Some day…

TIPERS defined

Creating Interactive Physics Simulations Using the Power of Geogebra

Another type of simulation / coding I should try in class.

Making Experts of Physics (Instead of Just Equation Jockeys)

I’m finishing my second year of modeling instruction in 2016-2017.

I’m frustrated by the order of the topics, and wondering if there is a better way.

Then I read this paper:

A couple things I really like about it:

  1. returning to an overview of concepts in physics (i.e. models that may apply to any problem)
  2. putting work back on the students
  3. sharing feedback with students on how the course is going

Salary Checkup 2017-04-07

I’ve been keeping data on my salary. Here’s the comparison between base, gross and net for the last 6 years. NOTE: 2011-2012 I was student teaching in Highline School District.

For Gross and Net below, I only look at data through March 31st.

And here is Net Salary

I guess I’m just not gaming this salary system as much as I should.

Breslyn and McGinnis 2011

ABSTRACT: Teachers’ use of inquiry has been studied largely without regard for the

disciplines in which teachers practice. As a result, there is no theoretical understanding of

the possible role of discipline in shaping teachers’ conceptions and enactment of inquiry.

In this mixed-methods study, conceptions and enactment of inquiry for 60 National Board

Certified Science Teachers (NBCSTs) across the secondary science disciplines of biology,

chemistry, earth science, and physics were investigated. A situated cognitive framework

was used. Through the analysis of portfolio text (n = 48) and participant interviews (n =

12), themes emerged for participants’ conceptions and enactment of inquiry. Findings

suggested that disciplinary differences exist between NBCSTs’ conceptions and enactment

of inquiry. Furthermore, individuals teaching in more than one discipline often held different

conceptions of inquiry depending on the discipline in which they were teaching. A key

implication was the critical importance of considering the discipline in understanding

science teachers’ varied conceptions and enactment of inquiry. C _ 2011 Wiley Periodicals,

Inc. Sci Ed 96:48 – 77, 2012

Your discipline affects your use of inquiry in your classroom.

What is the metric of an effective high school?

Suppose a high school has a goal to graduate (metric) all students (metric) college and career ready (metric?).

What if we just took median income of a school district, and found the stats of graduates relative to median income and tracked that? Couldn’t the I. R. S. help us with those numbers?

But if all students go to college, and many out of town or out of area then those stats are pretty useless. Those students aren’t generating income and not in their hometown for at least 4 years if not more.

What if you just ask graduates “do you feel you are living the life you had envisioned now or are you making progress towards that life or those goals?”

Do we think high school is serving all students equitably? Do we think high school is having the impact it needs to have? If we want high school to have more impact shouldn’t it have more contact with community leaders? Are high schools in general adequately funded?

What proportion of high schools offer physics?

Quadrennial nationwide survey of high school physics teachers

Looking forward to this one.

Thanks! Was this email effective?

John Weisenfeld, Science Teacher, Pasco High School

Reflective Practice

742 words needs to be 600.]

I made an audacious suggestion to my administration this past year about reflective practice. Each week teachers at my school are asked to submit their lessons plans for the coming week on Friday to their administrative evaluators. My suggestion was that instead of doing a forecast of what we wanted to do for the next week, we should instead all do a post mortem of what had happened the past week. My rubric for the post mortem was simple: describe what went well and describe what didn’t go so well. Now let me say in full disclosure a couple of things. First, my administration did not adopt my suggestion. Second, I added a section of reflection to my own forward looking lesson plans and found that section very easy to write and extremely helpful. (I guess I am a critical-analytical type anyway.)

[I should also say that I don’t do this enough. All the excellent teachers that I admire do this. The whole blogging and tweeting movements are basically teachers with highly developed reflective skills putting themselves and their practice
on display for others to be encouraged and challenged. Now you don’t have to be famous to blog, but the activity of putting down what went well and what didn’t go so well is extremely valuable, *even just for you.* Let me repeat, even if you have 1 follower
or 5001 followers, reflection is the key to improvement and growth. I know this in my bones. I just don’t do it enough.]

When I have been reflective, when I have been analytical, I and my students have both benefitted. Let me share a few examples of reflection which I have done and how it impacted my teaching.

One week I only shared something in the “What Went Well [WWW]” section. In fact, there was very little in that section except the following “Gravitational waves last week!!” I put this comment in the WWW section because I am a firm believer that students of physics need to know that the topics (physics, waves) which they are learning about have relevance and significance in the real world. We all know that experimental confirmation of Einstein’s prediction of gravitational waves as a capstone to his theory of general relativity was huge. I can’t imagine a physics class in the country, nay even the world, that could have ignored that topic. What I am saying by this reflection is that “yes, you took time to pause and bask in the relevance of physics and the triumph of experimental physics to successfully support theory.” Yes, there is pressure to cover material and meet standards, yes there is a schedule, but there are also teachable moments and crucial opportunities to make a special day or experience coincide with a student’s experiences. Imagine saying in 5-10-15 years, “Oh yeah! That was the year they confirmed gravitational waves, 2015-2016, Weisenfeld’s physics class, 2nd period.”

One week I only shared one thing in the “What Could Have Gone Better [WCHGB]” section. I wrote: “Objects move at a constant velocity in a straight line unless acted on by a force, I’m not sure students all believe that.” For those of you who remember your high school physics, you might recognize this as Newton’s First Law, or the Law of Inertia. In this reflection I was saying something at once simple and yet profound. Newton’s extension of Galileo’s experiments on inertia basically upended the current (and still prevailing notion!) that objects that are moving must have a net force on them. This was a major topic of that week, and the simple statement for WCHGB is that not all students are making that connection yet. To realize that your teaching has failed is hard! But the profoundness of the statement is that they not only need to have the knowledge of that fact, but they have to really believe it to prove that they have learned it! What I was saying in this reflection is that I don’t think we should move on yet. That directly affects teaching practice.

Imagine writing lesson plans each week for this coming year by starting with a frank analysis of what went well (WWW) and what could have gone better (WCHGB). What I have seen in my practice is that this has been transformative in how I gauge my effectiveness and in how I set my plans for the coming week. I should do it more often!

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