Monday, September 12, 2011

Science at Sorenson’s Ranch School

My primary purpose as a science teacher at Sorenson’s Ranch School is to make science and technology go hand in hand. Field trips and hands-on experience helps me tremendously to accomplish this task.

Science teaches thinking skills which control our ability to succeed in life. Without these critical thinking skills, the ability to become successful is greatly decreased. So many new technologies are springing up everywhere. It’s my job as a science teacher to create the opportunity for learning in this space-age environment.

I also desire that students feel a learning atmosphere in my classroom. They always need to feel free to ask any question that they desire. Learning should be a life-long skill that enhances life.

Mastery learning is rapidly becoming a necessity as a part of today’s and tomorrow’s workforce. Skills are becoming more specialized and students need to know how to be self-directed learners.

Science can teach them to think and analyze problems through the use of the scientific method. This method teaches them to become that self-directed learner. Students need to feel that their instructors care about their learning. Once they feel that caring atmosphere, they will actually begin to care about their own learning.

In summary, teaching at Sorenson’s Ranch School is rewarding, challenging, and fruitful as we see students change and grow.

Steve Nielson
Spanish & Science Teacher
Sorenson’s Ranch School

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sorenson's Ranch School New Technology!

New computers and a new program! The Technology Department here at Sorenson’s Ranch School recently updated its computer lab, complete with new Dell flat-screen computers, loaded with Office 2010 and Windows 7. We also have new workstations and an updated curriculum. Due to this update we are now teaching Windows 7 to our Computer Literacy students. Over the years, our students have left this program having learned many things that will help them in both educational and occupational pursuits. In order to continue that tradition, our administrators felt that it was time to update our program to reflect the most current computer systems that our students will likely be using when they leave.
Another phase of this transition, due to some personnel changes, was the inclusion of a new instructor. Ross Franks has been on our faculty for some time, in several capacities, and now will add Computer Literacy to his daily teaching schedule. Ross will maintain teaching assignments in other areas as well and is a welcome addition to this subject area. Ross understands the importance of technology in our modern world and the positive effects that a current and consistent syllabus can have on the learning environment in the classroom.
The new text-manuals we are using are interactive. Activities and lessons are broken down into the steps of the operation. Students are able to see, practice, experiment, and learn through a variety of activities that are designed with real-world application. Many of the steps have pictures of what should be appearing on the monitor as students progress through the lessons, so that they can check their work for accuracy as they go. The new program is complete with templates of many of the activities that students can open from a read-only disk, save the file to their own profile on their computer, and then complete the activity as outlined, saving it for future reference if needed. Students are able to experiment with not only manipulating the data in a given program, but also integrating programs and using the same set of data for a variety of applications in different programs. These text-manuals start with an overview of basic computer systems and then cover various other programs such as Windows Navigation, Word 2010, Excel, Access, and PowerPoint. The new manuals are well organized, detailed, and easy to understand for most of our students. The copyright date of 2011 ensures that they are current with industry standards and Utah State Core Standards as well.
Our students are adjusting quickly to the improvements in the program and seem to be pleased with our commitment to help them experience educational success. We realize that many of our students have struggled with academics in the past for various reasons. It is a focus of our program to help them have positive experiences during their time with us.