Day 25: Flashmob!

All week we had secret practices. We didn’t talk about it. Then we pulled it off with more than 60% of the staff voluntarily participating; The Shakopee High School 2012 Pep Fest Staff Flashmob.

Day 24: An SBG moment


Yesterday I gave my students a ‘quiz,’ and told them it wasn’t graded. Today I gave it back to them. They bombed it, and they spent 20 minutes working together in their groups to fix them. They learned a lot.

Me: Isn’t it great to have a quiz that’s not graded?
Them: Yeah! (seriously, they were excited about it).

I wish I could do SBG with this class, but it’s articulated through the University of Minnesota. At least I can give lots of my own ungraded quizzes for them to learn from…

Day 23: Formative Assessment (and a Pirate)


Yesterday Dan posted on his 180 blog that he used some ranking problems in his Physics class. I asked if I could steal it, and he promptly emailed me the file. Turns out that it is in Schober’s modeling docs; I have been using the originals. But anyway…

I decided to steal and modify, so I changed them into velocity vs time graphs to see if my kids could find distance and displacement from them. They can’t. We had white boarded v vs. t graphs with their integrals and found that they were equal to the displacement, but we hadn’t deployed yet…I was curious if they could figure this out without formal deployment. Nope, good to know. Tomorrow I will had them back with some minor feedback, remind them that they can find the area under the graphs to find the displacement, and have them work in their group to re-do them.

On a completely unrelated note, it turns out Ben, who I teach with, is a pirate.

Day 22: More Love for the Mix of Technology and Modeling


Last week we had gotten to a point where we were just starting to figure out how x vs t and v vs t graphs work for a car moving down an incline. I had originally planned on using the whiteboards from last week to continue the discussion today (I was gone at a conference yesterday), but instead I decided that 1) the students really needed better data anyway (they are not careful enough yet when clicking for video analysis in LoggerPro), and 2) we really could continue that conversation by moving on to objects that were launched rather than dropped. I had some ramps set up and I had two groups go to each ramp, so that one would drop their cart and one would launch their cart. We then got through discussion on the v vs. t graphs today.

It is super exciting to me that I don’t have to worry about reserving a lab or moving all my students somewhere when we want to re-investigate something. Having 10 laptops in my room makes for a much more authentic scientific experience, because if we don’t see what we need to in the data we revise and try again (of course, never completely discarding the odd data, always trying to figure out why it turns out the way it does). I love teaching Physics!

Day 21: A Way to Organize Tutorials


Today I am at a workshop for teachers on using iPads in the classroom. I am here with a number of teachers from our district, including Doug, the Technology Integration Specialist for elementary (I hold that position for secondary). I have been thinking for a while about where I would like to house tutorials that I create for teachers and Doug made a suggestion that really resonated with me. Symbaloo is a web-based bookmarking tool that organizes your bookmarks into ‘webmixes’ that are visual. Thus we can have a webmix for Google Apps, one for SMART, etc, and link them all together from one home webmix. Cool.

Day 20: Extensions of the classroom



I have used discussion forums for the last 4-5 years to extend learning outside the classroom. I particularly like the fact that I often see students who don’t say much in class who really find their voice in an online setting. In the past my forums have been fairly structured with the focus on current science, with a grade attached. I decided that I should try using a forum this year with my advanced class to go into some discussion that we don’t have time for in class. Over the last couple of weeks some other physics educators and I (we ‘met’ via Twitter) have been working on developing a formative assessment we could all give to our students so we could compare results PLC style. I have debated for a while what to do with my kids with the results, and one of the things I decided was to use the responses to discuss online how to be clear and concise. The picture above is the start of the first of these discussions. 

Additionally, as an edtech specialist this year I have worked with a number of other educators who also wish to extend learning outside the classroom. This morning I spent quite a bit of time learning with the media specialist at our 6th grade center, which resulted in a wiki for her morning book club for 6th grade students, among other things. She has 75 kids signed up! Too awesome.  


Day 19: Technology: It was all worth it!


Yesterday I spent an hour or so problem solving why LoggerPro wouldn’t allow us to insert videos. Today I spent an hour and a half uninstalling and reinstalling LoggerPro so that it also installed quicktime. Before this I had to spend 2-3 hours problem solving network connections with the damn things.

It was all worth it today.

Today my last class was having a board meeting, looking at v vs. t graphs for carts released from rest moving down an incline. Some groups had curved v vs. t graphs, others had linear. Discussion ensued. Is it curved because yours is a shallow ramp? Longer? What makes one curved and one linear? One person gave an elaborate and well phrased description of how it would make sense if the graphs curved, as something going down a hill speeds up slowly at first and then faster towards the end. The other students bought it.

I looked at the clock. If I did this we wouldn’t ‘get where we needed to be.’ I decided it was worth it. I had the groups go back to their computers and reload their video onto a new LoggerPro file. Then I told them to be very careful when they clicked as the cart went down the ramp. All but one group got nice, linear velocity graphs; the group that did not was skipping 4-5 frames for each click, so I asked them to fill in their data with more clicks. Sure enough, linear.

In the past I would have either told them it was ‘supposed’ to be linear or we would have had to come back to it on a day that we could reserve the computer lab. Now we were able to instantaneously, scientifically determine the answer to the question at hand. Awesome.