Reflection: Classroom Setup Isobar & Isotherm Lab - Section 3: Introduction & Vocabulary


I think one thing that teachers can always be found discussing, arguing, or thinking about is the process of calling on students in class. There are myriad questions to consider. Can I call on any student randomly? What about ELLs? Advanced students? Shouldn't I consider the feelings and emotions of students who don't like to speak out? How should I call on them? How much wait time should I  give? What do I do if a student doesn't know?

While the scope of this brief reflection is by no means an answer to all (or any) of those difficult questions, the frustrating answer is that yes, a teacher does and should consider the questions that pop up about questions, and figure out a plan that works for his or her classroom. 

If I may, I can briefly describe how it generally works in my classroom, and how I tend to roll it out/reinforce those expectations:

  1.  At the start of the year, I tell students that "I reserve the right to call on any student for any question." It's something I reinforce, and it's something I do throughout the year. However, I similarly remind them that it's okay if they don't know - getting things wrong or not knowing stuff is part of learning!
  2. Similarly, it's important that students also know that they can't just give up. It may sound harsh to some, but I outlaw the term "I don't know" in my classroom. They can say, "I need help," or "I need a hint," but in my classroom, I don't know is akin to giving up. 
  3. I often, if not most of the time, use popsicle sticks to call on students when I want to cold call on students randomly, so they generally know that I'm not picking on them or being unfair (although sometimes I very easily lie and call on who I want :-)
  4. I try to provide ample wait time when I know I'm going to ask a hard/tough question or one in which they need to check their notes or Earth Science Reference Tables (ESRT). 
  5. I provide hints/clues if they're stuck, or pass it on to another student to provide a hint. I feel that this allows the student to often arrive at successful answers, it keeps me on my toes (the process of scaffolding down), and it keeps the cognitive ratio more on the students than on me. 

  Calling on Students
  Classroom Setup: Calling on Students
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Isobar & Isotherm Lab

Unit 5: Meteorology
Lesson 13 of 17

Objective: SWBAT define an isotherm and create and interpret an isotherm and isobar map

Big Idea: Students create isolines for two different maps - one featuring air pressure (isobars) and the other featuring temperature readings (isotherms). This is a two-day lab that also has students use an Internet-based simulation to test out their isoline creatio

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