One thing that I’ve struggled with for years is trying to fit in the curricular content for physics 11. I know that I’m weeks behind most physics teachers in BC. I always start the year off with the best intentions with planning, and the planning is generally ok in that I remain focused on the goals and sequence.* I’m interested in trying to improve my sequence and scheduling so that it is appropriate in coverage and understanding, and accomplishes what I want it to, recognizing that unit planning is a personal thing even when working within the guidelines of the set curriculum.
Ok, I’m going to say it. I’m done with field trips. Not quite because I don’t think they have value but because of the downstream consequences of them. You see, I hate it when students miss class. I think missing a class is generally really bad, worse than not doing an assignment or homework. I can think of 4 different field trips I’ve taken students on. The classic trip is taking physics 11 to PlayLand, along with taking science 8 to playland.
I’ve been asking many of my grade 11 students what their ideal math lesson would look like. Not in terms of content, but in terms of process. I wanted to focus this question on math instead of science because I didn’t want to confound typical learning activities with demonstrations and experiments. Most of the students cited very similar ideas, as follows: take up questions about homework or last day’s work connect the new material to what they were working on last day possibly give some notes give (lots of) examples have them try some practice questions #1 above was universal, all students started with this.
One thing I’ve been trying to implement more and more into my units are Performance Tasks. McTighe and Wiggins in their Understanding by Design framework say that a Performance Task is an authentic assessment where students demonstrate the desired understandings. In my context, I currently use small SBG quizzes for the bulk of my assessments. Jay McTighe, who I had the pleasure and privilege of having lunch with, would probably call my quizzes “supplementary” evidence.
I came across a paper on Piaget cognitive levels and learning in physics. There were lots of interesting things to think about from this paper but one thing in particular caught my attention. The concept behind this paper is that people go through stages of cognitive development. In high school we typically get students that arrive with concrete operational thinking, and they hopefully leave as formal operational thinkers. The following two math problems are good ok examples for comparing concrete to formal.
Since the BC government announced changes to the graduation requirements for students in BC, I’ve read quite a lot of different ideas about what this means for students and our society as a whole. Lots of the discussion revolves around student learning and university acceptance. First of all, I think a lot of people outside of the educational community don’t realize the current state of provincial exams. 4 of the 5 exams being canceled are in grades 10 and 11, most grade 12 exams were removed 10 years ago.
The topic of Midyear exams has been raised at our secondary school with a lot of opposition to the school not conducting them. There at least three views pitted against each other: teachers that want midyear exams, the board administration which doesn’t want to make accommodations for midyear exams, and teachers which don’t want midyear exams. History I can’t give a detailed history on midyear exams but I can give a brief overview.
On our local math listserv there was a post recently pointing to reports on the positive benefits of having kids do homework. Here is one link to the report, although I came across this report from multiiple sources. The idea is that research shows that students perform better if they do homework, and that countries whose students do more homework also do better on OECD testing. One such test would is the PISA math test.
Over the past 4 years I’ve used several different platforms for classroom websites including wikispaces, wordpress and moodle. They each have strengths and weaknesses, and they all have one thing in common: it takes a lot of work to keep them updated throughout the year. By the end of this year I was taxed out and unsure if I was willing to continue with class websites, the reason being that I wasn’t convinced that my students really used them very much.
I regularly come across blog posts, twitter posts, and comments on BYOD and how students should use smartphones in school. Smartphones are occasionally used in my science and physics classes, and can offer some interesting opportunities. Smartphones are much more than learning devices though. For every one part of learning there is hidden in a smartphone, there are probably about 3 parts digital addiction. Phones in classes are driving me nuts.