12 December 2008

This morning in physics...

Immediately following my previous blog post I saw this commercial. I mentioned to @mishelleyb that I found it interesting that there was no data given in the commercial. I found it remarkable that BK is so bold as to expect us to "swallow the Elephant whole". Burger King expects us to buy into the idea that 31 seconds of information is enough evidence to show that the Whopper "tastes" bettter than the Big Mac. My bias against the Big Mac notwithstanding, there is just not enough information in this short commercial to settle the issue. Besides, how do you measure taste anyway? BK's use of the commercial as a good argument against the Big Mac is something akin to using this rap video as a good argument to fund the LHC.

After watching the commercial, @mishelleyb came up with the brilliant idea of asking my students to analyze Burger King's experimental design. What was wrong with it? What was right with it? I also asked them to analyze the manner in which the data was presented. We had a very productive discussion during which my students found some flaws with Burger King's methods, in both design and presentation. We then went here and got some more information about their "cultural experiment" and revisited our tasks. We decided that while Burger King was not completely free from fault by serving us this ad, we at least got a view of a larger section of their data set and were able to mark a few of the issues we had with their methods off of the list.

It was very rewarding to collaborate with @mishelleyb, who teaches english, on a critical thinking assignment as well as discussing critical thinking with my students. As I told them, one of my goals in physics class is to make them better at analyzing evidence and sometimes just getting them to dig deep enough to find it. I'm afraid some of them may be dangerously close to being cynics and not accepting ANY evidence; but I do think I am at least pushing them towards "looking closer at evidence" before drawing a conclusion. Some of their cynical issues are mostly due to their maturity level; I think most of that will work itself out as they get older.

Overall, a rewarding day. Don't even get me started on Physical Science.

The end of week 17

It's Friday morning and I couldn't be happier. I have been sitting here thinking about exactly what to do concerning a request from my school district. In Oklahoma, we have "Superintendent's Technology Day at the Captiol". My district has asked if there is something I could showcase which shows how I use technology in my classroom. I have some thoughts, but I was looking at last years presenters and I don't know that I can even be in the same "class" with these people. There is an elementary school in Pershing that makes a news cast everyday! How in the world do I compete with that? I don't want to go and look like some kind of 'Johnny come lately".
I just saw a commercial on tv for Burger King in which the "Whopper Virgins" appear to overwhelmingly choose the Whopper. I see some serious flaws in the design of their experiment and in the methodology with which they present the results. I think I am going to challenge my students today and see if they can recognize these same flaws or even catch something I missed. Part of what I do in my Physics classes is to try to get students to become better critical thinking. What better way to accomplish that task than to use a medium in which they "partake" everyday?

08 December 2008

A day off

Here it is Monday and I am playing hooky. I am supposed to be grading, but as usual, I am procrastinating. I thought blogging would be just as beneficial. Seriously, I have a mountain of papers staring at me as I sit in MishellyB's office listening to some John Butler Trio on XM. I took the day off for a couple of reasons, but at least I took a personal day and didn't fake it with a sick day.
I am going to work on these papers after 11 because I am going to hear a presentation about "Grand Canyon, Great Flood or Billions of years of Geology?" That may not be the exact title, but basically it is given by one of my previous (not old) professors. He went to the Grand Canyon this summer on an excursion with a group who looks at the evidence presented by the canyon either for or against a creationist view (Earth is
My other reason to skip class today is to get caught up on grading. I am giving a test today and I haven't even graded the last test! The cardinal sin of teaching as far as I am concerned! I will get it done one way or the other. I also have to get ready for the rest of the week of class. We are moving on to Waves (an appropriate continuation of energy) in Physics; and I think we are going to spend the final two weeks of class in Physical Science exploring Waves, but more specifically Earthquakes and planetary geology. Maybe a little space thrown in just for fun!
So, enough with the putting it off. Get out the red pen (just kidding) and let's get to it!

06 December 2008

Week 7

This week has really flown by. That could be due to the fact that many of my students who tend to be discipline problems, are either suspended, awaiting long term suspension decisions, or simply have not been coming to class.

I had some collateral duties yesterday in the form of supervising students during a holiday assembly. I actually had to refer a student to the office because he wouldn't be quiet while the band was playing. I was about to get the chance to talk to his dad on the phone (the student's cell phone) but a vice principal got the student and took him on to the office. Another student was "claiming her set" with another student from a different set when they noticed I was watching them. I simply said "that has no place here at school" and was going to let it go; she decided to take it a step further by standing up and notifying everyone on the other side of the gym with who she is affiliated by making some not so discreet gestures to anyone who cared to notice. So, bottom line, everyday is an adventure in the science classroom (or even outside of it)!

We also took our first loss of the season in basketball; it just so happened that it was the first game of the regular season, too. We lost to one of our rich, northern rivals in a devastating loss in overtime. We ended with a final score of 60-62. Needless to say, the bus ride home with the Pirate Line (a student spirit team) was a bit quiet.

