One of my biggest goals for this year (if I have a job) is to continue down the path of less notes and more inquiry. While I was pretty happy with how things went last year in my first full year of teaching, it was easy to identify areas for improvement. In particular, I thought that in Physics 12 we spent too much time doing notes. Physics 11 was more collaborative but perhaps too de-contextualized.
I have been reflecting on how I taught Physics 12 last year, and I’m not super happy with how much lecturing I did. In the big picture it probably wasn’t too bad and I didn’t give a lot of notes (which is a good thing). I used peer instruction from time to time, and I liked how that turned out. In contrast to this, Physics 11 is much more inquiry based course, which is great.
I recently had a discussion with a classmate of mine about the Flipped Classroom, and I think my comments are worth sharing. In our discussion, I pointed out a couple of problems I have with the FC, which deal with a few fundamental issues in education. I should start off with saying that I do agree with the idea of moving the long lecture outside of the classroom. Where I disagree with the FC is that the lecture, or its replacement, should be moved home.
While going through some of my favorite education blogs I came across this post on pseudoteaching. It seems that pseudoteaching was spawned from pseudocontext, which talks about how contrived and non-realistic scenarios are presented to students as being real-life examples. For example, a math question where some convoluted set of circumstances between Joey, Joey’s cash and Joey’s shopping list means that the student has to solve a word problem. I think the idea of pseudoteaching takes this concept a bit further.
I’ve been incorporating “clicker” questions into my physics classes this year, and so far I would say it’s been a success. There are ups and downs while using them, but overall the process is working pretty good. However, yesterday’s class really got me thinking about how to optimize my process. First of all, here is a brief on how I use clicker questions in class. We don’t have clickers. Instead, I’ve been using Poll Everywhere.
One thing that I’ve been thinking about lately is how peer instruction or other attempts to get away from pseudoteaching can be applied to junior science classes. For example, yesterday I started a Grade 8 science unit on Water. I really like this unit because it has a lot of relevance for the kids and a good number of opportunities for both lab inquiries and outdoor experiential trips. However, I can’t help think that the actual learning of the topics is firmly grounded in reading and scientific literacy.