Monday, May 2, 2016

Day 151: Matt Damon

It's movie time!!

I was given permission to show The Martian in my astronomy classes and, with the year ending, many juniors and seniors not coming to school and several students in need of extra points, I thought now would be a great time to watch it and do the activities that I have planned.

I did some digging through the internet over the last week or two in order to find some activities that go with this and the other movies I'm planning to show.

Earlier in the year, I applied for the district to use some grant money to purchase several copies of the book and they came through in spectacular fashion.  In addition to the movie, I have about 60 copies of The Martian by Andy Weir (one of the best books I've read in the past year).

For students who are interested in reading it, I offered copies of the book.  Students who feel they need to improve their grades, there is also the optional assignment of reading the book and writing a 3 page paper comparing and contrasting the book to the movie.

33 students borrowed copies of the book, most of whom will not write the paper, but instead will just read it for pleasure.  This makes me happy since, as an avid reader myself, I know that nothing ruins a book more than a book report.

"They won't rescue me unless I can write an adequate character study of A Tale of Two Cities with in-depth analysis of how the themes relate to modern societal struggles!"

While it would have been more appropriate to watch the movie during our section on the inner planets, something incredibly important got in the way at that point:

I didn't think about it.

If I teach this course next year, I will certainly do it during that chapter, along with various other Mars-based projects, including having the students attempt to grow potatoes in Martian soil.

So much of this year was me just trying to keep my head above water and a few days ahead of the kids.  I've been doing WAY too much in terms of worksheets and tests and not nearly enough projects.

The other thing that I've learned this is which topics interest the kids and which ones they hate.  Specifically, they like all the stuff that deals with space directly and not so much the stuff that deals with the history.  Since we have a loose curriculum, I have a ton of freedom in terms of what I cover and for how long.

I do plan to cover the history of astronomy and how telescopes work, but I will cut down how long we spend on those topics and will minimize the amount of time we do the "math review."

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