Saturday, May 28, 2016


Meyer family in our APIS hats.

Starting with this post and continuing for the next two years at a minimum, the content of this blog will begin to change a bit. I originally started "Disciplined Rebellion" as a way to share and organize my thoughts about science teaching. While I'll continue to write about this, I hope to broaden the scope of my topics a bit by sharing stories and reflections from my newest adventure: teaching science in Seoul, Korea.

Since I first became a teacher almost 15 years ago, I've wanted to teach abroad. I traveled internationally in college and realized quickly how little I knew about the world - and that I wanted to keep learning. Luckily, my husband, Dan, feels the same way about exploring the world, so I started researching how I could teach in a foreign country. In the midst of this, we had two children, who we knew we wanted to experience global travel as well, but not when they were too young.

This fall, when my boys were 11 and 8, Dan and I were talking about future opportunities for them and came to the conclusion that this would be the year I'd try to get an international teaching job. We felt the boys would be old enough to remember the experience, and they were starting to need more diverse opportunities than what our small, rural community could give them. Knowing that not many international schools hire teachers with families - and without a teaching spouse on top of that - I figured I'd work as hard as I could on my application this year, see where it took us, and then call it quits if it didn't work out.

I sent all of my teaching credentials to the University of Northern Iowa, which hosts an International Teaching Job Fair every winter. They shared my information with hundreds of schools, and I started getting interview requests from around the world. After a few Skype interviews, the offer I decided to accept was from Asia Pacific International School (APIS) in Seoul, Korea. I am very impressed with the vision of the school and excited about living in Seoul.

So, the Meyer family will be moving across the world at the end of July! Needless to say, the next couple of months will be very busy for us, but I'm hoping to share some of our experiences on this blog. So you might get to learn more about my family and personal life than you have in the past! Once I arrive at APIS, I will see how much they are comfortable with me sharing about my students and classroom. I will continue to blog about science teaching as well.

I'm very excited about where this journey will take my family, and me personally, as an educator. On my last day of classes here in Springfield, I gave all of my students a pair of chopsticks. I told them how I have always wanted to learn how to use chopsticks, but it was hard for me so I never stuck with it. Now that we'll be living in Seoul, I'm more determined than ever to become skilled in the use of chopsticks. So we bought a pair of metal chopsticks for each person in the family, and we've been practicing using them at every meal. It takes me about twice as long to eat my food, and I often get impatient and frustrated, but I'm making progress. I shared this with my students as a metaphor for my hopes for them. I told them to find that "thing" they're passionate about and work as hard as they can to fulfill their goals associated with that thing. It might be difficult or frustrating, but eventually progress will be made. On the chopsticks I gave my students, I attached a piece of paper with this quote:

"If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you." - Fred Devito
I know there will be stressful times in our move to Seoul and adjusting to a new home, job, and culture, but I am looking forward to the challenge and the changes in my own learning that will result.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

My Favorite Things, 3rd Edition

Every once in a while, I share a favorite website, book, and podcast that I’ve found useful for teaching science. This article is published in the MnSTA Newsletter and cross-posted here.

Website: HHMI Biointeractive.

If you are a Biology teacher and have not yet explored HHMI’s Biointeractive website, you will be amazed at the amount of information and number of classroom resources you’ll find there. Offering everything from videos to posters to interactive online labs, HHMI is a treasure chest of Biology-related content. Some of the resources I’ve used in my own Biology classes are the Gorongosa Food Web activity, video clips from The Making of the Fittest, the Neurophysiology Virtual Lab, and the DNA Transcription animation, just to name a few. I appreciate that HHMI is constantly updating the content on this website. If you want to receive weekly bulletins with current science news and the most recent Biointeractive resources, you can sign up for their email newsletter, “Biointeractive News.” All of these resources are offered free of charge to teachers.

Book: Biology Inquiries by Martin Shields.

This is an older book that I don’t open up very much any more, but it was the impetus for quite a few inquiry-based activities that I still use in my current Biology class. The book is divided into subject sections, such as “Science as Inquiry,” “The Cell,” and “Science in Personal and Social Perspectives.” For each of these sections, there are a handful of inquiry-based lessons related to the topic. Each activity lists materials, approximate time requirements, and a lesson outline, as well as including copies of any student handouts. In this way, the lessons are ready to go straight out of the book. However, I found Biology Inquiries to be most valuable as a launching point to consider a topic from a more inquiry-based perspective, then designing my own adaptation of the book’s activity. For example, in the “Interdependence of Organisms” section, there’s an activity entitled, “History of a Carbon Atom,” for which students write a creative story about all the different places a carbon atom could travel. I took this idea and transformed it into an outdoors QR code scavenger hunt that introduces my students to the Carbon Cycle, after which they write about their experiences. If you’re looking for a way to infuse more inquiry into your Biology class, this book is a terrific resource.

Podcast: Science Magazine Podcast from Science Magazine.

Once upon a time, I was lucky enough to have a friend with a subscription to Science. He would give me his old issues when he was done reading them. Eventually, he ended his subscription, and my time for reading journals started dwindling. Then I stumbled upon the Science Magazine Podcast, which I found was an even better solution than waiting for my friend’s old copies. This podcast covers current science research from the Science journal articles as well as other additional topics. It’s usually only 20 to 30 minutes long, so I can fit it in during a short commute, and the host of the podcast (Sarah Crespi) often interviews the scientists behind the journal articles. I find this a much more engaging experience than simply reading the article in the standard format. On the most recent episode I listened to, an experiment that used 3D-printed orchids to isolate pollinating preferences was described in such a fascinating way that I’m considering sharing it with my students to prompt discussion about experimental design. If you don’t already use an app to listen to podcasts, you can also download Science Magazine Podcast episodes online at