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.


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Powerful New Resource For Teachers – A BotU Lesson Planner

 Posted by DrJeff on September 3rd, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog


It’s a new school year, and teachers are going back to the classroom in tough times. I wanted to do something to help. I’ve missed some posts this week because I was concentrating on a new Blog on the Universe Resource Page titled Teacher’s Lesson Planner for BotU Posts.


I created this Blog with teachers and parents in mind. The goal for all Posts and Resource Pages is to provide a creative new way of looking at science—conceptual understanding at an emotional level. I write each post recognizing that if done well, teachers can use it as a lesson in the classroom.


The Lesson Planner is designed as a one-stop shop for teachers where they can look through a list of all posts, sorted by general category, e.g., climate change, or Solar System content, and for each post see the essential question, concepts addressed, learning objectives, math skills required, and any special features of that post. The Lesson Planner is designed to be a powerful entry point into the Blog’s content for all teachers—and parents. My hope is that it will allow the posts to be put to work to inspire and educate our children.


Here now is the Teacher’s Lesson Planner Page.  Let me know what you think!


Finally, our teachers need all the support we can give them. If you feel it appropriate, please pass on the following essay The Art of Teaching to teachers everywhere. I wrote it to inspire the new teacher, to reaffirm to the seasoned professional why we went into teaching in the first place … and to celebrate the joys and rewards of the teaching profession.


Teachers and parents are the link between the current generation and the next. Teaching is something that we as a species of explorers must cherish, for without it we could not stand on the shoulders of past generations and see to the current horizon of knowledge.


For hopefully a poetic view of how teaching fits within the larger landscape of human exploration, read the essay The Nature of Our Existence.


As always,

Dr. Jeff