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Monthly Archives: May 2015

Day 112: Chemistry Subbing

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Day 112/180: subbing for chemistry

Subbed across the hall from my old class again. Of the five science teachers upstairs, only two were there, so I also helped with another chemistry class during a free period (the rest of his day was in-house period coverage). It’s strange to be a sort-of insider while subbing, but I was asked to peek in on the period coverage.

Just as a note: if a teacher’s sub plans specifically says, “NO FLAME TESTS”, don’t let students do the flame tests.

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Day 111: Solo Work

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Day 111/180: working on more SBG stuff and twitching

I have problems concentrating when I’m on my own, and yet, I usually get more done when alone. I twitch (being preoccupied with something and trying to not be preoccupied). Argh. 

Anyway. I’m hacking through the “I can…” statements. There are a lot of basic recall things, especially in the history sections! I need to change that up. I should also take a history of science course. 

I know there will be a lot of procedural/calculation requirements in upcoming sections, and I know I’ll need to change that up too. 

Day 110: Math subbing

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Day 110/180: algebra II classes

I’ve subbed for this teacher before, and he requested me this time (after I did something smart: I went to visit him in person when I was in the building for another job). The kids in every class exclaimed “he’s never gone! It’s the first time this year!” This tells me a few things: 1. That I didn’t screw up last time, 2. That I wasn’t particularly remarkable last time, 3. That the classroom teacher approves of me enough to request me for his only day out. 
I’ll take it. 

For classroom teachers: please, please, please be sure what kind of schedule the day has, especially at the end of the year with lots of testing schedules and field trips and stuff. 

For subs: be sure to have something in your back pocket for when the lesson plans only cover a couple of classes because the teacher thought it was a different day (and/or ask a neighboring teacher for help). I got to give the kids a work day, and (minimally) help a number with their chemistry homework. 

Day 109: Chemistry Subbing

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Day 109/180: subbing for my old chemistry classes

I’ve missed them! And the squeals of “you’re back!” make me pretty grateful to have had such good kids.

They’re in the middle of a lab final, which is kinda where I left them in January. It’s pretty cool to see them going about their business, just knowing what to do (or pretending to). I don’t know if they realize how much they’ve learned, as they navigate titrations and molarity calculations. Makes me proud, even though I had nothing to do with their more recent chemical education. And my hands are super-extra clean after repairing a number of leaking sodium hydroxide burets.

And I also got to see my old colleagues and other faculty and staff. They’re good people.

As much as I’ve enjoyed subbing this year (and I’ve been pretty lucky with this sabbatical year), I’m ready to get back in the game. I’d really like a regularly scheduled job, full of “my” kids and enthusiastic co-workers to work with.

Day 108: Physics Subbing

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Day 108/180: subbing for a short day in physics

The sub assignment said math, but it was physics instead. No problem! I’ve seen versions of the one-battery-bulb-wire lab before. It was fun to see it in action. I also love watching normal classroom routines. It’s May, so every classroom knows what they’re to do with “warm ups” and “work in groups”. Expectations, when engrained, work so smoothly. I liked that they were to work together, but individually explain portions to other people and collect signatures. This worked pretty well, although a few kids just asked for anyone to sign their lab notebooks. Those who took it more seriously created some interesting dialogs about experiments, and even caught some mistakes between groups.

Teachers: For your subs, please list your schedule for the day, even if it’s a normal-schedule day. It’s good for subs to know, especially when it’s an alternating schedule.

Day 107: More SBG Work

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Day 107: More SBG work: making it digital

I work better on paper than on computer, possibly because I don’t get into as many online games. At any rate, I’ve translated my digital notes into Evernote, so I can work on it while I’m away from my home computer.

I’m having my annual self-argument about the order of subjects (start with measurement or atomic theory and nuclear stuff). The first way tends to weed-out kids who aren’t that serious about taking chemistry (strangely, because they don’t want so much math). This makes it better as a teacher, as most of the kids who hack it will probably manage to hack the rest of the course. There is a weird transition somewhere along the line, where numbers and sig figs aren’t used for a few weeks while atomic theory is introduced, and a lot of kids forget all rules for precision and numbers. The second way tends to keep a lot of kids in the beginning, but the course may be more than what they bargained for later. After getting the non-number-based stuff out of the way, the rest of the course needs digits and precision, so the math piece is introduced later and used consistently to the end. To me, it’s a much smoother way to do the whole course. And I hate weed-out things.

And at the same time, I don’t want kids who shouldn’t be in the course… be in the course. It’s hard on them and hard on me. And maybe they’d be ready for chemistry at a different time, so maybe a weed-out is kinda diagnostic. And either way, I feel like a big meany, either for having put kids through an ordeal, or not having given them a chance to show me wrong.

Because of my previous schools, I’ve done all kinds of ways to order chemistry, even starting in the middle. I’ve even done a bunch of versions concurrently. Ultimately, it needs to be what’s best for the kids, not me.

I’ll probably change my mind tomorrow.

Day 106: More SBG Work

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Day 106/180: More SBG work, starting standards/goals for various topics

Pouring rain and some hail make for a good day indoors.

With last time’s list of topics, I started filling in the sub-topics. Perhaps I should re-do this: create a comprehensive list of skills/ideas/standards I want students to have, then divide them into topics/units. I think it might reduce the number of units for the year (rather than basically following chapter headings), and allow me to mix and match things more fluidly.

I wonder how this would change if I had a textbook to work with. I don’t really use a textbook in class anyway, but it’s confusing to students if I say, “You’ve been sick! We’re working on parts of Chapter 5, only a few pages of Chapter 12, and the first half of Chapter 13 right now. Yes, they’re totally related.”

I think I’m getting the hang of making the standards. It’s pretty indicative of the kind of teaching I’ve been doing (i.e., computing lots of numbers). I need to add more things to clarify understanding of concepts, which should help for students continuing in AP.

I need to add laboratory components. What are the lab skills I want students to have? I think many of these will come in a “measurement” unit at the beginning of the year, but what other skills do I want later-part-of-the-year students to learn in lab (or is it mostly about what kids can get from lab results at that point)?

Oooh… this is thereputic. I wish I’d given this a serious start earlier.