Author Archives: Deb Porcarelli

They Are Curious

Albert Einstein once said, “The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” We are curious about many things in the world around us. We follow our curiosities which in turn helps us to make discoveries. School and the classroom are places where kids make discoveries and satisfy their curiosities.

Kids learn by touching, feeling, and experimenting with real things. Kids have questions and curiosities in their minds that need answering and sometimes rather than reading, watching or listening they need to make hands-on discoveries. One question AIMS workshop participants often ask is, “What change did you make in your classroom to help students learn and make discoveries with their hands?” My answer is, “I left all my hands-on ‘things’ out for students to use at all times.” Yes, my classroom may have looked chaotic with shelves and counters filled with balance scales, base ten blocks, counting chips, microscopes, light bulbs, wire, and batteries but WOW, 100% worth the mess.

Math and science present the need for students to ask questions and solve problems. If the context of each is real and asks students to think creatively and critically about what they are learning, and if they are successful then they will have been able to apply their learning from a perspective approach in their own world. That means “doing” math and science with their hands. I constantly remind myself that someday students will be designing houses, perfecting wind power, or using their math to design to next smartphone. It is seeing cool solutions to basic problems around the questions asked in math and science that are a teacher’s reward for having students work with their hands.

What do your math and science classrooms look like this school year? Are they set up for students to solve real-world problems? Think about setting them up for success, because soon they will be asked to find solutions to complex problems. Set up your math and science classroom so students ask “why” all day long. Let them open things, drop objects, make loud sounds, mix liquids, and make calculations. Problem-solving is we what students need to be doing every day. Be mindful that you are there to facilitate them satisfying their curiosity and discoveries.

Hands-on math and science matter because it is how we learn. It is especially important that students do this every day not because they will all be scientists or mathematicians, but because they are all curious and need ways to relate and solve the complex problems in the world. They want to know “why” and it is why we have classes about designing shoes, making fidget spinners, why airplanes fly, developing lightsabers, and doing so means leaving balance scales, base ten blocks, counting chips, microscopes, light bulbs, wire and batteries, duct tape, paper cups, and foam board out all the time.


Let’s Build – Part 3

There is nothing better than listening to, learning from, and growing from a presentation given by one of your own. I was privileged to hear from four of my colleagues during our two-and-a-half days together during the AIMS Facilitators cadre meeting in Dallas, TX. My cognitive depth and understanding grew because of what I heard… Continue Reading

Let’s Build – Part 2

I wake up daily craving a morning cup coffee, quite similar to how I crave spending time collaborating and working alongside my colleagues. Savoring the smells and taste of a good cup of “joe” is how I feel about my collegial work. I look forward to it, and it is one hundred percent worth it!!… Continue Reading

Let’s Build

I’ve been in Dallas, TX this week with plans on spending two and a half days with the AIMS Center’s cadre of professional learning facilitators. It is my favorite time to spend with this group. It is our time to be together and learn. Our time to change, adapt and grow. Our learning plays an… Continue Reading

I Was There

Social media is what brought me to the Early Math Project Symposium sponsored in part by AIMS and held on the campus of Fresno Pacific University Friday, June 22, 2018, @aimsed, #AIMSplay, #AIMSspatial, and #EMSymp18. While I was following the day through social media, I realized that I could do an even better job of… Continue Reading

Do You Do Shikaku?

Keeping a sharp cognitive fitness level means continually engaging in mental exercises, using multiple senses, having a growth mindset, doing so often, and repeatedly. I like to find new challenges and this summer is no exception. A while back I remember being introduced to a puzzle named Shikaku. It was created by Nikoli, the Japanese… Continue Reading

Thinking Science

Nineteen states along with the District of Columbia have officially adopted the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Oregon is the only one of those that has fully migrated through adoption to full implementation of the NGSS standards. Administrators and classroom teachers alike are aware that adopting any new standards and then successfully implementing them is… Continue Reading

Have You Read the News? – A New and Helpful NGSS Resource

I just finished reading the May 2018 Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) newsletter. I hope you have too or plan to read it soon. I also hope that you share it with your colleagues, especially science instructional leaders. As a science educator I am grateful NGSS creates and shares so many useful and well-prepared resources.… Continue Reading

Discovering FLIPGRID

How do you collaborate in a group setting when all members of a group are super busy, live in different time zones, and can’t find a common meeting time? I’m sure you have found yourself in the same scenario, and I was in this very predicament earlier this week. I had sent group texts asking… Continue Reading