Month: August 2010

My Favorite First Day

Today was the first day of school, so I’ve decided to make it my first day of blogging too. I want a place to reflect on what works and doesn’t work this year, since I’m trying a number of new things and continuing to tweak old ideas. I’m super excited about the changes I’m making to how I give students grades and feedback. Thankfully, I’m not alone. The other physics teacher and I are bringing standards-based grading to our courses this year. There are still some obstacles to overcome, but this is the first time I’ve been excited to assess students since becoming a teacher.

Tomorrow starts the scientific reasoning unit in my honors physics classes and I absolutely love this first week. It’s full of swinging pendula, vigorous student debate about confidence and uncertainty, failures, new knowledge and the idea that my students really don’t need me. With just their eyes, a meterstick, a stopwatch and a little math, they can tease out one of Nature’s secrets themselves. You know that scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory where he reveals the chocolate room?

This first unit makes me feel like that.