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Letter: A Lesson In Teacher-Student Relations

My name is Patricia Block. I teach sixth and seventh grade students at Salk Middle School in Levittown. I’d like to share a lesson I did with my colleague, Mrs. Clingen, that stood out to me as brilliant demonstration of teachers working closely with students to help them succeed in the classroom. I think it is important to share some insight into one class through one experiment that takes part within a full day of learning so many different things.

This lesson was an experiment entitled, “M&Ms Melt in Your Mouth, Not in Your Hand and Here’s Why....”.

In this experiment Mrs. Block and Mrs. Clingen’s classes applied all they learned about the scientific method; a universal scientific theory that is used in all levels of education and in laboratories in the real world to validate experiments. The scientific method outlines a method of study including a hypothesis, rigorous data collection, and drawing conclusions. This theory compels students to make observations, think about why the things they observed happens, and how all that relates to experiences we have in real life.

The amazing students observed, documented, and graphed data about how and why M&Ms shed their shell. They used water submersion to mimic conditions in the mouth. The time submerged under water, temperature of the water, and color of the M&Ms all apply to why M&Ms melt in your mouth, and not in your hand. The students worked in small groups and were able to discuss with each other what they saw, why the saw it, and what that means regarding their hypotheses. It was noted that the darker colored M&Ms that were submerged in warmer water for longer amounts of time melted most quickly. Mrs. Clingen and myself were amazed at how engrossed each student was in the experiment.

Our district’s policy is “Success for all students.” In my opinion, I think this policy can be extended out to “Success for all teachers” as well. The two go hand in hand. A teacher is successful when their students are successful. This lesson is one example of how teachers use a subject matter that fascinates students to help them understand a challenging theory, such as the scientific method. At Salk Middle School there is no doubt that my colleagues and I are teaching our general education, special education, and enriched students with the utmost respect and expect nothing less from them but achievements made individually-not compared to other students.

As teachers, we are under tremendous stress by the New York State Core Curriculum standards. I’d like to say that each day, our teachers are planning, and teaching with the students’ best interest at heart. We work closely with the students to design lessons that lead to their success and a bright future.

Thank you for allowing me to take you through a lesson plan that showcases the student-teacher dynamic, where the teacher teaches so the student is able to understand and think for themselves.

Patricia Block