Today Darwin is turning 204 years old and while many of us are celebrating his great achievements there is also a more somber side to this day. After Darwin published his theory of evolution almost 154 years ago it rapidly became the accepted scientific theory for explaining the origins of biological diversity. While evolutionary biologists still debate about the finer details of the evolutionary process there is no controversy whatsoever about the validity of the theory as a whole. Despite this, it remains controversial and plagued by misconceptions among the general public. This in itself is one important reason why we need to continue drawing attention to Darwin’s birthday to promote science literacy and dispel misconceptions.
Scientific literacy starts in school (or preferably even earlier) and, unfortunately, so do some misconceptions about evolutionary biology. As a teacher, how do you teach natural selection and adaptation when even the text books get it wrong sometimes or purposefully convey ambiguity and erroneous information? Well, for one, as a teacher you do not need to use the textbook, or as my EDSE 352 instructor said, “The textbook is not the Program of Study!”. My mentor teacher, Ms. H., embodied this idea last week when she decided to forgo using the chapter on astronomy in her grade 9 textbook because it was outdated (e.g. still classifying Pluto as a planet even though it was kicked out of the planetary club seven years ago) and had her students do a project on the topics covered in the unit. Obviously, as my recent post clearly shows, teachers have a need for resources on natural selection and evolution that are more carefully vetted than run-of-the-mill textbooks.
A few notable resources with teaching material on evolution are worth mentioning;
Science classrooms are unique learning environments unlike any other classrooms. As a matter of fact, some things only happen in science classrooms. Here is a collection of event that happened in my own science classroom over the last school year. It's a growing list, so check back for updates.
Report from yours truly live-tweeting and navigating the melee at GETCA 2015 (Annual Greater Edmonton Teachers' Conference).
Can a pencil be more than just your average run of the mill pencil? The legendary Palomino Blackwing Pearl can take a student or teacher's writing to new heights. We have taken a batch of the Pearls for a spin and are blown away by how much writing and sketching can be transformed by this unassuming pencil.
Dr. Pineda's Classroom is going YouTube with the release of its first screencast on the exciting topic of calculating percents. Only time will tell if this is the start of something big and shiny or just a passing fad.
After several weeks working on setting up habitats for new classroom animals the big day finally arrived. The newest addition to our classroom include aquatic denizens in our new aquarium and a teenage bearded dragon with lots of attitude and no table manners.