SS Day 14: Bittersweet Last Day

Thursday, 3 July 2014


How I use software distributed on CD. With apologies to Vernier.

The bulk of my last summer school day* was spent on building rubber band cars, which was totally worth the time. Aside from $6 in wooden dowels, everything else was found in and around our science building.

I based what we did heavily off Ben Wildeboer’s (@WillyB) project.

Ben’s totally onto something — there’s immense value in teachers leaving resources up on the web even after we’ve quit using them. His project had a list of rules meant to make the competition more fair (or maybe more fun), which was like hitting paydirt for me. I wouldn’t have thought to limit those things without having done the project before. Oh, and bonus points to Ben for providing my favorite thing: a photo gallery in addition to the project description.

Here’s a video I made after school was over of kids who stuck around to test run their car.

What you see above took 3.5 hours, which I think is about an hour too much. I’d like to overcome this next time by adding appropriate time pressure, but how?

Since my time at summer school is done, I’m thinking about how the kids will respond to a teacher hand-off. My colleague, Meghan, and I worked hard to minimize the shock by planning smooth transitions. Our overall summer school plan involved three main components:

  • Contain everything within a week: finish a unit every week with homework quizzes the morning after any homework assignment, a test on Friday mornings, and a project Friday afternoons
  • Become one: blend our teaching and class management styles so the kids didn’t feel a huge shock switching teachers twice during six weeks
  • Grade fairly: set up tests and quizzes that are similar in difficulty and grading standards

* the kids get Meghan, my co-worker and summer school collaborator, back for next week. We each taught three summer school weeks — an ideal plan if you want a little summer income and a little summer.


2 thoughts on “SS Day 14: Bittersweet Last Day

  1. I’ve been slackin’ on my online reading this summer, so I just came across this post. It looks like it all went well- and based on following you here on your summer school adventures, it sounds like a great session of summer school. The summer school sessions I know of have all been a bit more, “You sit down and learn this, and don’t you dare open your mouth!” Seems like you’ve put together a much more engaging course. Nice work!

    • Thanks a ton, Ben, for your kind words. I realize I’m lucky to get this summer school setup of kids who’re accelerating rather than repeating. However, it’s more the trust my admin puts in me to do the professional thing that makes me appreciate the class — and feel the freedom to do crazy stuff.

      There are so many challenges with condensing a year-long course down to just six weeks that I’m eager to do it again next year.

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