One of my favorite physics labs that I do in my class is making an electric motor. The students get so excited when they get their motor working (even taking selfies with it). For some of the students, it take them quite a while to finally get it to spin continuously. This year when we did it, there were several groups that wanted to leave their motors up and running all week. I love to see students gets excited about physics (and chemistry of course)!
Once they get their motor working, then I tell them to tweak it like adding more batteries, adding lights, changing the number of magnets, etc. It’s fun to see the ideas that they come up with. Then, they have to explain to me how the change affected the operation of their motor.
I teach at a 1-1 computer school. I am always looking for new ways to incorporate the computers into my lesson plans. This year I started to have students do video lab reports. This was the first lab that I tried the video lab report with. The students had to explain each part of their motor and its function. If students can explain a concept to some one else, then you really know that they have got it.
My students look forward each year to our culminating event in the organic chemistry unit called the molecule building contest. I really hype it up and joke about challenging neighboring schools because we are so good at building molecules. Winning groups get medals that they proudly wear around the school. Some of my students tell me that they are going to display their medals at their graduation parties too!
The students work together in groups of 3 or 4. We make it more fun by going to the gym and adding some running to the competition. I give them a molecule name and the first group to run up and show me their molecule will get a point if the molecule is correct. (I use the molecule sets from Flinn Scientific). If their molecule is incorrect, then another group will get a chance at scoring. I tell them that teamwork will win it for them. Each year it never ceases to amaze me how some of the groups really nail the teamwork. You will look at them working and see 3 or 4 pair of hands working efficiently to build a molecule. It is awesome to see students get so excited about chemistry!
While dismantling my room for the year, I was think about my classroom quote board. There is a white board at the back of the room that is reserved for funny science things students say and do throughout the year (and occasionally things that the teacher says and does). The students really enjoy “catching” a peer in classes saying something cleaver or memorable and run to the back of the room to post it. Over the years we have had so much fun with it. Someone at home will say something funny and I’ll reply put that on the quote board!
I finally forced myself to try a bit of flipping in my classroom. Why, why, why did it take me this long to try it? It has been a wonderful help in my chemistry classroom. I don’t know if the students would agree, but I think they do like learning at their own pace, and “rewinding” to learn more difficult concepts. I have found that it helps students to focus more on their own learning then they typically do in a lecture setting. I have seen a better focus by students translate into higher quiz and test scores. Some of the students do balk at having to watch a video, but not too many.
My video making is not ideal yet. Currently I am using Ink2Go to record my videos. I would love to be able to work the problems while I am talking about them, but haven’t reached that point yet. I have yet to use my iPad for this but have thought about trying ExplainEverything. I’ve heard such good things about it. I would love to own the bigger iPad but so far my budget can’t accommodate its purchase. I have tried playing around with my Surface but need more time with it when I’m not in the pressure cooker of the school year. After dipping my toes into flipping, I have found it to be something I want to do a lot more of in the future!
My students and I were recently introduced to Kahoot It is a fun way to review that the kids really, really like. I was amazed at how much they like it. They went from trudging through a physics review to being really excited to review physics using this interactive tool. If you think you don’t have time to create one more new thing, Kahoot has a lot of publicly shared quizzes and reviews that you can just use – that is what I did. I will definitely be using it more in the future!
It’s almost the end of the school year and I fear I have finally done it – lost my mind! How could any teacher be more excited at the end of her 16th year of teaching that she was when she began? It has been a real year of growth for me in so many ways. The “aha” moments have been too numerous to count in technology, teaching philosophy and pedagogy as well as with interactions with my students. I have been through a lot of changes professionally and personally in a short time – going to a block schedule at our school, incorporating 1-1 computer technology, and getting my master’s in chemistry education.
There are so many new teaching tools that I have been exposed to recently and one of them is using WordPress for my class website. There are so many more things I would like to do with my website this summer. I am finally going to have the time to do that. I am armed with an amazing scanner (that I “borrowed from son Chris) and my very own personal WordPress professional (my other son Nick). This same son suggested that I use Schoology with my classes this year and I absolutely love it! I could never go to any other type of content management system. I haven’t had a single problem with Schoology and use it to give online tests and quizzes.