Monday, January 03, 2005

Lesson Learned: It's good to be back. At least that's what I'm telling myself.

Well, today was our first day back after Winter Break (or Christmas Vacation, Christmas Break, whatever). Yesterday was hard; I had to keep telling myself that it'll be good to get back into a structured routine, see my friends, play with science, yadda-yadda-yadda. I'll believe it in a few days.

I had planned an easy lab for today and a lot of bribes to make it less painful for the kids. The bribery began after our bellwork (which I try to have most days). I had them define four words: force, friction, gravity, and acceleration. After having a student read the definition fom the book, I asked for any volunteers who could either give an example or demonstration of each word. It really worked out well in periods 4 and 6. I got kids who rarely if never do well participate and come up with appropriate examples!

In the lab, the groups were given a piece of wood, aka sled, with a screw sticking out of it (perpendicular to the broadest side), a spring scale, and 5 cans of soda (yeah, that really got their attention. You'd've thought they never had a soda before!). You put a can on the sled, hook the spring scale over the screw, and measure the force needed to pull the can and record it in a data table, and repeat with 2,3,4, and 5 cans. The fun part came afterwards! Each team turned one of the desks over, tied a string to a leg, and using the spring scale pull the desk and record what happened. Then, they put the soda cans under the desk and pull again and record the force needed then. They were amazed how easy it was to move the desk with the soda! I had fun watching them. As usual, they had a difficult time thinking about what it all means.

OK-so, I was happy to be back and it was nice seeing some of the kids again (don't let them know I said this!). Except for one student, whom I regard as my nemesis. I had him last year and he didn't like me then and he doesn't like me now. Since he is failing all of his other classes, I try not to take this too personally. SooooOOoooo, he comes in and instead of reading the board and getting to work like most of the other students he dawdles about, looking at this neighbors stuff (like he always does). Well, I wasn't about to start 2005 that way and I looked him right in the eye and said, "Look, you are not going to start the new year this way. Take out your planner, write in your homework, and define the words on the board." To which he began to argue (again, like he always does), to which I firmly replied, "I am not going to argue with you! Take out your stuff and get to work! Be the good student I know you can be.... You are going to pass this class and graduate this year even if it kills me, do you understand?" Boy, that really shut him up (no easy task!) and he was fairly decent the rest of the class time! Hee-hee! Sometimes I love being evil.

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