The Science Learnification Weekly (April 3, 2011)

This is a collection of things that tickled my science education fancy in the last week or so. They tend to be clumped together in themes because an interesting thing on the internet tends to lead to more interesting things.

I was busy this week helping run the regional science fair so I didn’t manage to find much time for blogging. But there almost always seems to be enough time for the Science Learnification Weekly. Spoon!

Random Standards-Based Grading Stuff

I’ve said it before: Standards-based grading (SBG) is a pretty hot topic in the blogosphere (SBG gala #5) and on twitter (#sbar). There’s a nice short overview of standards-based grading at the chalk|dust blog.

  • Khan Academy and SBG: Dan Anderson blogs on his “A Recursive Process” blog a nice little list of what SBG is and isn’t to him:

    SBG did not change the how, it only changed the measuring stick.

    I will leave the Khan Academy stuff alone. If anything, it has managed to get a lot of people talking about education in a way that they weren’t previously doing. If you’re interested in some of the heavier discussions related to Khan Academy, you can check out one of Frank Noschese’s recent posts or follow him on twitter (@fnoschese) since he is getting involved in a lot of Khan-related discussions and tweeting about it.

  • Violating the Laws of Grading: A Repeat Offender’s Story: Terie Engelbrecht (@mrsebiology) recently started blogging and there was much rejoicing. In this post she talks about some of her problems encountered in implementing SBG, and reminds us of the laws of grading at the high-school-level (which get downgraded to rules of thumb of grading at the University level):
  1. Law of Right Answers: I get all right answers, I get A…right?
  2. Law of I Can’t Get a B Because I Always Get an A: The “oh man are they in for a surprise when they get to university” law
  3. Law of GPAs: chewing gum and ruining lives

Flipped/Inverted Classroom

Learning From Mistakes

This was a delightfully hot topic this week.

  • Proof of concept: could students learn more if Kahn made mistakes? John Burk (Quantum Progress blog) shows off a screencast of a worked example with a purposeful mistake in it and a nice discussion about using this as a learning tool for students follows. I even propose a study in my own courses in fall, but it’s not yet fully fleshed out.
  • The Mistake Game: Kelly O’Shea (Physics! Blog!) takes the above idea one step further and gets her students to embed mistake(s) in their presented whiteboarding solutions in response to them being bored with seeing the correct solutions all the time.

Shared Labs

  • Shared labs: Andy Rundquist (I’m not watching TV blog) talks about how he manages to get multiple groups using the same experimental apparatus by having one group write-up procedure and theory, the next week another group takes the data, and on the third week yet another group does the data analysis. So each group gets exposure to 3 labs over this period. I wonder in the comment how this model can be adapted to self-directed labs.

4 Comments on “The Science Learnification Weekly (April 3, 2011)”

  1. Brian says:

    I really like these summaries. One because I and they are organized nicely-condensed and recorded in one place, so that I can go back. Two because we are reading a lot of the same things, so it’s like a reminder of what I am learnificating as well. 😉

  2. Joss Ives says:

    Thanks Brian. It’s often very interesting how themes start popping up when you start pulling together the posts of interest that week.

  3. I was initially surprised that the regional science fair was so late and that it fed directly to an all-Canada fair.

    But I realized that the population of Canada is less than the population of California, so an all-Canada science fair is comparable to the California state science fair (which is now less than 4 weeks away). The spacing between your regional fair and the next one up is a bit tighter than here (Santa Cruz County was March 12, California is May 2-3), but not enormously so.

    I’ll be judging at the California State science fair again this year. I have to travel there anyway to accompany my son, so I might as well be useful. (I don’t judge in his category or division.)

    • Joss Ives says:

      I’m co-organizing my regional one next year and served as some sort of “assistant to the” organizer this year. My son will be 6 next year and I’m excited to see if he will end up being interested in participating.

      Yes Canada is both giant and small at the same time. BC is the 3rd most populous province and we only had 13 regional science fairs (14 if you include the one in Yukon).

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