I love teaching at my school. We have a very successful student body, highly diverse because our catchment is the entire city. We are a struggling school district, and even with our success, or perhaps because of it, we have to deal with poor instructional environments.
My biology textbook for my freshman class is now sixteen years old and thinks the human genome project might be a good idea.
Our building needs major repair, and we do not have air conditioning, so Augusts and Junes are hot sweaty times with teenagers. The students keep showing up, under the worst circumstances they walk through the front door, through the metal detectors and to their lockers with broken latches.
I have watched the transformation of students’ hard street faces to the bright wonderful goofy kids I teach with the act of pulling off their hoodies, like they were removing their armor. I am a back-mountain boy raised in Northeastern Pennsylvania come to Philadelphia. In a city with poverty and problems, in a society riddled with racism, these kids keep showing up . The concept of STEM within our walls would be laughable without our kids' drive.
The Chromebooks are used to connect to resources such as the NCBI/Genome Project for BLAST searches of genes and proteins. Students develop ideas, design experiments, and outline lab reports. The work begins in the classroom, but with Google Suites and other online resources, it moves with them from school to home.
The Chromebooks have revolutionized collaboration opportunities in my classroom.
As I mentioned, students at my school live throughout the city and collaboration was historically limited to making posters together during lunch periods. Now with Google Drive, students can set up joint presentations and spreadsheets and work together even from home.
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