Entergy MST Project Reflection 2010-2011


This past year's Entergy MST Project really began at the June Project SMART workshop presented by Carol Blunt White. Her approach to collecting student data and using it to help student achievement was the first approach that resonated for me. I left her workshop knowing that I would be using strategies she suggested to try to improve student learning in College Physics in the fall. With a few months to think about it and time to develop data tools, I was able to start the first day of class with a consistent goal setting conversation and strategy that carried through until mid June. I believe that the goal setting had a marked impact on student achievement and I fully intend to use the strategy again next year. I am also planning on adding better data analysis to several of the college physics labs next year, utilizing concepts from my statistics class I completed this past spring.

Web 2.0 tools for literacy and communication was a theme for this year's work. I planned purchases using Entergy funds to support this focus. Two used HP tablet laptops were purchased from EBay and two new Flip Video cameras were added thanks to Entergy. The laptops proved to be more than just tools to create videos and edit Audacity files with. They were also invaluable in enabling my physics students to utilize PhET Java-based physics lab simulations that definitely made learning about electric field, circuits, magnetism, diffraction, refraction, and wave interference concepts clearer and easier. The simulations allowed students to interact/experiment with variables and see the relationships. The simulations also enabled students to SEE invisible fields that one cannot show easily in a traditional lab experience.

I attended the NYSCATE educational technology conference in Rochester in late November which provided new tools and strategies for my teaching. Student video production, collabortive online activities, productivity tools, and other technologies were featured as well as some excellent discussions from veteran technology administrators and teacher users on how to problem solve on the district and building levels and how best to incorporate technology into the classroom.

I planned video projects for all of my students this year. Physics students planned and produced biophysics videos that made clear connections between physics and adaptations or strategies animals use for survival. The students were free to find a creature that interested them and then plan their video. Each finished video was peer reviewed and the project was a success overall. I will plan a few video based lab reports in earlier months next year to help students get their feet wet using the movie making software and sound editing software.

My Regents Science Prep 9 students had two different presentations to make to their classmates, both focused on the Entergy sponsored zoo field trip. RSP9 students first were given an assignment to create a presentation for a mock interview for a zoo exhibit specialist. Peers then chose who should be awarded the "job". Before, during, and after the zoo field trip, students researched, took videos, downloaded images, and information to create a short 2 minute movie featuring three animals and their ecoregion that they chose to focus in on during the zoo visit. They created and edited their videos and shared them with their peers.

To support all of the video and sound recording technology infusion, I completed a valuable 20 hour class trough NASA's ePDN online education site taught through Georgia Tech. The Advanced Vodcasting course required that I create videos and record and edit narration for a final project. While the class awarded a 20 hour certificate, in fact it consumed over 30 hours of my time to learn new technology skills, complete assignments, and produce a final project. I cannot imagine not having had the challenging workshop experience given all of the trouble shooting required to support my students' projects.

During the school year I continued work with my RSP9 students using GIS technologies (ScribbleMaps, Google Earth, Geo PDFs, and My World GIS) to help students gain some perspective on the local, regional, and up to world-wide scale. I completed professional development at the NYSGIS conference in Saratoga in late October and have continued to work on GIS related projects that bring ideas to my classroom through CCC and Hobart & Cornell. My RSP9 students investigated physical features of the land, weather, climate, river systems, and watersheds, as well as looked at the human impact on the environment looking at landscape change over time viewing satellite imagery. We also looked at local and regional invasive species (Zebra & Guaga Mussels, Round Head Goby,& Purple Loosestrife), focusing in on our Great Lakes and learned about the balance of ecosystems and how disruptions have a domino effect. Professional development work completed as part of the CoastLines NSF project added good marine and freshwater geospatial thinking ctivities for my students and had required that I develop skills with My World GIS software as well as Scribble Maps.

In physics, I incorporated a connection between physics and the conservation of endangered species by looking at Cornell's "Listening Projects" and created an online exploratory lab and followed it with a computer-based lab to analyze students' voices, using the same tools as Cornell and linguistics professionals (PRAAT and RAVEN software).

RSP9 students also completed two hands-on engineering design challenges to build structures from limited resources. The first project challenge was to create a two story structure to withstand shaking on an earthquake shake table with live loads on the top of the first and second stories. The second challenge was to build a tall, but economical structure to support a mass a foot or more above a surface. Students calculated the 'cost per inch' of their structure and had to show their budget and calculations for the project. The final culminating engineering design project for a solar cooker was not completed this year due to lack of time. The movie project took several days longer than expected, not allowing sufficient time to design, prototype, construct, and test solar cookers.

When I look back over the past year I can clearly see where I have grown in terms of technology skills, collecting and thinking about student data, the value of goal setting, and my ability to plan and support student multi-media projects. The Oswego BOCES Teacher Leader Academy, literacy across the disciplines and 21st Century skills were a major themes that provided professional development, book study & discussion, and technology support throughout the year as well. This PD experience supported my growth related to activities and ideas I worked on for the Entergy MST project. Continued work with Crossing Boundaries with Hobart and Cornell as a Teacher Leader for the year 2 cohort provided many opportunties to try new online tools, develop critical thinking hands on activities, and collaborate with a network of science teachers and higher education faculty. This year had many threads interwoven between the three projects in terms of growing my competencies to integrate Web 2.0 related activities into my classes and work to develop college and career readiness skills in my students. The bottom line... I am hungry to learn more and do it better! ISTE 2011 is my next stop to engage in more professional development for technology integration.