Our science classes have become very concerned with the status of our various endangered species on this planet. We have been brainstorming possible ways to bring attention to these animals and what could be done to save them. Being inspired by March Madness and other similar online brackets one suggestion to bring awareness to this situation was to create a fun bracket system for all to “play” in. Our brackets are setup by our students and they would like each round decided by sending out polls. We would like to see anyone involved use the internet to research the species and then eventually answer our student designed polls.
By using this link from the World Wildlife Foundation, individuals and/or classes around the world can investigate our proposed endangered animal species:
*Our class’ intention is NOT to say that one species is any better or more deserving to survive than any other. We would like to bring attention to all the species that have the unfortunate possibility of becoming extinct. Feel free to not only research and vote for your favorite species but also make predictions for the bracket winners! We hope this will be a fun and educational experience while bringing some needed attention to the struggling animals on our planet!
Please follow this site to make your bracket predictions and to see results.
Hover over the MATCH DETAILS in each bracket and check out the attachments for each animal. We implore you to research the animals BEFORE you vote. The attachments give overviews of animal, their threats, what is being done and what YOU CAN DO!! You can also vote by using the forms we will post and share. Feel free to share away through social media and any outlet as our classes would like to reach out around the world! #endangeredmadness
Our public Google forms will be shared here:
I recently had a wonderful opportunity to connect and present at the amazing worldwide online conference RSCON4!! It was basically my first presentation outside of my school, so I had some nerves to get over but eventually got a bit more comfortable. I want to thank the organizers for a wonderful weekend of learning and sharing. I have learned so much from others and I continue to grow in my career with the help of an amazingly connected PLN!! I am very proud to have the opportunity to also share some of my experiences and I hope at least bring up conversations and thought processes that help move education forward. My session is named Armed with Empathy: Creating a Classroom Climate for Collaboration. I believe strongly that I am far from some sort of expert, but just a dedicated educator with a passion to change lives for the better. If you are so inclined to give it a listen or watch I would be honored. It documents some of my experience in creating a classroom climate and my efforts in trying to stay empathic while making important curriculum decisions. Below is the link to the recording. I would love some feedback or even hope to start some dialogue on the topic. Thanks so much.
I have been a special education science teacher for over 13 years and my program continually has been evolving along. I tweak, twist, change, adapt and modify…well you get the point, my job is NEVER done. It continues based on my own growth and student growth… I have the opportunity to see many students that have lost a fervor for learning new things. They have sometimes become academically beat up by the time they see me and many on verge of giving up. One of my focal points then becomes raising student motivation and developing a warm classroom climate. I don’t think true learning can occur until they become once again comfortable with the fact that they can INDEED learn and that it can actually be fun. Sometimes of course that takes some convincing, creativity, and maybe a little luck! Several years ago I started playing with the idea of turning all of my classes into teams that could earn points together all year long. I want the time we had together to be as fun as the game shows we watch on our days off. I also want to smash the fictional view that science is done by a crazy old man in a lab coat mixing potions. I want to drive home the fact that science is done by collaborative problem solving. There are also so many life lessons that can be pulled within a year long team competition. Getting along with others, helping others, winning and losing gracefully, trying your hardest or not trying at all, etc. Team play and game play can help set up an environment for these many teaching moments. It is built into our curriculum from naming our teams and mascots with either endangered animals, elements or space content depending on the year to ending with our Science Spectacle where all teams create an interactive science museum for school. They seek to immortalize their creative team name into the Science Cup! I guess I have been “gamifying” the class for several years now. I have created many ways for students to earn points and become collaborative teams participating in a game as a platform to learning. I keep adding new ventures and experiences each year that goes by. In other blogs I can talk more about these ways in detail, after all this post is called BUZZWORDS!!
