Update 5 – Hong Kong Edition
 
Yesterday we got up early after a little of sleep and went to breakfast. We got the hotel buffet which was interesting. Pancakes, scrambled eggs, baked beans, mashed potatoes, fresh fruit, lo mein and some sort of chicken sausage in an interesting sauce. After that we came back up to the room to make a plan for the day. We went and visited a local temple (Man Mo Temple) and then headed off to Victoria Peak. Got to ride the Peak Tram up to the top and enjoy the beautiful views. Daniel and I had lunch there and had some very good sushi as well as a very good skirt steak. After this we headed down to ride the Star Ferry and enjoyed a great harbor tour. At this point, we were both tired and grabbed a burger from a little joint on the pier before heading back to the hotel for the night.
 
Day Two came and we were able to enjoy a nice long sleep so we ended up getting started later than we wanted but still, we got going. Great breakfast again. Headed down to the Star Ferry to catch the bus tour of the city for the day. Stopped at the Golden Bauhinia Statue Square for some great picture opportunities. We arrived a few minutes before a major rainstorm opened up on us. After the rain cleared we headed off on the bus again. We decided to take in the views off the peak one more time before we left so we went back up. After this stop we finished off our bus tour and hopped on the Hong Kong Ferris Wheel! Very nice and cheap! While waiting for a taxi (first one the driver could not understand English) we met a very nice family from California and talked with them for a few minutes. Came back to the hotel for a bit and then walked across the street to a little hole in the wall restaurant for some local cuisine. Not 100% sure what I ate but it was delicious.
 
Tomorrow we continue our journey to Malaysia. Time to go to bed.
Advertisements

On the plane to Tokyo. Goodness. Never would have imagined me doing this let alone me taking my son with me. What an adventure we are on right now. We will have so many memories. Daniel will be keeping a journal of his adventure and I will share mine online.

So first entry – I am nervous. Just because I have never done something like this before and because I have my son with me. The longest flight I was on before this one was four hours. I got great advice from friends Julie Quinn Blyth, Michael Banet and Justin O’Connor and many others on how to best deal with it and for that I am grateful. I have on my compression socks, have a big bottle of water and have mapped out a walking path. Dan is beside me bobbing his head to music right now so we are ready to rock and roll. See you in a while. And for Michael Banet there is the pic of the great socks!

Update 2 – we are well over halfway through the flight. We had an awesome first meal, two good snacks and working on a wrap with sesame noodles. Very good! The ride hasn’t been bad, caught a bit of sleep and watched a couple movies. Going to try and catch another nap in a bit.

Update 3 – So funny story. When we were at the Dallas airport waiting, we had about an hour and fifteen minutes to take off. I decided to make a quick pit stop at the bathroom and to grab a fresh pack of gum. So when I get back to where we had been sitting they had already boarded groups 1-7. Dan and I were in group 4. So, I didn’t get good spots for our luggage in the overhead bins. All ended up ok since we have a long layover.

We are wheels down in Tokyo waiting till close to six until we can board for a 3.5 hr flight to Hong Kong and then on to the hotel to quite hopefully sleep. The crew on the plane was great. Friendly, helpful, attentive and none of the ones we interacted with were grumpy. That definitely helped. We slept, ate, watched movies, listened to music, walked four times and did leg stretches at our seat. We don’t feel that bad yet. I know the jet lag will hit us soon enough. That’s it for now.

Update four – We ended up in our hotel room by 11:45pm last night and laid down a bit after midnight. It wasn’t the best nights sleep but we still got some sleep. I had no idea how to turn on the lights so had to ask the front desk. The room is pretty decent for the size and we can see the bay between the tall buildings out our room. We had a decent breakfast in the hotel and then went out for a quick walk to find some snacks and drinks. Our plan now is to figure what to do today but for now, we are taking it easy.

Six days until my son and I board a plane in Lexington, KY to fly to Malaysia to help take part in the IMCC5 conference. Six days until we fly over the Pacific Ocean to the other side of the world. Six days until we get to meet some amazing people and learn from them. Six days until we get to work with children through the first ever IMKC. Six days until we go on the adventure of a lifetime.

Needless to say, this is a first for myself and my son. My only trip out of the country was to Canada so this is a whole different trip. We are super excited about this opportunity to be a part of the IMKC!

So how do you get ready for a trip like this when you have never traveled overseas before. You ask lots and lots of questions. Lots and lots of questions. You ask the people you know who have been there, done that for advice. All the while doing research for all my stops for food, places to see and ways to see/take part in the local culture.

