OK, maybe I’m in the minority, but I really like Back to School Nights. I appreciate the parents taking time out of their busy lives to come in and get a sense of who is teaching their students.
Tonight was no different. Great parents, lots of appreciation expressed, and a few good questions thrown in (not much time in ten minutes to ask questions).
Unfortunately, as usual, the higher academic classes have higher turnout of parents. Why? I can speculate about amount of free time, ability to get off work early, etc. But in the end, I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault (I suspect that all parents want their kids to be successful in school), it’s just a reality.
Thanks to all the parents who did make it out (and thanks to all those who didn’t for trusting your students in my care).
I have been making many video tutorials for my science classes in the last few years, and some folks have asked how I create them. I have gone through a process of changes, so I thought I’d present the options I have used to create them.
My students had a short quiz, and I wanted to make sure they all had plenty of time to complete it. I thought it would take them about 20 minutes to finish it (most finished in 15-20 minutes), but wanted to allow plenty of time for students who require ‘extra time’ (whether LD diagnosed and on an IEP or not diagnosed). I set the timer for 30 minutes, and, since my school is a BYOD school (every student has a computer of some kind), I created an assignment on our learning management system (Schoology, see screenshot below).
Before the quiz, I spoke with my students about what I was doing, sharing my concern with being able to provide in-class time for students who need extra time, but not having those who finish quickly sit around waiting for others to finish. Most of them understood and thought this was a good idea.
And, when the moment of truth arrived, when most were done with the quiz, the class was still pretty quiet. No students whispering to each other (well, only occasionally), and most working on their chemistry.
Of course, I should do this all the time, but sometimes I forget. Today was an example of the importance of a complete lesson plan.
In working with my students’ perceptions of the periodic table, I wrapped a periodic table around a roll of paper towels. My attempt was to get them to realize that the Alkali metals are actually right next to the Noble gasses. I wasn’t sure if it was working, but in our review leading up to the finals one girl mentioned that it was a spiral–so I guess it’s helping some students.
Below is a video showing a periodic table spinning around on a turntable. I recommend downloading the video and using VLC Media Player, Quicktime, or some other viewer that allows you to scroll the video back and forth.
The table I used comes from ptable.com, a great resource for online and printable periodic tables.
Here are a couple other 3D ‘tables’ that email list folks have let me know about:
Over a decade ago I made a Quatro-Pro spreadsheet to make quick calculations from masses on the periodic table. Well, now Excel rules the roost, so I created a similar version using Excel. The fundamental element of the spreadsheet is that the cell with each mass is given a name that is the symbol for the element. So, for example, instead of having to remember which cell the mass of oxygen is in (C9, in this case), you only need to type in O.
The only element that doesn’t work with its symbol is carbon.Excel will not allow a cell to be named just “C”, so I had to use “CC” instead.
To calculate the mass of water, just type if =h*2+o (letters can be UPPER or lower case)
For hydrochloric acid, type =h+cl
Copper nitrate: =Cu+N*2+O*6
Carbon dioxide =CC+O*2 (this is an example of the carbon exception from above).
OK, I admit it: I can get sucked into the vacuum of social media and find myself having spent more time on it than I desire. Last December, with grades coming due, I decided to take a ‘vacation’ from Facebook. I’ve largely been off it for about seven weeks (I did jump on a few times to arrange my annual birthday dinner), and while there are things I miss (mostly family updates), I’m thinking of continuing my vacation, or maybe just checking in with some of my groups once a week.
But then there’s Twitter. I largely use Twitter for my professional development. I’m a teacher, and I follow many people/organizations that provide me with great tools to use in my classroom; and likewise I share many resources with those who follow me. But, how do I avoid getting sucked into this vacuum of learning–I can justify the time spent because the links I follow are mostly valuable.
Some tools I have used:
Set myself a time limit (and try to stick to it).
Ask myself “Do I really need to follow this link?”
Don’t feel bad if I decide to “Unfollow” someone.
What tools/tips do you use/have? Please share yours in the comments below.
Yesterday, I lead two short workshops on Modeling Instruction at the National Science Teachers Association area conference in Reno, Nevada. About 30 people attended the first one, and about 20 the second (about half of whom had been at the first one as well). As in many good physics activities, this included going outside (the floor in the conference room was carpeted, so the balls didn’t bounce well on it).
In the first workshop, I introduced the Bouncing Ball lab, which offers an introductory activity that focuses on developing students’ understanding of lab design and data analysis.
The second workshop introduced the Buggy Lab, that helps students develop a model for constant velocity motion.