This year I had students use Excel for plotting graphs in physics. I went pretty good for constant velocity but very awkward for constant acceleration. It required students to manually find tangent lines on their x-t graphs, calculate slopes, then put it all together coherently to produce a v-t graph. There are lots of things going on in this task and while I think many physics teachers see value in this, I also think that performing all the manual steps the confounds foundation ideas in the constant acceleration model.
I started this year determined to go all in for Office 365. Things I was hoping to leverage: VSB outlook emails so I would never have to collect student email addresses and students would always be able to re-set their passwords OneNote notebook sharing so our day-to-day agenda, topics covered, handouts and notes would be instantly available to students Forms to take care of soliciting student ideas or input OneDrive for sharing Excel and Word files with me So far things have not been working out super great.
My classes just finished doing a conservation of momentum lab. In many ways it was a big disappointment. We ended up spending 2-1/2 classes on the lab, with little to show for it. The general idea was to record position and time data from 6 videos (6 different types of collisions), calculate velocities and momentum, and compare total momentum before and after. There were lots of problems with this: Students would make mistakes in recording data or making a calculation, and every mistake helps to obscure the goal of seeing that total momentum doesn’t change.
I was going through some emails I have from a listserv I subscribe to and I came across a conversation we had earlier this year about Chromebooks vs real computers (forgive my cheeky provocation). Below I have copied a message sent to the listserv that summarizes the struggle I see happening around our schools. I personally haven’t had to deal much with the chromebook vs PC purchasing quandry, mostly because we can’t afford any devices, full stop.
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.
Although I could make a list of 10 uses for old toothpaste tubes in a classroom, I think it would be a waste of time and pretty much useless. Afterall, I have no pedagogical need to use toothpaste tubes in my classrooms and even if I had one use for them I doubt I could think of 10 good uses. The same goes for the “10 uses for in your classroom” blog posts and online articles.
Yesterday Linda Kwan was nice enough to give me and my VP a tour of her wireless projector at UHill Secondary. I’ve had some trepidation on our upcoming wireless system and was really interested in seeing a wireless projector in action. Linda was able to demonstrate just how well the Epson wireless software interacts with the Brightlink projector, and it was great to see the system working. The LAN connected quickly without any hitches.