Saturday, August 27, 2005


I was teaching about density last week, and I used a technique I've been using a lot lately.

Students were able to calculate the density of various objects successfully. In the past, I would have moved on at that point.

This time, I posed the question:
What if I had half the mass and volume of the rice?

The silence that resulted indicated they hadn't made that leap to understanding that density is a ratio. It took several minutes of probing to get students to think about how they could reason through the answer.

I'm doing that additional questioning more this year. In the Physical Science class, I had been talking about the experiment of Galileo's that proved that heavy objects don'[t fall faster than lightweight objects (featherweight objects excluded).

Several students admitted that they didn't believe that heavy objects didn't fall faster. I congratulated them on their honesty, and pointed out that Galileo's conclusions were counter-intuitive. We resist the conclusion that seems to be contradicting common sense.

Tuesday, after I return from my workshop, I plan to use the demonstration that uses a large book and paper, first separately, then with the paper on top of the book (to eliminate air resistance). I'm assigning more observation and reflection writing with this year's students, and it seems to be helping them.


I found a good site for math students looking for a challenge.

Planarity, which provides a neat puzzle, seen below.

The object is to move the vertices so that they do not overlap. There are multiple solutions, and it lends itself to a trial-and-error approach, which novice students might find useful.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


I have access to new technology this year. The department head has made the Quizdom set-up available to everyone (sign-up required), there's a digital microscope floating around (haven't made the time to check it out yet), and I have some CBLs and graphing calculators being sent as I post.

Not quite Nerdvana, but close.


After less than 2 weeks, I feel back in the saddle. I've finally caught up with some of the preliminary paperwork that has been weighing me down, and I'm starting to have a few moments to refresh myself for the next day. Such as today - I actually had time to dip my toes into the blog world, and find out what people are posting about.

On Monday, I have a day of professional development with my fellow Physical Science teachers. Naturally, it's almost more trouble than it seems worth to prepare for the sub. The copying is handled centrally, so I need to be better prepared than I have in previous years (I have a tendency to wait until the last minute to get the copy ready). I currently have a busted overhead, so that's out. And I stupidly picked PERMANENT overhead markers - when shopping, I chose the right kind, then saw a better price. Didn't realize they were different until today. D'oh! As Homer Simpson says.

Still, for all the fish-out-of-water feeling I am experiencing, and the hassle of wanting some equipment that is still in Cleveland, and the loneliness of being without my husband - I am loving teaching full-time again.

It almost makes up for my anxiety about the NTE next month.

Sunday, August 21, 2005


I've been following the discussions in several states lately (the advantage of having divided loyalties) on education. Everyone wants to improve it, but few can agree on how. One thing that definitely has an impact (it's true in any industry) - if the workers have a high turnover rate, that likely is trouble for the quality of the industry's product. Now, some get offended when the word "product" is used to refer to the educated end result of years of schooling. I understand - people aren't widgets. And one-size-fits-all solutions are also not likely to lead to long-lasting educational improvements. Take one popular solution - raising teacher salaries. Here's what Betsy has to say about that:
Take an example from my field: education. People complain that teachers are leaving the field. Polticians and teachers say that the solution is to increase teacher salaries. Well, I'm all for that. But what if that isn't the real cause of teachers retiring from the profession? What if it aggravation with administrators, nasty children, work overload, poor discipline procedures, nonsupportive parents, or any of a host of factors that could lead to loss of job satisfaction? If you increase the salaries and don't address the other problems, you haven't solved the problem. And you've taken money from a whole host of other areas to do so. How are journalists to find out what the real problem is? That's tough. I don't know. I've talked to many teachers who have decided to do something else and the reasons are many and varied. Sometimes the money was an issue, but often it wasn't. Teachers know what the salary is going in. It's the other stuff that can surprise them.

She has a point. We are aware that we are unlikely to get big bucks in teaching. There are compensations, like good benefits, protections against unreasonable firing, summers off (important for moms), and knowledge that the work is important, and makes a difference in the lives of children.


Plaque for the Hampton Colored School.

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This is a marker for a restored building that was designated as the Colored School, pre-integration. The local high school is about 50-50 black & white today.


The Old Colored School, Hampton, SC

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