Putting Educational Innovations into Practice.

Genovefa Pinnick's Comments

Comment Wall (12 comments)

At 10:51am on March 9, 2009, Jamie Chan said…
I have been trying to reach you regarding some paperwork for Spaceward Bound Mojave. Have you been getting our e-mails? There is a prep meeting scheduled for Friday March 13th from 4-6pm. Please call me to confirm you go this. 415-405-4047
At 11:24pm on March 9, 2009, Sneha Tharayil said…
Yes indeed, subbing is interesting...I'm relatively new at it and so far I've been getting calls mosty for high school and junior high, it's definitely an experience but I am loving it for the most part, my only complaint is the early ungodly hours at which we must awake...speaking of which I should go to bed now considering I have to wake up at the crack of dawn for the call I have tomorrow yay! Looking forward to meeting you in person in about 2 weeks!
At 12:16am on March 10, 2009, Rick Maschek said…
Gee, do I have stories of subbing since I've retired...and not a good reflection of the teaching profession!
At 1:20pm on March 10, 2009, Rick Maschek said…
I know what you mean about the "brain-numbing" lessons coupled with the perception many students have learned that subs don't do anything...or should I say, subs aren't given anything. One sub assignment I took was at the middle school I taught for seven years and in my old classroom. After many times of dismal "brain-numbing" lessons or even no lessons I decided to create "stand alone" single period lesson/activities/shows or whatevers to deal with bio, chem, earth, or physics classes that I might find myself in. When I got to the school, I started unloading my stuff...two big boxes and the assistant principal that I had taught with helped me carry stuff to the class and said they had a science opening there if I wanted to come back. I checked to see what the lesson plans CARTOONS! I knew what kind of lesson plan that was so I quickly researched what the students had been doing. I wouldn't be passing around different volcanic rocks or my ladle full of lava I scooped up on Kilauea, no passing around fossils, no showing off our rockets, no looking at different organisms from my pond, but thought I would discuss metals, again pass around samples AND have students make "gold & silver" pennies (unfortunately I didn’t have my gold pans with…did you know they mined gold here in our local mountains 15 years before John Marshall’s Sutter’s Mill discovery?)
As students began to enter their eyes bulged out at all the cool stuff I had on the front counter and a million questions came pouring out. I answered as many and as fast as I could and then the principal came in and said I couldn't do any of the stuff I brought and had to do the lesson plan that was left. I told her who I was but it didn't matter. I dutifully took role and turned on the cartoons to a very upset group of students. Five minutes into the video and some sat talking to each other, some put their heads down to sleep (I don't blame them) and some wanted me to talk about stuff. When the bell rang many came up and again wanted to see, feel, and hear about the stuff. Same thing happened second period. Third period the vice principal walked in, looked at the cartoons playing and asked me what I was doing. I told her I was following the lesson plans as instructed and she asked to see the plans. She then looked at the students and said “They don’t look very interested” and I replied, “You got that right” but nonetheless, had to follow the plans. As I sat there tears came to my eyes.
At lunchtime I had several students come in with more questions. The prep period was during second lunch so I took that opportunity to talk with fellow teachers I had known. “WHY DO YOU DO THIS TO SUBS” was the jest of my line. The response was that sometimes emergencies come up (that’s what thought out emergency lessons plans are for), it takes too much time to make up plans (that’s just teachers being lazy), subs don’t follow the lesson plans (maybe if something of value was left they might do them), subs don’t want a lot of work to do (it’s not hard to make meaningful lessons that don’t require a lot on the sub’s part) and my favorite, subs don’t know anything (I took great offense at that since there are many former teachers that sub and many people wanting to become teachers). In that district, exactly 50% of the time, showing cartoons was the lesson plans I encountered and a large percentage of the remaining were instructional videos (I have no problem with those as long as they are relevant).
When I served as science department chair I frequently made up appropriate lesson plans for others to use both as their lessons and for subs. I can find no excuse for anything less especially in these times when teachers complain about all the standards to cover and not enough time to cover them. Sorry for sounding off. There are many fine teachers out there and I hope you get to know them.
At 1:35pm on March 10, 2009, Rick Maschek said…
Since you are from the bay area, I’ve dug fossils in the Madera County Landfill, Ice Age mammals mostly, no dinosaurs as California is relatively dino free. As they scrap the pit for new dumping areas, they encounter bones that need to be removed before they can begin land filling. It’s been a few years since I’ve dug there but at the time they were always looking for volunteers and since the trash never seems to stop I can only assume…
If nothing else, it gives you a life long experience that you can always fall back on when teaching.
We have not launched anything yet in that program. The quarter scale motor we are working on is projected to go 50,000 feet. Another project I work with would have gone 100,000 feet but blew up last September and we are rebuilding it. I’ve also been recruited by a Texas group to put something in orbit (we are just starting on the project).
Because I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up I haven’t had a chance to see what retirement is (:
At 7:49pm on March 12, 2009, Rick Maschek said…
...I'm open to suggestions here's a couple:
1. Make notes and write down reflections of what you do when the day is over. This will jog your memory for the following year on what to keep, improve upon, or not do again. I've known teachers who say "I never liked doing this my first year and I still don't like it today"
2. Take pictures of things you do or places you go to. Students don't give a squat looking at pictures of some famous crusty old scientist but really take interest when they see pictures of their teacher "in action" doing what the teacher is teaching. Not group photos of logs standing vertically together but of what you are doing in th field. I remember one year in October turning on the computer projector for the first time and almost in unison the students yelling "No, not a power point Mr. Maschek". Seems in some of their classes teachers use them for massive hand exercise sessions for students to practice being scribes.

