The Science Learnification Weekly (April 10, 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 find on the internet tends to lead to more interesting things.

The blogosphere was filled with posts on the Khan Academy again this week. Too many to link to, but one of the big points being made by the education bloggers is that Khan Academy should be trying to hire more educators to get involved instead of more programmers.


  • I need to teach reading comprehension: Mylene and I chat about how to get students to read and make sense of their textbooks. It turns into a discussion of my sort-of-implementation of JiTT (Just-in-Time Teaching) and some compare and contrast of student textbook reading vs. screencasting. Mylene took some of comments and incorporated them into a post on student preparation for class. Mylene had an insanely busy blogging week with 7 new posts (and she even got fresh-pressed) so make sure to check out some of her other posts from the week.
  • Textbooks: not just for memorizing anymore: Terie Engelbrecht has two major points to make about textbooks: (1) textbooks should be used as just one of many resources for knowledge acquisition and (2) textbooks should be used to help students learn how to read and understand informational text.

Chatty me on some “not from this past week” posts

I had some great conversations with other bloggers over on their blogs this week. Ones with Mylene were discussed above.

  • Gaming the classroom: Bret Benesh and I start strategizing how to gamify our classes in a way that would give rewards with classroom value in exchange for “advancing in the game” or “gaining experience points”. These rewards included ideas such as no longer having to demonstrate basic skills (such as integration by hand in upper-division physics courses) or gaining access to new types of assessments. We have now taken the discussion over to a collaborative document between the two of us and will report back when we figure out some more of the details.

More learning from mistakes

  • Leading with mistakes: Oops, missed this one last week in my collection of learning from mistakes post links. Mark Hammond talks some more about getting students to find mistakes that were made purposely by the teacher and discusses the evolution of mistake-prone characters that he and Kelly O’Shea use in their classes.

One of my favorite circuits questions as a lab practicum

  • Circuits Lab Practicum: Geoff Schmit posts one of my all-time favorite questions to give to students (usually on quizzes or exams) as a lab practicum. It’s the one where they have to figure out how a bunch of light bulbs are connected to a battery by unscrewing and re-screwing each of the bulbs and observing the behavior of the the other bulbs.

Global Physics Department

The Global Physics Department is the name we have given to the weekly physics education chat (9:30 EDT on Wednesdays) that got started through twitter. Lots of great things come up in our discussions there. Here are a few links of things that came up:

  • Tweetment of twitter in the classroom: At this past week’s chat/meeting John (JT) Miller gave a presentation on his use of twitter as part of his courses and he has a nice big collection of relevant links.
  • Report on our “conquest of cold” experiment: In the discussion that followed Miller’s presentation, John Burk pointed us to his post where he discusses the back-channel he had going while students (2), some fellow faculty, and his father-in-law watched the PBS’s Conquest of Cold from their respective homes.

One Comment on “The Science Learnification Weekly (April 10, 2011)”

  1. […] reading a lot of physics blogs recently. In fact, they are beginning to make up the bulk of my PLN, […]

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