When we no longer know what to do we have come to our real work and when we no longer know
which way to go we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The
impeded stream is the one that sings.
Teacher Guided Investigation (TGIs): Our science-teaching program will continue to emphasize direct experience of inquiry and experimentation in the natural world outside of the classroom. Students will begin the year by developing a testable question that will investigate the near coastal ocean and sandy shore environment in which we all live. After identifying a significant topic they will design and perform either an experiment or a descriptive investigation. Small groups of students (3/group) will choose personally interesting topics from a menu of marine science topics; meanwhile, I will be modeling and directing the inquiry processes by performing an investigation of my own alongside them. 7th graders will examine physical or chemical processes and SMASHing seniors will apply themselves to one of the six unifying principles of marine biology in an effort to increase their readiness for high school biology learning.
Timing: This project runs from late Sept and concludes in January.
Place-Based Stewardship Action Project (PSAPs): As the holiday season draws to a close and we are all feeling full of love we will turn our attention directly to caring for our planet. Student Action Teams (SATs) will select a local, regional, or globally important place to nurture and find a way to positively influence the place. Teacher directed research into Regional Biogeograhy and environmental sustainability shall play a significant supporting role in the project; however, the intent of this project is to help kids learn how to translate good intentions into meaningful action. In each case students will have to learn the natural history of their selected place, research local organizations, and define the issues carefully before acting, but the continued emphasis will be on the ultimate effectiveness of the action. We shall use local university partners (USC/UCLA), NGOs, and parents to guide/aid us in this work and learning how to collaborate effectively outside of the school environment is a critical piece of the intended learning objective. Students will have the option of continuing this work into the third trimester contingent on the quality of their learning and service.
Timing: Scheduled for Feb through April. Particularly motivated learners may need to begin working earlier then this to match scheduled events of our partners. USC’s Quick-Science Project, for example, will begin before the holidays with dates to be determined.
Student Interest Based Inquiry Investigation (SIBIs): Following spring break we begin a new investigation cycle that will be entirely student generated with coaching from teachers, alumni tutors, and mentors from local colleges. These individual investigations may be experimental in nature, research based, or a data mining experience, but will have to examine significant matters drawn from life science, Planned-Parenthood, or teen topics. The topic may involve any class here at SMASH, be thematically linked to other class work, or be something completely to academics.
Evaluation: Students will keep a working portfolio that will go home weekly for parent check and signature. Individual learners/peers or an adult will review them bi-weekly. Activities and investigations will be photo/video documented and made available to parents. As a high school prep strategy, students will occasionally take quizzes and tests. No grades will result as this practice is a learning exercise meant to teach the pragmatic skill of test taking! Weekly progress reports/reflections will be written by each learner and sent home on Friday.
One is a matter of quality, the other, a matter of time.
The Electric Woman