I think they should be for visual things, photos, video CLIPS, animations, graphs, etc. After they saw it was about fifteen pics of me walking on still flowing hot lava in Hawaii to retrieve a fresh sample they really liked when I did power points after that. Key to that was I was in the photos and not just me taking or showing pictures of others doing science.

I struggled when I first got into teaching and used the textbook as the bible for a good part of my first year. It didn't help that it was at a Catholic private K-8 school with 40 desks and forty books as the only things in the science room.
I too love art and was always drawing, painting, model building and doing crafts in elementary school. Then I got the highest score on the sixth grade math placement test and I was put in the “college bound” track till graduation. Never was I “allowed” to take an art class again till college.

The last middle school I taught at decided to begin hosting an annual high desert art show of student work for all the K-12 schools (50+). I was looking at art teachers setting up and noticed that our school didn’t have anything to represent our school. I was asked if I (a science teacher) had anything I could bring in for our school. Absolutely! I save a lot of student work that I like not only from a scientific point of view but that are artistic (and use as examples for the following years). I was able to bring in works from three previous projects.

One was construction of three-dimensional topography showing various landform features and two-dimensional contour maps to match. Some students really got into the project beautifully painting their projects realistic colors. Another project was our mousetrap powered car projects (scratch build a three or four wheeled model car powered only by the potential energy stored in the mousetrap spring. I had all kinds of really creative ideas of how to transform that into kinetic energy to move the car. Some worked fine and some didn’t but many were beautifully crafted and painted (for 8th graders I could tell who had adult help but that was fine and even encouraged as a project to do with parental involvement...using power tools). The third was 3’x 3’ “posters” of their fossil reconstruction of bones found that were jumbled up by the diggers without recording their positions while in the ground (this was to show the value of documenting things prior to our dino dig). These just happen to be decorating my classroom walls.
They were unconventional “art works” next to paintings, drawings, ceramics and other usual forms of art at the show from other schools but brought a lot of comments from the show goers that weekend and I was repeatedly asked to bring in “science art” in the following years but I’m sorry to say I don’t recall any other science teacher ever bringing in anything.
I don’t know if we’re able to upload photos on Merlot but I have some of these projects in a box from fifteen years ago out in the back. I should see if they’re still worth getting a picture of for future reference. Just today a custodian was complaining to me about the mess students make with pieces of cardboard all over the floors from a teacher doing my topo project (that I got the inspiration for from seeing a $25,000 one done for the Furnace Creek Visitor Center in Death Valley while I was a ranger there.
At 8:26pm on March 12, 2009, Rick Maschek said…
In this one, students see me inside a Mercury capsule mockup demonstrating how confined the early spacecraft were and why I could never have been an astronaut back then. A photo like this can generate all types of questions and discussions. How do you put on your spacesuit? What would it be like for a 22 orbit/24 hour trip? How does one go to the bathroom? What was it like in the Gemini program of 14 day space flights?

