Rearranging the furniture for fun.

January 25, 2012 at 10:18 PM Leave a comment

Oh no, didn’t preview the dvd I was going to show today. Again.  It sounded great on the cover “NOVA: The Conquest of Cold” but kids glazed over with the history of science, told in pompous (British) tones with dark images and crazy old alchemists. Quick change needed between first and second period. Too bad really, I love this kind of thing about as much as they hate Downton Abbey. Nuf said.

I’d uploaded some interactive animations of molecules changing state. Instead of homework, they got to play around with the animations in class and figure out the links between pressure, volume and temperature, the kind of molecule and melting and boiling points. Here they are: State of Matter Simulation from CU, Simple States of Matter Hotplate Animation from Harcourt and NOVA’s Conquest of Cold simulations and information.

To make it even more fun, I rearranged the furniture so that I could wander behind them to a. save my back and b. Quietly check what site they were on as the live Net Nanny (so we could all enjoy porn sites a few of which do get through our district filter. But no YouTube. Just saying.)

How to blow up the container with wildly wizzing molecules spread like wild fire, and with it, the first glimmer of Boyle’s Law. That was a lot easier than when I was at school. So fun to play around with the different variables and see what happens with no risk and no clean up. Had one student do it on the projector at the front while others were working on their own computers, just in case someone was unclear where to go or what to do.

A few minutes before the end of the class, cued them to share and write one or two new things they learned, and cite their site.

Interesting for me to see where they tended to go with it.  Fun to let them be playful like the best scientists, and like they are naturally as they cruise the web at home.

Changing desks and seating around, rearranging the classroom regularly is a powerful way to signal different activities, different expectations and different ways of learning.  The social part is fun for them too.

Changing the class layout for specific activities makes it easier for me to manage – the easier it is for me to circulate, the more I do, and the more friendly and thoughtful the whole atmosphere is. I recommend it, although a little more forward planning would have made for a less crazy day.


Entry filed under: Chemistry topics, Class Management, Inquiry and critical thinking, Physics Topics, Reflections, Technology in class. Tags: , , , , .

Turning off kids with tough concepts… or not. ”I told them a thousand times, those stupid kids.”

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