Post also includes incredible Twitter archives of the the Sept 29 flyby, documenting a loss of signal near close approach to Mercury, and anxiety felt by mission controllers (in fact all of us) as we waited for the spacecraft to come out of a communications blackout with Earth. Drama too is part of science and exploration.


A special note: The TMN Quick Links box will (when appropriate) reference both Posts and Pages. Besides the Posts, this Blog also includes Resource Pages which are essays I’ve written to address larger topics than covered in a Post, e.g., The Nature of Our Existence, The Power of Models (my biased opinion—every teacher of science should read this one), Scientists and Engineers as Heroes, or The Art of Teaching. These Pages are all found in the right column in the section titled Dr. Jeff on Stuff. BotU Pages are not outlined in the Teachers Lesson Planner, but are referenced in the Planner where appropriate.


Now a request for help from you! If you want me to add a news story or celebratory event to the TMN Quick Links box, let me know! Also let me know what you think of the TMN Quick Links box as a resource by leaving a comment below.




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