Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from February, 2016

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Use Large Group Instruction

This blog owes a lot of inspiration from this post by George Couros.



Sometimes as a teacher I have to deliver content to a large group.  Today, in AP Physics 2 was a good example.  We are covering magnetic force.  I can predict the force and motions experienced by an object when acted on by a magnetic field.

This is a very complicated topic that students can't experiment with at the atomic level. I can set up a demonstration that shows what happens at a macroscopic level but it doesn't help students understand what is happening at the subatomic level.
The biggest difficulty is not mathematics. It is spacial reasoning and conceptualizing what is happening. It is a process which involves "right-hand rules" which provide simple models for how charges behave in a magnetic field. Here is a sample question students learned today from scratch.


Ok, enough with the physics talk. What is my point?
I feel that as educators, the current wisdom is telling us that we should not have…

Feedback and Revision Cycles

At a recent school PD session, it was announced that we will be revisiting grading practices in an effort to come to agreement on common practices as a staff.  I admire our administration for taking on this issue.  Grading practices are something that most staff don’t like having open conversations about, myself included.  I feel like I always need to be able to defend my position and I should be.  So, the point of this post is to help me frame my beliefs as it comes to opportunities for students to receive feedback and act on that feedback.
This diagram below is an attempt to summarize the process I allow students in my classroom when it comes to a particular learning outcome.



I recently revised my objective rubrics to follow a 0-4 scale based on Bloom’s Taxonomy verbs.
4 Synthesize multiple pieces 3 Analyze unique information 2 Apply understanding 1 Explain basics
The key to this process is providing students feedback and giving them the opportunity for reassessment.  The result of the reasses…

Fury Road

What happens when you put fast cars on HD video?




Well it might not be quite the same, but this is pretty cool, too.



I recently listened to a podcast in which Vicki Davis interviewed physics teacher Ben Owens. He exclaimed how the beginning units of physics instruction can get very rote and bogged down in mathematics becoming more about the numbers than about the process and what it means. Check out more on that great episode here.
In my new term of AP Physics 1, there is a strong temptation to burn through the content in preparation for our AP test in May.  The content I would usually have 18 weeks to cover I only have 12 weeks to cover due to the scheduling of the AP testing. I may end up doing some more traditional forms of instruction as we get closer to the test, but I want the first experiences with physics content to be engaging ones.  I want students to be able to “get it” and be engaged.  Like any good story or song, you need a hook.  
Luckily, I didn't have to look far for my…

My Bloggy of Evidence

So I've been writing this blog for about 13 months now.  Just wanted to take the time to reflect on why I started and where it has taken me.

There were two main reasons I started blogging.  The first was to force myself to reflect on my practice.  I am very good about thinking random thoughts about why I do what I do and how I feel the day went.  But these thoughts never make it to the concrete or conclusion level.  They are left as disconnected or half thought ideas floating around in my head.  Strands that may never be tied together and I'll have to start anew because I never took the time to take them down.

The process of writing or planning a post forces me to communicate these thoughts in a way that may not make sense to the world, but at the very least make sense to me and can be picked up by me to carry a little bit further.

The other main reason I ended up starting this blog process was to keep track of my evidence and create arguments around my evidence for the educ…

Maker space Baby Steps: Putting It All Out There

We all have an idea where we want to take our classroom.  We all have a vision.  It cannot be accomplished overnight.  For some innovations, we need to take baby steps.





I've been intrigued by the idea of Maker Spaces for a long time. Why? I love the idea of a space where students can experiment with the design process and have a large variety of tools and materials at their disposal.  The idea of truly giving students voice and choice is made physical.  That is why I am so intrigued about making my classroom into this type of physical space.

One of the first activities I have my physics students do is build a vehicle that will accelerate powered by a mousetrap of rubber band. Over the years, I've been collecting tools and scraps required for the construction.  When we started construction this week, it felt very different.





Last term, my department head purchased an open storage system for many of my classroom supplies.  So these building supplies that used to be in closed dra…

Real Time Whiteboard

I have spent a long time looking for a free, real-time, collaborative whiteboard that can be used on tablets, chromebooks, PCs, and Macs and have been let down again and again.  Until I ran across Realtime Board.  I wasn't sure at first until I discovered that they provide FREE accounts for educators.  I have been using it for a week and have been loving it.

1) It is web based sand works on my class iPads, student Chromebooks, and my teacher desktop.

2) It's easy to create a new board.


3) On any board you can upload a variety of media files or files directly from the web.


4) There are a variety of pre-made templates you can work from.



5) Drawing and erasing is very easy.  I love using a stylus on my iPad ( although Steve Jobs wouldn't approve) when showing work for calculations. 


6) Create shapes, add text, and link them. Great for mind mapping!


7) Realtime Board can be lined to your Google Apps For Education account so you can create new boards directly from Drive.

8) Yo…

Leveling up My Rubrics

I experimented with doing this blog post via a hashtag and storifying it.



[View the story "Leveling Up My Rubrics" on Storify]