Ken Liu

I used to raise fish for a living and now I'm a high school science teacher.




Kalaheo High School

Recent Posts by Ken

Sat Nov 17, 2012 10:35 AM in Science Notebook
Thank you everyone for your input regarding interactive notebooks. I have always wanted to try this in my science classroom as I have heard how beneficial they can be. I have also been hesitant to try it due to the challenge of assessing them. Don't want to lug 180 notebooks home and try not to spend weekends in my classroom grading (although I'm already not so successful with that one!) With th...

Sat Nov 17, 2012 10:13 AM in Teaching Evolution for the First Time
Hi Kevin: I always introduce this subject by addressing the different ideas and beliefs regarding evolution. Tell the students that while there are different beliefs regarding this subject, since it is a science class, you are going to focus on the science perspective using EVIDENCE (fossils, DNA, plate tectonics, etc). You can even play the NOVA movie "Intelligent Design on Trial" that addre...

Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:44 PM in First day of teaching
I truly believe there are no wrong answers (well, up to a certain point) in science, as long as the students are able to explain and reason through their answers. As an example, I give a point for bell work if the students just try to answer it (no credit for "IDK!"). Their previous knowledge can help provide them the information and help synthesize an answer. Also students are so afraid of gett...

Recent Reviews by Ken

Sat Oct 20, 2012 2:58 PM
5 Review
This is a great resource for teachers. Our students (we teach common curricula with 10 sections) had a difficult time balancing equations, mostly because of their challenges with math. Four of the physical science teachers all found that the students had a hard time balancing equations. To be quite honest, we all just went over it, tried to do some practice problems, and left it at that since it is not a benchmark for physical science, but wanted to expose the idea to them, in order to prepare when they take chemistry in the future. I did use the PHET simulation from the U. of Colorado, had the students go to the game format, and bribed them with candy to get the highest score. Interestingly, most of them were able to balance the equations presented 8 out of 10 times, with many students getting a perfect score, in contrast to the challenges they had with a worksheet. Go figure.. I like the idea of using color coded notecards as an interactive way of balancing equations. Very visual and very hands-on. Having the students design and present a skit or demonstration of the different kinds of chemical reactions is genius. It is very collaborative, interactive, and kinesthetic, that involves all types of learners. It allows students to think "outside of the classroom" and make the concepts more relevant and with more of a personal connection. I will have the students try this tomorrow since I have a workshop to attend and it would be a great activity that a substitute teacher can implement.

Sat May 19, 2012 5:11 PM
4 Mars Review
This was a very interesting SciGuide. Using evidence such as fossils, climate, and habitat on mars has students examine the possibility of life on Mars. Who would not be interested in learning about life on Mars? I especially liked the information regarding the possibility of water on Mars through the evidence of erosion and water marks. This could be connected to the erosion unit that we go over in the earth science portion of my class. Also, I really like the hands on activity where students experiment with salt and sugar to look at biomarkers as evidence for life. This activity is very hands-n, which my students love and also inquiry-based/ However, careful attention must be made to ensure students make the connection to the evidence and not focus on the burning of sugar, as students (especially my high school students!) are apt to do. I did not particularly like the planets in a bottle activity as it was geared toward younger students and my students would probably think it was too simplistic. I would also add to this lesson the recent discovery of lava flows by researchers in Hawaii, which adds an additional connection to plate tectonics, not only on Earth, but on Mars as well. I do like the lesson on extremophiles as these are such interesting organisms. As we briefly discussed life in the universe, I explained to my students that for a while, we have assumed that life cannot exist under extreme conditions, yet we have been proven wrong time and again. For example, we thought that life could only exist with sunlight (photosynthesis), yet scientists discovered life at the bottom of the ocean where sunlight doesn’t exist. Bacteria near hydrothermal vents thrive off of the chemicals spewed out by the vents. So why do we assume that life cannot exist without water, or oxygen, somewhere out in the universe? How do we know that life has not “evolved” to take advantage of some other “resource” that will help them survive? However, as much as I like the use of technology in the classroom, I have a difficult time using web searches in my lessons during class time since can be tricky to manges. Oftentimes websites don’t work, internet goes down, computers in our lab are used for testing, and generally, after about 15-20 minutes, students get off-task and start checking emails or check on other websites. I don’t mind, however, assigning work requiring the internet for homework where students can use their own time to look for information on the internet. In summary, this was a good SciGuide for students to learn about the environment in space, and especially on Mars. The information itself is interesting and has lots of connections to things we learn about Earth.

Tue May 15, 2012 3:20 AM
3 Severe Weather Sci Guide
This was an interesting Guide. In Hawaii, we generally don't have weather that is too severe. However, this year was quite relevant as we had a week of "weird" weather that included thunderstorms, hail, even a rare water spout that moved inland and became a tornado. That said, I used the tornado activity for my part of my unit on severe weather. I had to buy the video and had to make sure that it had closed captioning since I have a hearing impaired student. I "talked up" the movie to get my students excited about watching it, and on the day of the movie I announced that I wanted to instill empathy and compassion for others (my hearing impaired student), and played the video without sound for 20 minutes (parent gave permission to do so). Obviously, students were a bit upset and "uncomfortable" with it, which was exactly what I was shooting for. I used the chart provided by the lesson where students were to describe the scene, describe the phenomenon, your observation, an experts opinion, and "how did I do." My instructions were to jot down all the scientific inaccuracies that you observe, and look up how true they are using the internet. Big mistake--as much as I tried to specify to look for inaccuracies related to the tornadoes, the students focused on the inaccuracies of the special effects (car driving through a huge fire, people being sucked out by the tornado, but not the farm animals). To remedy this, I should have made simpler, and more specific headings on their chart. For example, the headings should be Tornado inaccuracies, experts opinion, website, how did I match up with the experts. I did show the whole video to the students, which took 2 whole days to do. This was a bit too much time, but I was a little ahead in my schedule and wanted my students to enjoy the movie. In the future, if time is short, I could definitely show just the relevant parts and skip the fluff. In the future, I'm not so sure I would repeat this activity. If I do, I would definitely be more specific as to what to look for /observe, and be more structured in terms of what I want from them