The Case Against Independent Schools in BC

With some upcoming elections in Vancouver I figure now is as good as time as any to discuss indepenedent schools in BC. For those that aren’t clear, “independent” is synomomus with “private.” There’s my first beef with the idea. Everyone knows that people don’t like the term “private school” so they changed the name. It reminds me of how fundamentalist Christians weren’t allowed to teach Creationism in public schools anymore so they changed the name to “Intelligent Design.

180 Day Photo Blog

I have many more updated posts on my 180 day photo blog which can be found here: https://bcphysics180.wordpress.com/

New Projectors

As we prepare to move into a new building next fall, I’ve been thinking about the projectors that we’ll have in the new classrooms. We are leaving our old ones behind, and for good reason. Not only do they not perform as well as new ones but the replacement bulbs are outrageously expensive. My projector bulb is on its last legs (dim, many colours aren’t shown), and a new bulb costs $400.

New blog posts

I’ve been making smaller posts on a separate blog here: http://bcphysics180.wordpress.com The idea is to post a picture and a vignette for every day of the year. They’re just short reflections on things that happened during the day. I have benefitted from reading other peoples’ 180 blogs and I thought it would be good for me (and hopefully for some readers) if I did one too. I’m still trying to figure out the best types of posts to make.

To Print or Not To Print

I give out notes to my classes. Lots of notes. That is to say, I hand out notes rather than spend precious class time having my students copy them out. I think my system works pretty well. The notes contain some blank spaces that we fill in together, which I hope activates some cognition and gives students focus points. Research says that partial notes are a good compromise between activating cognition, using time wisely and ensuring that the notes get copied correctly (references upon request - I’d have to dig them up).

Installing Python

Let’s suppose you’re interested in learning about Python, or want to install it on your computer for the first time. If you have a 64bit OS, I strongly suggest that you install the 32bit version. I’m certainly no expert in Python, but I think this is the best way to avoid possible headaches in the future. Like the headache I’ve been dealing with… As mentioned before, I’ve been fooling around with some basic computational modeling using Python, VPython and Scratch.

Hi Speed Video Camera

I’ve studied video as learning tool in science and physics for while, and I’m convinced that digital video can placed at the upper end of useful technologies used in education. I don’t necessarily mean for making screencasts, but using video as an analysis tool. Frank Noschese has shown several examples of using video on his blogs, including these hi-speed videos found on Action-Reaction and Frank’s Posterous post on colliding carts. As well, I wrote a paper on this topic and if you’re a glutten for punishment you can read it here on Scribd.

New Website Launch!

I’ve decided to move my website over to Wordpress, as WP is so much easier to work with. I originally created my PoL website as both a blog and an ePortfolio. However, I decided to create my own hardcoded ePortfolio website, and the reasons for keeping the Joomla site were almost non-existent. I’ll be tweaking this blog over the next couple of weeks but this is essentially what my PoL website will look like.

Veldhuis and Merit Pay

On this past Wednesday’s show of BC Almanac, Niels Veldhuis from the Fraser Institute was the guest and he was speaking about merit pay for teachers (if the CBC link is broken, leave a comment and I can probably post a new link). Once again I was infuriated by the Fraser Institute’s interest in this topic. There are so many flaws with the argument that it makes my head spin. I think Veldhuis’ main points were as follows:

Falcon and Merit Pay

Last week Kevin Falcon went on record with adding merit pay for teachers as part of his platform for his leadership bid. Seeing as it comes from Falcon, it’s no surprise that I have a few issues with his ideas. To begin with, I don’t know Falcon’s motives for merit pay. Is it to save money, to get better teaching, or something else? From the reports I’ve seen summarized, research has shown that merit pay does nothing to improve teaching or learning.