Buzzwords are part of the game experience that has taken on a major life of their own in our climate. The idea was that top scoring students could take science words that I chose and make me have to say them in a VERY specific and unique way at ALL times. If and when I am caught accidentally just saying that word like the average Joe they scream on the top of their lungs and I grant the team an extra 5 points.(YES IT IS VERY PEEWEE’S PLAYHOUSE-ISH) The fun really occurs for them when I am in PUBLIC situations with them like field trips!! Trust me, the looks I get from people that aren’t in the know are enough pleasure for the students than just the points. It started with just one word, “Mars” winced slyly out of the side of the mouth to currently over 16 words with the craziest concoctions of sound. The students love trying to get me to say them. One deviously bright student even made up a detailed story about a sick grandmother just to get me to say “OXYGEN”. This has become fun and engaging and I think rather slick on my part. Many students have a lot of trouble with language expressive and receptive. I am not sure “studying” your “vocabulary” is the only therapy for them…This is a way they can practice and use these words I’d like to get across. There is some higher order thinking going on here, so once again the “game” is more than meets the eye! They seem to be having a ball with it and I am challenged to keep pushing my voice in wild ways! If you ever run into me and I seem to twitch a bit when I mention DNA, NUCLEUS, or CELLS, maybe you’ll cut me some slack!!
“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet” -Billy Shakespeare
So, here it goes my first ever blog post!
I have thought about doing this for a very long time. I have been following some amazing educators and have been inspired by their honesty in sharing their journeys. I hope to also reflect and use this blog as a shiny mirror to my thoughts. Mirrors are necessary to our daily life and from my experience in the classroom, students will let you know immediately if you’ve been ignoring a mirror. “Dan, you missed a spot shaving!” , “Yo, Dan let me style that hair of yours!” but also, “Dan, THIS IS BORING!”, “Uh, Here we go again!” “I didn’t do my HW, I dunno” (The I dunno is usually represented by just a weird sound accompanied by a semi-shoulder shrug)… Part of this journey I guess is to make sure I check the mirror before the students do, well at least prepare and share our mirror with others for some feedback. This is where a blog might help, especially with honest exchanges from others having similar experiences. I would love to have others in this field check out my mirror and help me clean it up a bit when it gets foggy, and who knows I may help someone else with theirs indirectly.
So, what may be the FIRST thing you notice in this “mirror”?? Well, I see a name… Dan, Dan the Science Man?? A somewhat humorous name that probably brings forth many assumptions. The guy likes all things science? He blows things up? He watches too much TV? He is egotistical? He’s a wannabe?? He’s an entertainer? a teacher?? With these questions and assumptions I must wonder how I’m perceived from the outside with this name and how much does it matter? I know for a fact that if people glance quickly at this blog they expect it to be about….Language Arts!, ok,ok, Science… It is certainly true that I have been teaching and coordinating that amazing subject for the past 13 years which has brought much success and experience with it. The thing is though, professionally I have been a student driven “special educator” primarily using the subject of science as my vehicle. I have had wonderful opportunities to foster student success and esteem within a subject that inspires curiosity and a yearn to learn! These 13 years have been in a placement for students with significant learning challenges. Learning occurs here but has to be done (cliche) “out of the box” or not “traditionally” which just so happens to be a great fit for my personality! I started my career understanding individuals with challenges FIRST and then growing into the subject/curriculum.(for a future blog, I’m sure) I began by trying to give my students a chance to grow into the learning and also take some ownership of it. They should have a lot of say in what happens there and through time, conversations and experiences together create something that they may actually like being around! I’ve tried to just put items on a menu and hopefully assist them in cooking and creating the plates.(like metaphors much?) So back to this name bit…Dan, Dan the Science Man. He was named and created by the wonderful students he sought to teach. I am many names and titles in this life (Daniel M. Curcio- passport, license,- Dan to some, Danny Boy to others, at times “DANIEL MICHAEL CURCIO” to an annoyed mother, King Supreme to no one…) well you get the point and I have been given all these names. I have taken ownership of these names, especially the one that students gave me to represent just one facilitator in their learning journeys. Actually, it may be one of the only facilitators they had a choice in creating during their educational journey, so for this I am proud. Here is why it represents this blog and this professional. As you may have gathered I will certainly explore science and education here, but believe it or not Dan, Dan the Science Man is so, so much more!!
What’s your name?