I can’t think of any other trip that I have asked this many questions, gotten this much advice or done this much research. This is one heck of an adventure. My goal for this trip is to 1) help lead the IMKC and do everthing I can to make it a success and 2) to learn and enjoy all the local cultures. I am super pumped my son gets to come with me as this will be one of those memories he won’t forget. It will also be a great way for him to see the world, to help expand his view.

We are going to journal/blog our way through this trip so you will get to see it from my view and from his view as well. This is going to be a fun way to share this journey.

Part Two coming later – time to get back to the beach vacation today!

As I sit here on Easter morning reflecting on what has transpired recently with the coordinated attack on public education in Kentucky and other states, I get depressed. It saddens me to see such a noble profession being demonized by so many. Teaching really is a noble profession. Teachers give so much of themselves and their own family to their students and classrooms. It truly amazes on a daily basis how giving teachers truly are, I mean truly giving. Being called selfish and a thug by our own governor, being yelled at that we are throwing a temper tantrum, being told that we are ignorant and misinformed, being told to go back to teaching and stay out of politics by other political leaders is depressing. We have been kicked in the teeth and are standing up for what is right. To tell me that teachers are selfish and wanting to get rich is just not true. To tell me that we are in it for ourselves is not true. To tell me that we shut down various school systems so we could have a longer spring break is not true. We do this so that we can keep, retain and attract the best and brightest teachers to Kentucky. We do this so our students can have the best and brightest teachers. We do this to better Kentucky.

Now, why did I become a teacher –

  • It started when I started working for the Boy Scouts on Summer Camp staff.
  • I became a teacher because I enjoyed working with students.
  • I became a teacher because I love science and wanted to help show others how awesome science is in the world.
  • I became a teacher because I knew it needed good people.
  • I became a teacher because it felt right.
  • I became a teacher because it is fun.
  • I became a teacher because it is freaking awesome to watch someone “get it”.
  • I became a teacher because I felt I could make a difference for someone.
  • I became a teacher because I hoped I could help.
  • I became a teacher because I wanted to.
  • I want to stay a teacher because of the above.
  • I hope I can stay a teacher.
  • I want to stay a teacher. I feel it in my bones. This is what I need to be doing.
  • I married a teacher.

Thanks for listening to my short ramble.

Previously I had always ran the science fair like many of my fellow science teachers. The past two years, there have been two major changes with the process which I will detail below. People will ask, well, how do you know if it has worked better than before? Where’s your evidence? Again, I will get to that part below.

First major change – I was able to recruit a few #actuallivingscientist ‘s to help mentor no more than 5 projects over the course of the first semester. Their role was to ask questions, offer advice and be a sounding board for the students but under no circumstance to do the project for them. The communication was done through weekly emails that included the scientist, myself and the students (two reasons: accountability and transparency). There was a teachable moment with how to write a formal email to the scientist.

Over the last two years, the conversations I have watched have been phenomenal. They have well exceeded my wildest expectations. There have been a couple that haven’t taken advantage but, for the most part, the students have enjoyed the conversations and will excitedly tell me they just got a new email or say it has been over a week since they last emailed me. The questions, thoughts, advice that have been shared have been fantastic. I honestly can’t thank the mentors enough for the time and efforts with my students.

Second major change – This change comes at the very beginning. Instead of trying to come up with a question to investigate, the students begin to research a phenomena that interests them. As they research this topic, they begin writing down questions they have about it. From that list, we begin to see which are testable questions and if an experiment can be developed that they can actually conduct. This has been a great change and I feel really helped bring the projects to a higher quality.

How do you know if it has worked? Great question. Here is some of my evidence from the last two years:

  • Of the 30 projects from my school that have gone on to the district fair, 18 have been from my class. The other 12 came from 10 other science teachers in the building.
  • Of those, 4 of mine have ended up at the State Science fair with two of them earning medals (First place in her category and the other Third in her category).
  • Comments from the mentors expressing how well the students are doing and how surprised they have been about it and enjoyed the process
  • Students aren’t complaining as much (not hard data I know but it has been observed)
  • Parents not complaining as much (not hard data  I know but it has been observed)

After all this, I am still looking for volunteer mentors for this school year. What would your role be? Ask questions, give advice, push the students and a time requirement of no more than maybe 30 minutes for the week.

If you would like to be a mentor for a few projects, feel free to email me at patrick.goff@fayette.kyschools.us or DM me on twitter @bmsscienceteach. I would love to hear from you. If you would like to talk to a former mentor, let me know and I am sure one of them would be more than happy to talk about their role with you. This has been a great experience for all involved and I hope you will consider signing up.

