The ” Objectives” Issue

How many times have you been told you must post or share your learning objectives at the beginning of your lesson?

I had the pleasure of listen to Paul Anderson address the Wisconsin Society of Science Teachers last spring. One of the first issues he brought up was the need to push back on administrators requests to post learning objectives on the board. Shortly after this I saw the video linked below to a discussion with Jason Crean on the matter. Teacher’s who engage in inquiry should consider alternative strategies to posting objectives. UBD author, Grant Wiggins chimes in with the writing of his article, “Mandating the Posting of Learning Objectives and other Mindless Policies. The policy is well meant, but perhaps superficial.

I am implementing the Illinois Storyline for the first time this year. I have decided to post the essential question for the lesson and the Science and Engineering Practice(SEP) and/or Crosscutting Concept(CCC) as “learning targets”.

Another strategy is to have students co-create the learning objectives with you. This is done as part of the discussion and reflection for each lesson. Stem Teaching Tools has a nice description of this approach. I hope to grow into this process too.

This shared Google Doc addresses FAQ’s for implementing NGSS storylines

Green Chemistry Curriculum

Green Chemistry Curriculum

Are you a Chemistry of Physical Science teacher who would like access to free resources that support greener labs and teaching about sustainability? Check out the resources available at Beyond Benign. This group supports professional development, teacher collaboration and the publication of free curriculum. Their lessons are designed to improve upon traditional chemistry labs done in science classes by using safer chemicals and challenging students to think about new ways to use science to reduce chemical impact and use naturals resources more sustainably. I had a chance to join one of their online collaboration sessions and I am thrilled to discover the idea and resources.

Teaching the Nature of Science

The Holidays bring many gifts. Some of the best gifts have been shared by dedicated educators through the Creative Commons. I am eternally grateful to the wonderful scientists and educators who shared in this way. My latest rediscovered gem is the work of Larry Flammer. He published a student text on the Nature of Science called Science Surprises. This text is a great companion to the hands on lesson ideas that are archived at his ENSIWeb site. Below are some other fantastic resources that are shared without cost to educators. Enjoy the season!

Other Nature of Science Teaching Resources:

Screen Recording Using Slide Show Tips

There are some annoying glitches when you screencast with PowerPoint, Keynote, and Google Slides. The main thing to work around is the full-screen presenter mode. If you present your slides using full-screen mode,  which makes the animations and the bullets etc work, this prevents you from seeing the annotation tools in recording programs such as Screencastomatic and screencastify. The workaround is to present it in a window. This allows you to resize your window, and see your recording and/or annotation tools.  These are also very good strategies for sharing presentations in Zoom so that you can access your other tools while presenting. Here is a quick screencast on how to do this.

Note: I did not show the toolbars very well in my video. When in Present in Window mode your animations will work just like they do in full screen mode. You can resize the presentation window so that you can see your tools. 

Quick Guide for showing your slides in a window for presentation rather than fullscreen.

  • Power Point – View, Reading View


Google Slides – Present, Presenter View

Keynote- Play, Play Slideshow in Window (Play in Window for newer versions)

Turn your smartphone into a document camera

IPEVO IDocCam is a great tool for repurposing your iphone or an ipad into a document camera. The app costs .99 a month or $9.99 a year. Once you download and install the software the only trick is creating a stand. Of course IPEVO sells a really nifty smartphone stand for $59.00. You can also use a cookie rack and a stack of books and position the camera through wires. A piece of plexiglass is also a good tool.

(image from

IPEVO Annotate

IPEVO AnnotateIPEVO Annotate. This is a free download from IPEVO. It allows you to mark up anything that displays on your computer. I use a Wacom tablet to annotate but this will work with a trackpad or a mouse. You will see I am using a mouse in the demo. This is a great way to screen record and annotate on PowerPoint, Keynote, or Google Slides. You can also pop up a whiteboard to solve problems.

Note you cannot annotate in a full-screen presentation. You need to present in the window. This took me a while to figure out. Here are the directions for doing this in Keynote, PowerPoint and Google Slides. 



You can also use IPEVO Annotator in Whiteboard mode. Here is a video to explain this.



For an ipad like experience, you can use a Wacom graphics tablet that comes with a pen. This will allow you to annotate with the pen and is much easier to draw equations with.