An open book and its reflection

Building Knowledge From Facts

Every year my students write down some version of this definition: “Period: a row on the periodic table.  The atoms of elements in the same period have the same number of electron energy levels.”  They memorize it and can spew it out on a test or quiz, but they don’t really know what it means.  I know they don’t completely understand because when we begin constructing models of atoms they just bui... »

Technology blues

Technology blues

So I have spent the last several weeks convincing myself my hard drive wasn’t really failing, and then of course it did.  My computer’s in the shop and this blogging platform doesn’t like tablets too much.  I haven’t even been able to congratulate Dan on his recent achievement, so yay Dan! This does provide a great opportunity to wax nostalgic for teaching techniques gone b... »

Peer-reviewed expletives, error-filled ed data, frat bans, college costs, and the Newtown shooter: Required Readings, 11.23.14

Peer-reviewed expletives, error-filled ed data, frat bans, college costs, and the Newtown shooter: Required Readings, 11.23.14

Wondering about whether that journal asking you to submit a manuscript is a legit open access resource? Well, if it accepts an article titled “Get me off your f^[#ing mailing list” consisting of nothing but that phrase written over and over, you might want to send your research elsewhere. Data-driven education policy seems to be a focus these days, but what happens when the data are se... »

Batman and Robin meme: Excuse me Mr... / Doctor!

It Takes a Village to Make a Doctor

I defended my dissertation Wednesday, which now makes me technically-officially Dr. Dan. Please update your Rolodexes accordingly. It also got me thinking about the long, meandering, and sometimes arduous path followed by those of us who do end up receiving doctorates, and just how many mentors are required along the way–even from some of the earliest times in our educations. In my case, for... »

So You Want to Teach about Comets?

So You Want to Teach about Comets?

Last week, humanity took a huge leap forward in solar system exploration. If you’re a science teacher wanting to talk about comet science in your class, there are some great resources out there for doing that. First of all, if you can get your (gloved) hands on some dry ice, do it. I’ve posted the “make a comet” activity here before, so I recommend you wow your students wit... »

Dorchester High School Science

Active learning as get-out-of-teaching?

A recent article in the Chronicle highlighted the growing shift toward student- or learner-centered teaching in higher education.  The idea is that rather than a professor lecture to a passive audience who soak up the wisdom of the sage on the stage, the class is structured around activities and discussion where the students learn through doing some sort of exercise to discover the information as ... »

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