 

At the beginning of summer, I was already thinking about next school year and how to make the science I teach more real, more personable, more relateable (I know, not the highest quality word choice) for my students. Through the last two years, I have been able to incorporate a variety of scientists through Skype or similar video conferences which have always been fantastic. These talks allow the students to interact with an #actuallivingscientist so they can see who is doing the science, ask questions and listen to some fascinating science talks. The only issue I have is that I will not ask anyone to do four talks a day as I know the scientists still have work to do and I do not want them to feel put upon or as if they are a babysitter for my class. I want these talks to be helpful, informative and enjoyable for all parties involved. I can honestly say, each year when I do one of the video-conferences at least one student will say they didn’t think a person like them could do science (race, gender, background) which makes me sad. I also have multiple students say after that they thought it was cool and would like to explore that science more in depth.

With that in mind, I was thinking how can I bring more scientists into my classroom to share with my students what they do and why it is awesome. The idea was to ask as many of my scientist friends (cool to think how many friends I have made now in the science community) if they would be willing to make a short video explaining “Why My Science is Awesome”.  I think this would be a cool way to show at the beginning of class 2 or 3 days of school each week. We would be able to show one to each class and have a short discussion about what they saw. It would be a great way to show a variety of science and a variety of scientists.

As for the videos, I am thinking for a length that is anywhere from 1-3 minutes but that is not set in stone (maybe no more than 5 minutes). I would think the videos could be as simple as filming yourself using your iPhone and just talking about “Why My Science is Awesome”maybe showing some of the equipment you use or the area you research to as complicated as using a professional video camera and integrating images.  The videos would be uploaded to a YouTube Channel so multiple classrooms could use them as long as the scientist making the video is good with that idea.

If you have never done a video like this before, I will get a couple examples soon to put up for you to model after. I really think this could be a great way to introduce your science and yourself to many school kids while talking “Why My Science is Awesome.”

Feel free to send your video to patrick.goff@fayette.kyschools.us and I am looking forward to your submission. Also, if you know anyone who would be great for this project, please send this link to them. My motto on this project is, the more the merrier. Any science is welcome so we can showcase as many different disciplines as possible.

Lastly, thank you. Thank you for being willing to participate and help show everyone “Why My Science is Awesome.”

Sincerely,

Patrick Goff

Evening everyone,

This entry maybe a bit short but I wanted to get back into the blog again. I have neglected this for too long at this point and feel bad. I doubt I have anything of real interest to say but here it is anyway.

Point 1: It has been very enjoyable to watch @NGSS_tweeps take off as well as it has this year. With the help of Wendi Vogel, Kathy Renfrew, Jaclyn Austin and Taylor Sullivan, we have made a large leap in numbers of followers. I am very excited to see how it turns out each week as each host adds their own personal twist/flavor to how they are approaching and implementing the NGSS. I really, truly love it. Thank you to everyone who has hosted and thanks to everyone who participates each week. This is definitely one way we will help each other improve.

Point 2: I started another project, not like I had anything else to do with all my ample amounts of free time right? I called it #scistupartner and created the website scistupartner.weebly.com. The whole goal of this website is to help teachers get in contact with practicing scientists to Skype in for a virtual talk with their kids. We are growing slowly but feel it will pick up once people start to see how it works. I firmly believe that having experts talk with your kids should be a priority. They get to see #actuallivingscientist (by the way that was an awesome hashtag), talk to them in real time, ask questions and get to know them! Those types of interactions can be inspirational for the kids. As far as I know, the scientists have loved them as well. There are so many scientists that have helped me with this project, that are excited and waiting to talk with kids and who are just super human beings. Check it out!!

Point 3: As for my teaching this year you ask? If I had to grade my teaching on a five point scale, 1 being bad and 5 being awesome, I would put myself around a 2.5 to be honest. This has not been my best year. I have let myself get pulled off in the mud and get stuck in the weeds. I am not happy with what I have accomplished this year as a whole. I am reflecting, taking notes and already back at the drawing board, not just for next year but for the rest of this year. Have you had a year where you are just like, “what happened?”. I am in that year at the moment and fighting to get out of it. For whatever reason, finding that inspiration has eluded me but I will not give up. That is not who I am as a teacher. I know I can do better. My kids deserve better. I will keep working to be the best teacher I can be for them. I just hope it is enough.

Well, that is what I had on my mind and will try to have a better, more thoughtful blog next time. I would love to hear what you all think about my thoughts.

Enjoy your evening!