Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I wish I had said this

I went to a meeting to today.   I read this and had to share.  This was sheer brilliance.  That is probably because I didn't write it.

"Because we are intelligent people we know that studies can show whatever one wants them to depending on the studies that one selects to study; even as studies can show that homework is non-beneficial, there are also studies that show that homework is beneficial especially for any college bound student.  We as a campus are encouraging students to continue on to higher levels of study, i.e. college, and hence we should be preparing them for such, or we are doing them a disservice."


Differential Gears

Boing Boing posted a link to a great video on how gears work.

 From Boing Boing:

      This great old video is a remarkably clear explanation of how a
     differential gear works -- the kind of  thing  that you could show
     to a young child or an adult and make the lightbulb go on for both of them. 


Monday, March 28, 2011

Academics to embrace Wikipedia


Academics might embrace Wikipedia. 


I said what?

Freedom of speech.  Is speech really free?  Free from what, consequences?  Now that I work in education I see many people getting in trouble for their online activities.  Unlike commiserating with your co-workers after work, whatever you type on the internet is there for good.  I hear things that I shouldn't hear all the time at work.  I try and keep my thoughts to myself.  Why, you ask?  I was an Army reserve officer and was trained that every word I said held gravity and weight.  We were told to consider not only our actions but our speech.  I took this very seriously, as did many of my peers.

I see and hear many civilians complain about freedom of speech.  I swore an oath during my military time to uphold and defend the Constitution.  I believe, along with many Americans, that everyone has the right to speak freely.  In addition, I believe that speech is not truly free, not in the way that popular culture leads us to believe.  Socially, it is unacceptable to go up to someone and say something hurtful.  No one would argue for that, yet hurtful, even hateful speech has been protected by the courts.  Is there consequences for such speech?  Absolutely!  Employees have been fired for what they said and even what they wrote on the internet.

Along with the right to speech, we accept the responsibility of speech.  What is responsibility of speech?  For everything we say or write down, we are answerable for.  Be that our boss, our peers or society in general.  Even me writing this I am keenly aware of not only the intended audience but unintended audiences.  I measure what I write down with thought and deliberation.  Stream of consciousness might work for some, but it has got many into deep trouble time and time again.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Some help teaching the Law of Conservation of Energy

The main question that I had teaching the law of conservation of energy was "where does the energy go?"  If energy is not created or destroyed, why do things stop moving? 

Of course we all know the answer is friction. 

What is friction?  I had my students rub their hands together and then asked them if they felt heat.  That is friction. 

Then I explained that energy is transformed from kinetic energy into thermal energy via friction.  This is where I either get the glassy stare or the arguments. 

This skate park would let the student see the effect of friction and watch the graphs kinetic energy was transformed into thermal energy.  If I had a computer lab, I would have them play with this skate park application until they had a solid grasp on why perpetual machines don't exist.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Technology: Blessing or Bain?

I read an interesting article at 8th Floor that really got me thinking.  It was about an experience during a workshop that got ugly.  You can read the original article here.

Being new to education, I find the negative "nellies" everywhere.  Yet they jump on the bandwagon without really tapping technology.  My initial reaction, well you can read it in the comments,  was to think of this great article in the onion.  I then remembered this article about fear and perception.  I was having a real hard time empathizing with the fellow in the article.  Both my civilian and military career were evolutionary careers.  If you stayed stagnant for one second, you were out.  Apparently, education hasn't made real leaps or bounds.  At least that is my impression. 

In fact it was my experience.  My school back in the 70's and 80's had technology such as cassette players and Apple IIe computers, but they collected dust while my teachers used the chalkboard.  While now I know training is an issue, training is available for all teachers on technology.  I have been taking that training.  Maybe my previous teachers didn't have the available training, and from anecdotal evidence, this was an issue, but that is not an excuse today.

I was trying to explain to my mother what a subnet is and what the benefits and limitations of subnetting are.  She struggled to understand and I could not come up with a good analogy to the real world that would suffice.  I did some research but I didn't find any good way to break down how the internet works at the basic OSI layers for the non technical types.

All this reminded me of a video game I'm currently playing called Red Dead Redemption.  It is set in 1901 or 1902 in a fictional state in Western US.  During many of the dialogue, there is much discussion between the characters about how fast technology is changing.  It's an eerie mirror to our current times.  I don't think that was lost on the game developers.

It all comes down to technological immigrant or technological native.  I'm an immigrant compared to my students but a native compared to my peers.  I've been an early adopter and worked in the computer field for over 15 years.

Do we, as immigrants, rail against the windmills or just fade quietly into that still night?


Monday, March 7, 2011

Waiting for Superman

Who has seen the movie "Waiting for Superman"???

What did you think?  Comment below!


Social Media

Here is a great movie:


Manual transmission versus "Stick Shift"

I asked a student who was 16 if he knew how to drive a manual.  He responded that he did .

Another student (who wasn't even part of the initial conversation) interrupted the conversation to state “I prefer stick shifts”.

The first student and I looked at each other in disbelief and started laughing.

The second student had no idea why we were laughing.

I think he still doesn’t know what we are laughing about to this day.



Welcome to my blog.... *sigh*  OK I know that was lame.  This is my first post on my brand new blog.  A little about me:  I'm a first year teacher.  I teach ninth grade physical science in a large urban school district in a Southwestern State.  I used to be a network administrator but years of overwork and complete career burnout, I decided to try something new.  I'm not sure how this blog will develop but maybe it will be interesting.  Who knows?  I sure don't!