Monday, February 27, 2012

What wins out?  Incorporating group/inquiry teaching strategies into lessons along with administrative directed initiatives such as common formative assessments (CFAs) and alternative assessments or  proven standardized test practice.  Proven standardized test practice often involves lecture and having students practice taking multiple choice exams with no CFAs or alternative assessments.  I raise this question as many new state and federal mandates are requiring public school teachers to be evaluated in part by how well a students perform on a standardized tests.  Unfortunately, many inquiry based lessons, though valuable, may not be the best method for helping a student achieve a high score on a standardized test.  Additionally, some administrative directives may also be in conflict with preparing students to succeed on these tests.

What if a teacher has good results with students doing well on standardized tests but gets a bad evaluation because they did not do some of the required initiatives?  Conversely, what if the opposite happens, a teacher does all that is required of them but their students do poorly on the test?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Orion (DSC_0011_01)

DSC_0011_01 by kurtzepp
DSC_0011_01, a photo by kurtzepp on Flickr.

Orion. Betelguese is the orange star in the top middle. Rigel is the blue star in the bottom right.
For other photos of the evening Moon Plus 2-26-12.

Saturday, February 25, 2012


MoonVen3 by kurtzepp
MoonVen3, a photo by kurtzepp on Flickr.
Fighting the clouds to get the Waxing Crescent Moon and Venus which closest together today for this month.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Reaching for Excellence: Clara Lazen

It is amazing to see that discovery can still be accomplished where the only tools are an imagination and wooden kits in this day age where high-tech computer modeling is so prevalent.  Although the testing to see if this molecule is stable was done with computer modeling.

It is especially amazing since Clara Lazen is only 10 years old.  Kudos to Clara and her teacher, Kenneth Boehr, who recognized that molecule could exist and sent it on to be tested.  Also, kudos to Robert Zoellner for for keeping the inspiration alive and publishing a paper that includes Clara and Kenneth.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A recent news article “Origin of Dinosuar-Killing AsteroidRemains a Mystery” posted on the NASA website by Whitney Clavin and TrentPerrotto the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) has ruled out the hypothesis that a remnant from an Asteroid known as Baptistina caused the dinosaur extinction 65 mya.  According to the article, the Baptistina hypothesis was proposed in 2007 based on studies from ground-based telescopes.

I remember when the Baptistina hypothesis came out, in fact I wrote a related article on the extinction and refrenced it (Dinosaur Demise from a Collision: A Theory in the Making).  This work great in more ways than one.  Although the WISE data indicates that Baptistina is not the killer asteroid, it shows how science is done.  Sometimes new information, experiments, and observations support theories and hypotheses and sometimes they don’t.  If the data supports a hypothesis it may be moved into the realm of a theory, if it does not, it may be dropped.

We always teach and discuss the successful theories but we rarely teach or discuss unsuccessful theories and such.  I would like to say I will talk more about unsuccessful theories, but with so much information, much of it new, and dwindling time during the school year due to increased administration demands on teachers, I find it unlikely.  However, this one was short, recent, interesting, and most importantly, on my mind so I can discuss this with my students.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Blog of Phyz: Get your Scientist Valentines here!

From Dean Baird: The Blog of Phyz: Get your Scientist Valentines here!: It's that time of year again. Time to celebrate love and science for Valentines Day. My contributions can be found in my collection of Scien...

My vote is for Niels!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Best Teaching Strategy

Had a good day on Friday (2/3). Two students came after school for extra help.  These were not kids from my honors class but from my lower level class.  In fact, One of the students failed last marking period (she works after school four days a week). I was especially happy she came.  After we went over relations and acids and bases, they were both very excited and thanked me for staying extra with them.

I use a variety teaching techniques and many different teaching strategies as most effective teachers do. However, in my opinion, the best strategy is to get the student to 'want' to seek out help on their own.

Saturday, February 4, 2012