Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Oh, great. Another edublog . . .

Just what the World needs, another edublog. But this one will change your life. I swear.  Just kidding. You should probably leave now before you get sucked into my mind traps. 

Maybe using Physicstory will motivate me to make more comics again. Making those comics was fun. Physics teacher inside jokes. Inside Dad jokes, now that I look back at them. Since the last comic I have changed schools, helped grow a couple kids from scratch, and grown more gray. I have also changed my teaching game a bunch.

Why should I blog? 

Every educator seems to have a blog. I used to chalk up edublogs as just another example of the self promotion trend in America -- it's all about me. Everyone is trying to push their FB, IG, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, etc. To me, the edublog was just the teacher twist on that theme. I have since changed my view of edublogs. Yes, there are plenty of edublogs that seem to be focused solely on self promotion, but many seem to be honest platforms for sharing ideas and collaborating, which in turn promote the authors, but not egregiously.

I have a lot to share now and I should be sharing it. I have experienced some major changes over the past decade to what I value in education. These changes have driven me to reform my teaching in ways which I believe make more sense for students. Some of what I have stumbled through developing has really changed the experience for my students and myself in a highly positive way, creating more meaning, reducing stress, increasing fun, and getting better results. At first glance they might not seem like they fit well into the current educational system in our society, which has some major issues, but I am starting to see evidence that they work quite well. I want to share in the hopes that others can benefit. 

I have never been into the big education organizations/societies, and I feel like blogging can be a way around participating more heavily in those than I am comfortable. I understand and appreciate their value, I sometimes benefit from them, and I am really glad other people are into them. I just don't like all of the bureaucracy and ego clashing that often comes with being involved with them. There is always some drama, and I'm just not into it. 

I sometimes feel like I am teaching in a vacuum, and blogging might be a way out of that. I'd like more people to bounce ideas around with more regularly. I am hoping to get some collaborators working together on some cool progressive ideas in schools outside of my area and state. Maybe this will help kickstart some collaborations. I teach almost all of the physics classes at my school, and the two I do not teach are singletons, so I am not heavily involved in them, nor are those teachers heavily involved in my courses. Both of those teachers only teach one physics class, so as much as I love working with them, they are not as nerded out about physics as I am. They have other stuff to take up their time and energy. 

Blogging should make sharing easier. Having my reflections, rationalizations, reasonings, and ramblings in one place should be useful to me, and maybe others. I can spend more time talking to people about it, and less time rewriting or locating and reworking explanations.

What will I be blogging about?

Here is what I have been working on recently.
  • Skills-based learning and assessment
  • Student digital learning portfolios
  • Physics computational modeling
  • Student journaling
  • Project-based learning
Most of those are not new or crazy cutting edge or anything, and there are probably plenty of teachers who do most of them much better than I do, especially the latter three. But it has been really hard to find anyone who is doing actual skills-based learning and assessment with a focus on general science skills, rather than content standards, and establishing that as a foundation really changes the game for the rest of the list. Finding a teacher who has implemented digital portfolios in physics, has stuck with them, and who actually gets the kind of quality student work I am interested in has been near impossible.

Here are some topics I have been thinking about. Some are musings and lofty ideas, others I am already hashing out. Most are not specific to physics.
  • Integrated approach to learning skills -- Why do we teach separate subjects all the way through high school? Is there a better way?
  • Collaborative learning when you are forced to go remote (obviously on everyone's mind)
  • How to kill standardized testing, and what would replace it?
  • How to kill grades, and what would replace them?
  • Art in physics learning
  • Equity and making an anti-racist classroom
  • Digital tools and how to leverage their use but not overuse them
  • Project themes and revisiting projects
  • Student choice in guiding the class experience
I'll dive in deep into something next time. I'm looking forward to confusing you with my ramblings and/or boring you out of your skull. Thanks for making it this far, and thanks for any comments you leave now or in the future. I envision having other authors and/or guest posts on this blog at some point. If you are interested, please let me know.

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