Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Lest you think that all we do is attend meetings...

Yesterday, we put celery into water & food coloring to see how long it would take to move up the stalk. The textbook said to check back in 20 minutes, and I carelessly didn't test this myself, and in 20 minutes, you couldn't really see much change, so we ended up leaving them overnight. Today, though, the tips of the celery stalk were colored, and when I cut cross-sections, you could see colored dots where the xylem is. Cool!

The beans have been growing for about a week. Some groups have wonderful results, roots growing everywhere, the first leaves unfolding out of the seed coat, even a stem lengthening daily. Others have mushy beans and black mold. For the life of me I can't tell if there's a pattern behind which bags grew beans and which grew mold, or if it's just luck. I was thinking it might be better to seal the ziplock bags or maybe to purposely leave them open, but I don't detect a pattern. Suggestions welcome! In any case, I've decided to have them write a first draft of a lab report for the fast plants, and a first draft of a lab report for the bean germination, and then I will comment on both drafts and they will choose one to rewrite for a project grade and those who know they're in trouble - or who are just enthusiastic - can do both for extra credit.

This week's evidence of eighth grade laziness masquerading as, "But we thought..." Despite having done more than a dozen lab reports over the last few years, individually, despite receiving one copy of the assignment sheet per student, despite never asking me any clarifying questions, many students chose to interpret "First drafts of lab reports due Monday" as "Go ahead and just have the one responsible member of your group do all the work and turn in one project per group." Um, no. Sorry. That will be a zero, in my book, non-negotiable. You'd better have your OWN first draft tomorrow.

I'm being observed on Thursday - my formal observation. Except that Ms. Dean has shingles and Ms. Principal has food poisoning or a stomach virus, so it might not happen. Observations don't bother me. Of course I make sure I have an extra-good lesson planned and that I've thought through every last detail, but at heart I know that nothing awful is going to happen and I know that I have the support and respect of my administrators.

This Thursday, we are going to do a flower dissection. I spent tonight looking at other teachers' versions of this on the internet and kind of combined them to make one long task for them to complete. I suspect it will actually take them two days, as I want them to dissect two different types of flowers and compare them. The last time I did this - in much simpler form - at my old school, the science dept. chair saw me arrive, arms full of flowers, and made some kind of comment along the lines of "Aww, gee, you didn't have to..." and so did absolutely everyone else I saw between the front door and my classroom.

I'll try to sneak my digital camera to school and snap some pictures but I'm not promising anything!

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