Teaching students to be creative is a major part of the
curriculum in my classroom. The
lessons taught in my classroom on a daily basis emphasize creativity by
allowing students to perform labs, color and draw, as well as many other
activities. For example, one
lesson we had students work on a few weeks ago was to invent an Alien real
estate company and sell properties on the different planets in our solar
system. Students were required to
create a brochure and write a persuasive essay in order to convince their peers
in class why their property on their planet was best suited to meet their
needs. Activities such as this one
allows students to learn the material while having fun doing so. Science can be extremely boring for a
lot of students, but a successful teacher finds ways for the students to have
fun while learning the content.

While teaching these same labs and activities, students will
be challenged to think critically and solve problems. Not only are students thinking critically while conducting
labs, they also are required to answer a challenging daily warm-up
question. One example of how we
teach students to think critically in my classroom came when I was discussing
features of our ocean. I decided
to do a discrepant event in my classroom called, “Ocean in a bottle.” The experiment is a great example of a
processing activity. During the
experiment, I filled a 32 oz. bottle halfway full of water and a few inches of
sand on the bottom. I took a
thermometer and placed it in the middle of the sand. I told the students that I would be shaking the bottle for 5
minutes and asked them whether they thought the water would warm up or cool
down. The students were required
to write their answers on a piece of paper. Secondly, I asked students what type of energy was being
displayed. I then asked students
to tell me where in our environment this action occurs. I continued to ask different questions
until the students were able to figure out the correct answers.

Communication, discussion, and collaboration happen on a
daily basis in my classroom.
Students work in groups while conducting lab experiments, projects, as
well as other activities. While I
am teaching a lesson, I will frequently ask students to ask their partner what
they think about a particular topic.
I will also ask students to tell their partner what they think the
correct answer is. After students
talk amongst themselves, I will then facilitate an entire class discussion
about the topic.

As an educator, I think one area where I could improve is
allowing my students the ability to conduct more research and activities
online. The majority of the
lessons I teach are taught in a classroom that lacks computers and other
helpful technological tools. For the
particular Alien lesson, students were able to work in the computer lab for two
hours to obtain the information they needed to complete the assignment. I think I would implement more media
centered activities if the school had more resources. On two occasions, I was fortunate enough to be able to take
my class to the computer lab to access information. Other than the two times in my class, students have only
been able to utilize computers at school at their leisure.

Information literacy is extremely important in my
class. Often times, students are
required to read newspaper articles about a specific topic that we are covering
in class and by using an AVID strategy (NEWS, Noteworthy, Evidence, What does
it have to do with me, and Science connection) are able to write about the main
ideas. We then, as an entire
class, discuss those ideas on how they are related to what we are doing in the
classroom.

We try to teach the students autonomy whenever
possible. Students need to develop
ways on how they can think independently.
The warm-up questions we ask students every morning on done
independently. After all students
have received a stamp for achieving the correct answer, we then discuss the
topic as a class. Homework
assignments and certain worksheet activities are completed independently. For the homework assignments, students
are given nine different assignments where they are asked to pick three to
complete. Only one of the nine
assignments weekly has to be completed.
For the rest of the assignments, students are given the opportunity to
choose which other two they would like to complete. Group settings are also encouraged in our classroom. In a few years, the majority of the
students will be entering the work force and it is important that we allow
students to develop as “team” players.
Students work together as a team in our classroom to complete labs and
certain activities. I think it is
important for me to allow students to work to their strengths. For example, students were able to
decide amongst themselves which part of the Alien assignment they would
complete. Some students really
wanted to use their creative skills to draw the brochure while other students
used their creative strengths and chose to write the persuasive essay. I believe it is extremely important to give
students choices, allow them to be creative, and to teach them how to
effectively use technology because all of these skills will be used throughout
their entire lives.

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