04 December 2008

Nearing the end of another semester

Here we are getting close to the end of a semester. Wow. Has this been the most challenging time so far or what?

My physical science class has been a real P.I.M.A. I have struggled a lot with my classroom management strategies. As Michelle has pointed out, I have had a hard time staying out of "their drama". I sometimes get sucked in when the students decide to act out. Many of my troublemakers have actually been weeded out. I have written more referrals this semester than I ever have. I have gone completely electronic with discipline so it makes it really easy to look back and reflect on what I have done so far. Unfortunately, I have probably been too lenient in my write-ups. I should have written more, but it is what it is and its done. So there you go.

It has been a busy semester. I have worked on picking up my game as far as technology goes and I think I have paid it forward by getting a smartboard today! Woo-hoo! Pretty darn exciting. I got no grading done on plan since I was setting that up and playing with it!

I am thrilled at the new opportunities that await me next semester. While I will miss my physics students, I will get some new ones and get some old ones back in my AP class. I am really looking forward to a chance to get my passing rate up on the AP test!

More soon when I get a chance.

28 September 2008

So far this year

It has been a terrific, challenging year. I told my students this week that I haven't done as good of a job forming relationships with them, so far. I'm not really sure why, but I haven't. I think maybe I have already lost sight of why I am doing this. I went to a workshop this week that talks a lot about forming relationships which reminded me of my inspiration to teach. Michelle (my wife) is my inspiration. She forms relationships with students and I saw that which is the reason I decided to teach. Did I lose sight of that already? Maybe so, but my batteries have been recharged and I am ready to work towards that goal again.

We will see what this week holds for me. I think it's going to be great.

06 September 2008

So far...

It has been a typical beginning of the school year. Mishelly and I have been busy with the sophomore class at SNU and our new family group, not to mention my Physics and Astronomy club at PC, and of course the kids have their own interests that don't always match what we would like to be doing. It has been really good to see Jessica blossom as a social, young academic and I am really hoping JC follows in her footsteps.

My classes have been typical as well. I picked up a Physical Science class again this year within the first week of school. They are certainly challenging me. I am already out of resources as far as classroom management goes. My phys. sci. class last year was tough, but not like this.

On a lighter note, I came up with a great analogy to use in that class the other day. We were talking about school in general and they were complaining about our block schedule. I was trying to encourage them and asked "If you had (insert cake ingredients here) could you make a good cake?" Most replied in the affirmative, as expected. Then I asked "Could you also make a bad cake?" Of course they agreed that it would also be possible to make a bad cake. So then I said "well, you have a block schedule, physical science, me, and yourself...which kind of cake are you going ot make?" Do you know what their response was? "We are gonna make a CAKE in this class?!?"

I just about fell out laughing. Had I not been so frustrated at the time, I probably would have. I then asked if they knew what an analogy was and they said "No". So there you have it: one of my goals is to teach them what an analogy is this semester.

18 August 2008

A Brand New Year

Year number 2. Woo-hoo! I am so excited about this year. I feel much more comfortable in the classroom and don't feel like I have to spend several hours each night getting ready for class. Now that's not to say that I go home right after school, but I do feel like I am better prepared to face each day, having some things from last year to modify and change to fit what I want it to do.

I am teaching Physics, Pre-AP Physics, and Physical Science. Again, I get thrown into physical science 3 days in with absolutely no preparation time. I am glad to have the class instead of duty, I just wish they would communicate with me and let me know when a class is supposed to start!

So get ready, because here come the Pirates!

15 July 2008

Ah Summer

I am really enjoying the summer vacation. This is my first true "summer off" aka "all of my weekends at once" without feeling that I have to work. We have done some traveling over the last month or so and it has been relaxing.

We are planning on going to NYC and DC in the next two weeks and I am really ready for a road trip. We will spend about 3 days in NYC and then almost a week in DC. It should be a great. The family is going to keep a blog during the trip.

I have begun to hear from some of my AP students and at least one of them got a 3 on the AP test. Woo-hoo! At least everyone didn't fail. I'm pretty stoked about it. More info to come.

14 June 2008

Here I am again months later and no more information. But wow have I learned a lot in the last few months.

Teaching has been awesome and I have really found my niche.

I have spent the last two weeks at Oklahoma State University studying High Energy Physics through a program called quarknet. It has been tremendous and difficult all at the same time. I learned some really good things about the Nature of Science and feel that I am beginning to come to an understanding about that particular facet of my teaching journey. Not to say that I am a pro, but at least I am making progress.

As an update, I was rehired on a permanent contract at PC High this year. I was really excited to be able to tell my family that I had been successful this year and was going to continue there.

I have started a Physics and Astronomy club at PC High. It will probably begin to revolve most around the cosmic ray detector and the 12 inch telescope. I hope to generate some real interest and start doing some activities in which the kids might be interested.

We shall see.