When I give them activities, they don't do them.
When I show movies with cool visuals and the voice of Mike Rowe, they take naps.
This by no means applies to all students. There are a few in each class who are deeply interested in the content.
I suppose my lectures are boring, my activities shallow and my movies dull. I do wonder if this problem is exaggerated because my classes are, technically, electives. The kids take them either because they are interested in Astronomy or because they need a science credit. Any science credit will do. When it comes down to it, the things that I teach are not life-critical.
I believe this course would be much more effective as a semester course, allowing me to cover topics that the kids want to explore and not worry about the details of the chemical reactions inside the sun. Should the kid know that stars fuse lighter elements into heavier ones? Yes. Do they need to know the specific of that process? Probably not.
When I speak with other teacher about this issue, they usually respond with "do what you can for those who are interested."
I feel as though I'm doing a great job of killing the topic for those who are interested, either by delving too deep into the technical aspects of the topics, or by spending so much of the class trying to control those who don't care.
I also had a ...chat with the Honors kids about their behavior and work ethic. I am increasing my expectations for them and have faith that they can rise to the challenge.
When they came in, there were Hotwheels tracks attached to desks and chairs. I am trying to get them to be thinking more critically, eventually developing their own experiments. In order to move towards that, I gave them the ramps and the goal and left the rest to them.
- Calculate the velocity of the car as it leaves the bottom of the ramp when released from Point 1, Point 3 and Point 4.
- Find where the car would land when released from Point 2 and Point 5.
I told them that they needed to devise a way to record and organize data, graphing their information and demonstrating how to arrived at the results. Then I said go.
There were some interesting discussions in the groups about how to record data, how to take measurements and how to predict results. I saw some pretty excellent work happening as well.
After they finished collecting data, I wandered around asking obnoxious questions like "Out of curiosity, when did you start the timer?" and "how many trials did you do?"
Enough of these life-ruining moments and they will start to consider their experimental design BEFORE they run the experiments.
Me: "What are you doing to make sure you know exactly where the car lands?"
S: "That's not a problem. It makes a gouge in the floor when it hits!"
Or perhaps I'll be the one rethinking the experimental design...