In this episode, we hear from Raymond Howanski from outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He talks about the reasons his district changed the order of their science classes to begin with physics before progressing to chemistry and finally biology. He talks about the additional topics they can cover in a biology course when students already understand the chemistry involved in processes. Ray also talks a lot about building community in the classroom and connecting with a community of like-minded educators.
Raymond Howanski has been an educator for 32 years, all of them in the Ridley school district outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He worked with a team of educators to transition his school to a physics, chemistry, biology sequence. He has been working for a number of years refining the capstone biology course to leverage students’ knowledge of chemistry, and using modeling pedagogy.
[4:14] Mark Royce, quoting Raymond Howanski: “Effective teaching is as much about knowing your students as knowing your content”
[18:18] Raymond Howanski on what drives them in developing these modeling biology curricular materials: “it’s really about that vision of saying, okay, what experience can we give these, these students to challenge their thinking and to give, give them opportunities to really practice and problem-solving and some effective communication skills and collaboration. How do we really challenge them to do that at a high level, uh, and kind of leading them into a path of success somewhere, somewhere down the road. “
[29:16] Raymond Howanski: “thinking about modeling at the philosophical level, …what can you do when you really work with open-minded, caring people, towards the goal of helping students learn science better.
So that, kind of makes it all worthwhile.”
[31:56] Raymond Howanski: “It’s a lot more than just modeling.”
[37:52] Raymond Howanski: “so then when you start connecting with other folks that have really innovative and thoughtful ideas about how we can rethink providing those learning environments for students and kind of breaking those barriers that are sometimes, somewhat confining, given students an opportunity to really explore and, and express their thinking about what they’re looking at and setting a solid foundation so students don’t have, so they have a clear path to a deeper understanding… so to remove some of the obstacles that we’ve sometimes placed in their way in terms of getting to deeper investigations of the physical world. And, a lot of that is trust. It’s trusting that students will, in fact, fill in the gaps and they will figure things out that it’s not about us giving them all the answers.”