Day 143: Closing the Gaps

Today was an institute day. If you think students are challenging the day before they start spring break, you should see a school full of burned-out teachers.

This first-half of the day focused on sharing some of the work of our Science Curriculum Team with the rest of the district science teachers. We on the team are still struggling to keep our Next Generation Science Standards’s disciplinary core ideas straight from our performance expectations. Other teachers have a lot of anxiety and questions about what the fall of 2015 will be like when the new curriculum starts. Unfortunately, we on the team have few answers at this point. Regardless, it was good to hear everyone’s questions. We also watched one of the NGSS Bozeman videos:

The rest of the day was spent as a faculty discussing recommendations from our “Closing the Gaps” committee. Understanding the context in which many of our students are struggling compared to their peers is an incredibly important topic, and I’m pleased the entire faculty participated in the discussion. It is a tough discussion for the limited time we had and the day before break starts. I personally learned a lot and have a better understanding of the challenges these students face and the challenges we face in our efforts to “close the gap.”

Day 142: Charged Particle Model Whiteboarding

Today was the last day before spring break. It was a good day to summarize our development of the charged particle model (CPM). Whiteboards were really good; I’m impressed with the level of understanding that they have developed in this unit. One student was his own group as his two partners were absent. He did a fantastic job whiteboarding this 2D problem involving balanced forces:

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  ##cpm ##whiteboarding  

Day 141: Van der Graaf Generator

Today in Honors Physics, I introduced Coulomb’s Law. Given tomorrow’s forecast for the last day before spring break, I decided to also break out the Van der Graaf generator. I would have preferred to wait until the introduction of electric fields to play with the Van der Graaf generator, but I feared it would be much less impressive as the weather warms and the rain falls. Hopefully, students will remember some of the demonstrations and connect it to electric fields after we return from break. We had okay, but not stellar, results:

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Day 140: The Infamous Electrophorus!

Honors Physics students tackled the electrophorus lab practicum today. Historically, this lab practicum has been a challenge for students for a couple of reasons. Some are not careful with their technique or observations. Others, struggle to believe what they observe and substitute their assumptions for their observations. Specifically, students really struggle to believe their observation that the metal plate when placed on the charged based of the electrophorus does not become charged via conduction.

To keep everyone honest, we have two different kinds of setups that we place side-by-side. Remarkably, the pink insulating foam and pie plate with styrofoam cup handle electrophorus that I made works better than the “official” electrophorus apparatus purchased years ago!

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  ##cpm ##practicumlab  

Day 138: Parent-Teacher Conferences

Last night and this morning were parent-teacher conferences. I really enjoy having at least some time to talk with parents, even if slots are only 5 minutes long. I’ve decided that conferences are more effective if they are parent-teacher-student conferences. I need to encourage students to attend conferences next year.

I hold my conferences in the Physics Prep Room. It is the storage area between rooms 144 and 142. Many parents looking for my colleague in room 143 understandably stop, and I direct them around the corner and into the stairwell. I have no understanding of why several classrooms are numbered the way they are!

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Day 137: Institute Day

At today’s institute day, we had the opportunity to select three different sessions from among fifteen that were offered in three different time slots. The variety was wonderful, and, due to the number of teachers presenting, most teachers only presented once and were free to attend other sessions during the other two time slots. The presentations that I attended were fantastic, and I heard nothing but positive comments from other teachers.

I shared a basic introduction to Evernote with a focus on how it can be used to collect enrichment materials that are then easily shared with students. The presentation was similar to the Sharing Resources with Students via Evernote post.

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