From the classroom, to the Universe

Archive for July, 2012

Thoughts About The Use of Gadgets in School.

Since the 21st century Era, people has become attached to electronic devices.  Even a third world country like the Philippines has welcomed and embraced the digital culture. In fact electronic devices tops on the list of imported goods in the Philippines.  Consequently,  a typical student enjoys one or two gadgets within the reach of his or her pocket.  But the thing is, most schools prohibit bringing electronic devices – which I think  needs a revamp.

Even if bringing these inside the campus is explicitly stipulated in the students’ handbook, they still would bring these in school whether for communication for their parents (which ironically that parents themselves give to their kids knowing it is a prohibited device)  or simply for their personal entertainment. In its simplest sense – every student who has one (hidden or in plain sight)  is an offender, well the parents of course is an accessory to the offense.

These devices a.k.a “gadgets” could be a great tool in learning. It could simply replace a simple dictionary, calculator, periodic table of elements , etc. It also can be used in Physics when analyzing motion of objects, conversion of units, table of physical constants, perhaps recording of one’s voice in an English class or music class, listening to audio books,  something to be used in copying lectures and notes then sharing it with the rest via social networking sites. There are hundreds of e-books around while some schools has actually substituted tablets for their textbooks.

In my opinion, the rule itself against these gadget is the reason they have a violation and we as an educational institution actually miss the opportunity to give an important, very important lesson to our students. Clearly, we have not  actually teach them how to responsibly use their gadget or to let them enjoy these things without forgetting etiquette that one must realize in owning one. Sure there are oceans of reasons why we do not allow them (like cheating etc.) to but  that is simply because we had not taught when or how to use it appropriately. If our education is really a preparation for the real world, what is stopping us from letting them use those things responsibly?

While some school that has adapted in this era in dealing with this issue  (you might want to check PSHS’  “fair use policy” ) , we just simply say “NO” to it.  Time has changed, it might also mean that some rules,  rules that may not seem anymore logical may not apply and therefore should change.

DISCLAIMER: Thoughts pointed out by the author does not necessarily reflect the views of its employer

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Frustrations

I can’t help but be really frustrated in trying to do modeling instructions for my class. Are my students ready for this method? Are their mathematical skills adequate? I’ve got 40 students per class on the average, how can I be sure if everyone gets to work and understand it? Will I make it on time as prescribed by the scope and sequence for first quarter? Importantly – will they take the challenge of answering real life problems or are they contented in the traditional, static and pseudo-reality problems? More importantly – am I ready for this? can I do it? Should I halt? If not now, then when? Resistance to change is normal.  It takes more than a mountain of courage to change ideals and practice. I am not surprised after all, it took centuries for people to accept and believe that the earth is at the center of the solar system and matter is made up of smaller particles!


Teaching Physics? Really?

I learned physics through lectures.Through lectures I teach physics, logical isn’t?

But I am not happy with the instructional method of lecturing but it really felt like it was effective, simple and convenient. I deliver the lecture (ccompanied with a LCD projector, with some demos), students nod and smile, we do seat works, cheesy stuffs, – PERFECT!  I can tell I did a good job. But reflecting on reality of the exam I gave , which is based on conceptual reasoning on motions – I was surprised! Most failed and even the best students didn’t get the scores they expected to.  Was the test poorly constructed? Or perhaps the instructions was ineffective.

In the past few months, I’m trying to learn teaching the subject through modeling. Results according to proponents were promising. I am but ready to jump to the wagon but my schedule isn’t. I’ve got a month to teach half of the remaining topic for physics. I feel that I won’t make it in time, or I won’t cover as much as I need, again, an age old debate on quality vs quantity.

I just hope modeling instruction workshops are available on this side of the planet. For the mean time, thanks to teachers who blog and share their modelling experience, I’ll try to learn myself through for the benefit of my students learning.