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Overcoming Risk Aversion in the Classroom Community. AAPT Winter Meeting 2009 Kathleen Grimes Menyhart Young Women’s Leadership Charter School of Chicago kgrimes@ywlcs.org. YWLCS at a Glance. 350 students in grades 7-12; all-girls Admission is non-selective

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overcoming risk aversion in the classroom community

Overcoming Risk Aversion in the Classroom Community

AAPT Winter Meeting 2009

Kathleen Grimes Menyhart

Young Women’s Leadership Charter School of Chicago

kgrimes@ywlcs.org

ywlcs at a glance
YWLCS at a Glance
  • 350 students in grades 7-12; all-girls
  • Admission is non-selective
  • 78% African American, 15% Latina, 6% Caucasian, 1% Mixed Race and 1% Asian
  • 80% are eligible for free or reduced price lunch
  • All students are required to take Physics in their senior year
encourage risk taking by
Encourage Risk Taking by:
  • Developing a Community Contract
  • Encourage Cooperation, Not Competition
  • Teach Nature of Science Explicitly
develop a community contract
Develop a Community Contract
  • Ask students what they will need in order to take risks in class
  • Revise, if needed, until all students agree
  • Make it a “living” document
encourage cooperation
Encourage Cooperation
  • Use Team-Building Activities throughout the year
    • Broken Circles/Broken Squares
    • Zin Obelisk
  • Build student confidence with activities where all students can succeed
  • Make lab tests non-competitive
prepare students for uncertainty
Prepare Students for Uncertainty
  • Use Nature of Science Activities to demonstrate:
    • Scientists often have no way of ‘seeing’ the phenomena they are investigating
    • Science is open-ended and tentative
    • Scientific knowledge is partially a function of human subjectivity
    • Example: Black Box Activities such as “Mystery Boxes”
make nature of science explicit
Make Nature of Science Explicit
  • “As far as communicating proper understandings of the NOS to students is concerned, teachers have been led to believe that their students will come to understand the NOS simply through the performance of scientific inquiry or investigations. This advice is no more valid than assuming that students will learn the details of cellular respiration by watching an animal breathe.” (Lederman 1992)
bibliography
Bibliography
  • Lederman, N.G. (1992). Students and teachers’ conceptions about the nature of science: A review of the research. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 29, 331-59.