Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Day 43: Catch-Up

With the marking period ending on Friday, the quarterly "how can I get my grade up" scramble is in full swing.

Since I am not under time pressure to cover certain topics and I'm not the kind of person who tries to use what Sarah Palin might call "gotcha" teaching, I have no problem taking a day or two to let kids turn in assignments that they owe and demonstrate that they do actually know the information.

The majority of my students spent today working on corrections to the test that they took on Friday.  They could earn back some points that they missed by writing the correct answer, an explanation of their reasoning and an explanation of what they did wrong the first time.

For those who had already completed their test corrections, or opted not to do them, I had them work on the next section of their guided notes, looking up information on the corona and chromosphere.

I couldn't help but notice a high correlation between students working on their guided notes and those who did well on this previous test.

It is a great time to be an astronomy teacher!  NASA just released a 30 minute video of high definition solar footage from the Solar Dynamics Observatory.  It is one of the most beautiful things I've seen in a long time (besides a baby's smile, a single blue flower in a field of yellow or a bald eagle soaring through the Rockies clutching an American Flag).
Since I had JUST talked about both the SDO and the photosphere yesterday, I felt justified it having this video run on loop in the background while the kids worked.  The music is gorgeous as well.

I think several students in the Honors Physics class are starting to realize how far out of their depth they are.  One of the trends that I've noticed is that students in advanced classes usually fall into one of two categories.  Either they have had enough background smarts to push them forwards, or they have great work habits and persistence.

The Physics class seems to be split about 50/50.  Many of these kids are naturally bright, but don't really know how to take notes, ask questions, or study.  When they find themselves lost, instead of buckling down, they tune out and wait for something that makes sense to them.

This is a fairly good short-term strategy, especially in classes that don't carry over topics and concepts from one section to the next.  It is, however, a terrible strategy for classes such as math and science where the topics are cumulative.

The students who only paid minor attention during the section on 1 dimensional kinematics are finding it difficult to keep up during 2 dimensional.  These are the same students who repeatedly simply don't turn in assignments.  I would care less about this if they could ace the tests, but that's not happening either.

Since "Honors Physics" is the lowest level of physics that's offered in my school, I'm wondering if I need to be changing my expectations of the students.

My issue with that is that there are several students who are working their butts off and doing amazing work and I hate to cater to those who won't work because they think they don't have to.

And after that last sentence, I feel as though I should call my parents to make sure they haven't died from the irony.

One of my coworkers stopped me in the hall today to tell me that she's been reading this blog lately.  She thanked me for my writing and what I share.  She told me that she finds it comforting to see that someone else is having the same struggles as she is, the same failures, the same questions.

When I spoke at NCTM last month, I said that I write for me.  I write to find my center, to keep myself on track.

But I would be lying if I didn't admit that I love interactions like the one I had today.  As a teacher, it warms me to know that I'm helping someone else, even if all I'm doing is sharing my struggles.

So I suppose I'll keep doing it.

Today is post number 400.

Here's to 400 more!

I'm lying! Can I be done blogging please??

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