Day 32: Seasons of Love

Friday, 27 Sept 2013

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Google’s answer to “minutes in a year”.

A classwork problem of mine asks

What’s the distance of a light year in meters? A light year is a measure of distance that light travels in one year.

Which prompts me to play

At which point half the class starts singing.

Later on, a kid tells me “Google was wrong” and another decides “Rent lied to me”. Not a single one realized the 1/4 day Google considers or Rent doesn’t.

Day 31: Show Me One

Thursday, 26 September 2013

September 27, 2013 52247 AM EDT

Did our first Show Me One activity. I selected a few problems from the classwork set and wrote the numbers on the board. Students could choose any one of those to demonstrate to me. I watched the solution silently till they finished then gave my feedback.

What was the warmup in 4th period?

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Day 30: Binder Checks

Wednesday, 25 September 2013


One of my classes took their unit test today on Waves & Sound. While doing so, I graded binders.

My students must keep a binder with course materials that I check on test day. I like being able to see each student’s work end-to-end. I also found several instances of assignments the student never turned in (usually because it was incomplete and they were “going to finish it tonight for homework”), so I was able to grade them on the spot. Also now I have a list of kids to work with in small groups because their assessment scores are low AND their binders are hot messes.

Why no more interactive notebooks? I had a lot of pushback last year from my students, many of whom are quite well-organized in their own fashion. Since the IN is a teacher-centered organization scheme, I opted for a less structured design (though this one is still quite structured by me). The thesis I’m developing is that the IN is super-useful for lower achieving students or those with executive functioning skills deficits, less so at the other side of the spectrum.

Day 28: Quizzes

Monday, 23 September, 2013

Here’s the student quiz day workflow: take a quiz on Moodle, get immediate feedback as to right & wrong answers, correct what you can with commentary as to why you got it wrong/how to correct. Both of these young women made silly mistakes. Unit conversions are a huge issue when starting out in physics. The young woman on the left will learn. The one on the right merged two adjacent problems from her screen while solving. I did have mercy on her, in case you were wondering.

I love the way my room sounds about 30 minutes into quiz day. The first wave of kids has just hit submit and is looking over their results. They let out some form of sigh when they realize the mistake they made — that’s educational gold. I’d estimate 75% of student errors get a “gah!”. Only 25% of student errors are in the “I have no idea where I went wrong” camp.

Closed out class today with ~10 minutes an introduction to Electromagnetic Waves.

Day 27: Grade Catchup Day

Friday, 20 September 2013

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Last day of the marking period. Am I the only decent teacher out there who “wastes” class time checking on the gradebook with kids? Today was an opportunity to turn in missing work, check off on work you never turned in, and finish this week’s assignments.

Above is the Moodle gradebook. Not the easiest thing to work with, but I’m learning. The first two columns are a quiz then its retake, a method I used only once until I found a more efficient way to manage retakes in here.

Day 26: Sound & Music Classwork

Thursday, 19 September 2013

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The kids are getting their classwork done. Kinda the same thing going on Wednesday and Friday, too. I’m trying more open work time in class — as in, we’re working on three different assignments at once. So far, mixed results. Some classes take to the responsibility better than others. Definitely a maturity thing.


Day 25: Doppler Flash

Wednesday, 18 September 2013


This impromptu moment in class while reviewing the Doppler Effect. One of the kids wondered what would you’d hear if something moving really fast was driving toward you. I was ready for this! We watched this clip then ran the numbers for a speed just below the speed of sound.

This led to a few other realizations:

  • the Flash can’t hear anyone around him when he’s running super fast
  • you can’t hear the Flash if he’s speaking while running toward you
  • a radio transmitter as shown in the clip overcomes the problem (“cause radio waves travel so much faster than sound” said one of my kids)

(Side note: I do teach boys but they all sit on the other side of the room. My students are freshmen, so still think the other gender has cooties


Day 24: Open Work Day

Tuesday, 17 September 2013


Here’s the deal: I had several assignments out with kids, including a research paper and a classwork assignment. Kids were all over the place in terms of understanding and completion. What to do? List out our priorities and let ’em at it.

I always feel like these open work days come off as me not working. Like I’m supposed to be teaching stuff. Ah, insecurities.

Today, I realized several kids missed the boat on a few key ideas. To spot these issues earlier, I’m thinking of instituting a “show me one” plan where kids must demonstrate one of several classwork problems to me face-to-face.

How do you structure practice time? How do you find the kids who hide their lack of understanding?


Day 23: Reviewing Prototype Videos

Monday, 16 September 2013

Students had to prototype their musical instruments and submit a video or annotated photos detailing what they learned. Above is the most entertaining one. Below is the most informative.

Submissions came in on Friday and I reviewed them all over the weekend. Monday in class, we played a few and discussed reasons why this step was important, shared what we learned, and where we go next with our projects.

What was the Warm Up in 7th period?

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I wanted to get at the difference between round-trip and one-way travel. Results were mixed on figuring it out themselves but once a neighbor told a confused kid, he/she always understood it.