Back to School Night 2011 Welcome Parents to Mr. Cohn ’ s 9 th Grade Biology Classroom! “ Today more than ever before, science holds the key to our survival as a planet and our security and prosperity as a nation” Barack Obama
Goals “ Science is a lifelong learning process by which students can learn and employ skills such as observing, questioning, inferring, experimenting, predicting, analyzing and evaluating.” NPS Biology Curriculum Guide
1 Intro Welcome to Back to School Night, Tonight I want to share with you our goals for the year; what we will be studying; and some information about how we will accomplish our goals. I believe biology is among the most important courses that your child will take in high school-- not only because of the things they will learn, but also because of how it teaches them how to think. Whether your child already loves science or is under the mistaken belief that they hate it, my goal is to have them leave this class excited about what they have learned, and with an appreciation of how it affects every one of us every day.
While learning the fundamentals of biology is one goal of this course, the impact of studying biology goes far beyond just a better understanding of this one subject, and this is reflected in how our students are learning about biology.
As stated in the Newark Public Schools Biology Curriculum Guide: [quote]
So while this course will teach your child key concepts in understanding how the biological world works, we will also be doing assignments that allow the students to reflect on how what they are learning relates to other areas of study- and to their lives.
A key goal is to help students develop their analytical thinking skills. Today, more than ever, it’s critical that students be able to apply what they learn to other areas of study and to practice analytical thinking.
Both what we study and how we will study it reflects a new respect for the kind of skills that are critical in the 21 st century. The NJ educational system has joined with a majority of the states in adopting concepts from what is known as the 21 st Century Skills Movement. If you haven’t already heard something about this I’m sure you will in the future. I’ll speak more about it and how its concepts are reflected in this course later. For now I’ll just say that it goes far beyond just including the use of technology-- and includes ways of working and learning that help make biology concepts clear, exciting and relevant.
My goal is to expose your child to biology in ways that help them understand how science works; why it is relevant to their lives; and how all organisms are interrelated in ways that are vital for us to understand-- all so that they will be as excited by biology and as interested in how it affects them, as I am.
We will be following the district curriculum which breaks this one year course into 5 core units. [list]
However, we will also have projects that stress the interrelationship of all these areas and give students the kind of information that encourages them to come up with their own conclusions and solutions. This kind of learning is key in developing the skills that have been identified as critical for success in the 21 st century.
As part of the schools’ commitment to improving education is a new awareness of the kinds of skills most valuable in life beyond school- and in the workplace. Some of these skills include a knowledge of technology, but it goes far beyond that. New curriculum standards have been written that apply to virtually everything your child will learn.
Yes, the standards include the use of computers and the internet, however
Some of the Standards make ideas that have always been implied about being an educated person more explicit, such as encouraging students to use what they know for critical thinking and problem solving
And some old ideas have gotten new emphasis such as encouraging students to be creative and innovative in expressing their ideas.
Other standards reflect an understanding of the increasing emphasis on Communication and Collaboration both in life and in the workforce. We want students to have the kinds of experiences in school that prepare them for this.
The ultimate goal is to give students the tools they will need their whole lives.
To achieve these goals we will leverage the power of technology.
My website and blog include links to assignments and additional information and documents such as the course syllabus, classroom rules and the Lab contract. Your children have all received copies of these documents and they were supposed to be returned signed by both you and your child. I have not received all of these back yet, so if you haven’t seen them, ask your child, or check the website.
Each student has also received information on how to login to a web based copy of the textbook which includes extra material such as videos and links to additional information.
Each student will keep their own blog as a place to reflect each week on things they have learned or thought about.
We’ll encourage the lifelong learning of new ways to use technology- for example, collaboration using online tools such as Google docs. Links to information about using these tools can be found on my website.
Students will learn to share their ideas more widely by posting their presentations online.
We will also leverage the power of online resources for both research and ...
virtual labs, where students can experience using sophisticated research tools that are not available in the typical classroom.
I believe every child can succeed in my classroom and offer help whenever it is needed. Tutoring is also made available through the science department and that schedule is also posted on my website.
None of this can be accomplished without your support. Just by taking the time to be here tonight you have shown your commitment to helping your child do their best. I encourage you to stay involved.
Email is the quickest way to reach me, however I will return phone calls or notes. Thank you for coming tonight. I look forward to speaking with you individually when conference time comes around.