Day 18 – Reflections

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Physics 11 – Students were given two opportunities to think about what they’ve been doing in class.  The first question was a quick one I had them answer on their mini whiteboards, and most kids had a hard time answering why they had to do a graph. A few were able to reason that they’re using graphs to model something they were analyzing.

Students also had an assignment to reflect on their quiz in the Moodle course site.  Only about 1/2 of my students completed this very easy 2 minute assignment.  I’m even more amazed this year as to how little students are willing to engage in technology as a tool for education. They love phones for messaging, YouTube, videos, games and music, but that’s about it.  Everything I see right now points to a continuing erosion of positive interactions with the internet.  I get the feeling that the class website will be completely underutilized.

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Day 86: Curved Mirrors

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Science 8 – The students continued looking into light and optics today.  The main goal was to see how curved mirrors affected light rays. Unfortunately we don’t have curved mirrors to use with ray boxes so I improvised using curved aluminum foil.

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I think this activity is a bit difficult for the students but it is hard to assess. I don’t want to go deep into them drawing ray diagrams, I mainly want them to understand how mirror curvature and focal points work, and how the images change.  The other part that I am concentrating on is the idea of communication competency.  By this I mean that the skill of drawing a clear diagram using a ruler is an important part of communication.  Whether the student is doing a diagram for themselves, for their teacher or for their classmates, it is important to do a good job so that they can exchange their ideas.

Day 83: Reflection and Refraction Activities

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Science 8 – Today the students worked through three stations to observe and record what happens to light when it passes through different mediums.  The first activity has the students look at light that reflects off the top surface of a beaker of water.  Kind of cool but not jaw dropping.

The second activity to be fun, interesting and good one to explore and engage with.  They used a ray box to refract light through a glass block.  This one gave the students lots of opportunities to see what light can do.

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The shocking activity was the last one.  Students look towards a jar lid that has a penny in it.  They lower their head so that they cannot see the penny. Then a partner slowly pours water into the lid and all of a sudden the student can see the penny because the light is refracting as it comes out of the water.

Day 80: Law of Reflection

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Science 8 – I showed the classes a video of pool balls bouncing on a pool table.  From this, the students were broken into groups and asked to come up with a rule that describes the path that the balls travel when bouncing.  They wrote their rule down on whiteboards, and almost all groups independently came up with the Law of Reflection.  A few groups wondered if the ball always bounces back in a 90º angle.

The students were then asked to shift their rule over to the reflection of light. On their whiteboards I drew where I would place a mirror and a laser. They had to predict the path that the reflected laser would take.  Most students did not have a protractor, but most came pretty close.  The photo above shows one group that came very close.

Day 59: Learning the Cell Cycle

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Science 9 – The students are learning about the cell cycle and mitosis.  They were asked to complete an activity, but in general the students weren’t working too hard.  Homework is a foreign idea to most of them. I don’t assign homework for practice, but if I feel that something should have been finished in class, I will ask that it gets done at home.  I try to frame it as being an important part of their learning.  The work they do is for them, not for me. I have no interest in collecting it for marks.  However, I am interested in looking at it so I can the students feedback on what else they need to work on.

There is a lot of vocabulary around the cell cycle and mitosis, and as teachers I think we need to be careful on what we ultimately want them to take away from the topic. I expect the students to know the general idea of cell division, cell cycle, cell functions and mitosis.  They should also be able to identify pictures of mitosis: they’ve read about it, studied the pictures and will do a lab looking at onion root slides.  As well, with critical thinking, students should be able to figure out the correct order for the stages of mitosis, even if they didn’t memorize the pictures.