The type of photos you use has a tremendous impact on learning.
At 8:42pm on March 12, 2009, Rick Maschek said…
Examples of photographic impact: This one means a lot to me, Apollo 15 astronaut Al Worden and me

but for students it's two vertically standing trees; one was famous to another generation and one is boring them with meaningless photos.
At 11:08pm on March 14, 2009, Rick Maschek said…
The first year was a life size stegosaurus cut out of cardboard. I simply bought onn of those wooden dino skeleton kits that makes a 3-D standing skeleton. When I punched out the pieces (bones), I laid them on a photocopier and made a transparency for the overhead. Then I projected it on cardboard refriderator boxes taped to the wall and then cut them out.
With a shovel, I dug an area 10x20' a few inches deep next to some portables and buried them. I gace the students garden trowels to dig with and they had them all dug out by the end of the period. Problem as I was going to have all 6 periods work on the dig. As students left for their next class I quickly reburied the "bones" for the next class and did that four more times. The next year I cut out another dinosaur sheleton and gave the students spoons to dig with. "Mr. Maschek, how can we dig a dinosaur skeleton out with just spoons?" "One spoonful at a time and don't damage the 'fossils' while doing it!"
That Cristmas break my brother came down from Idaho for a visit and we spent the time cutting out four more dinosaurs. That was one of the things they highlighted at our school for our "Distinguished School" application and after two more years of digging and reburial the cardboard fossils were becoming real fragile just like some actual dino fossils I've had the pleasure to dig but too fragile for middle schoolers to care for and hard to do the classroom floor fossil reconstruction part. I asked the principal for $200 (fisrt I ever asked for "school funds" to buy plywood and cut them out over the summer and he said "What do you think money grows on trees?". With that I thought the dino dig project was over. The next school year they applied to be a "Blue Ribbon" school and asked me for info and pictures of the dino dig to include in the application. There is no more dino dig, the boxes of bones are gone or biodegrading in the ground. The principal calls up and asks "How much money do you need?" I ended up spending that Christmas break cutting a full size Utah Raptor out of 3/4" plywood. Bomber. Kid proof. Strong enough that it could be erected free standing instead of just laying out on the floor for reconstructing. There is a company called BC Bones that makes such kits from 1-3' in size and makes larger ones for their vendors as a display but cost major bucks. I also tried making some simulated dinosaur fossils from concrete that looked and felt real (some weighed 20 pounds but concern about potential broken toes ended making many of those. I tried to get a few companies interested but they thought the cost would be probibited.
As for anatomy, in seventh grade they learned bio stuff and the human body but when you simply fill in the blanks on a B&W photo copy the retention goes away with the next chapter & worksheets out of the book. Students told me they really learned the names from the classroom dino reconstructions on the classroom floor.
At 11:36pm on March 14, 2009, Rick Maschek said…
Holding a large size BC Bone puzzle kit and the large full size pelvis I cut out of 3/4 inch plywood for our dino dig project

At 5:57am on August 29, 2009, Peggy Taylor said…
Hi Genovefa!

How are you doing? I think about you alot and feel bad that I never got back to you. My life has been crazy busy trying to get through the Credential program. Are you still going to school? I'd love to hear what you have been up to.

About the research I did using titanium dioxide and UV light, I'll have to look through my files and dig up some of my papers...I don't know if they will be very helpful, but I can send a couple and then you can tell me if that is what you had in mind.

I'm so glad to have contact with you and please keep me updated on your progress! Currently I'm teaching a General Biology class and an Earth Science class at Oroville High School. They are very challenging because the majority of students are of low socio-economic status, high risk, and generally have major behavioral problems. So you can imagine quiet, little me, pitted against big, robust, verbally caustic teenagers. Yes, it's been an eye opener. But hopefully I can crack their tough little shells by the end of the semester.

Take care and write back please!
At 8:08pm on October 19, 2009, Peggy Taylor said…
Hi Genovefa! How are things going for you? Thanks so much for the "case studies". That is so cool. I'm always looking for ways to get my classes to THINK! How lucky that you get to go to the CSTA conference, I was given the opportunity to go but I have such anxiety over this PACT thing that I've got to knuckle under and finish that this weekend. I'm nearly done, but if you remember my personality...the more I read it the more I hate it! So then I spend so much time changing things and I don't know if it makes things worse or better.
So yes! Definitely anything that you find interesting I'm sure I would too! Take care and I haven't forgotten about my TiO2 research and forwarding some of that along to you, I'll get to that as soon as my PACT is turned in!!

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