Competition – Is it a good tool to motivate kids?

I always thought that competition is an excellent way to motivate kids. Many times, I made contests in the class, competitions, etc. I always found it that extra bit more fun when I was a student, if I had to compete against some other students. That’s probably why I really like games. My friends always tell me that I am very competitive and some friends even tell me that I’m overly competitive. It’s true. I make a game out of everything. Even with myself. With anything I do, I try to improve myself, get faster, get more efficient… win.

Just like my life, I run my classes as a place to improve, a place to get faster, to understand best, to get more efficient – and what better way than a friendly competition?!

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Understanding Projectile Motion Misconceptions

I am reading an awesome book on Cognitive Sciences and how it applies to teaching students in the classroom: Schools for Thought – a Science of Learning in the Classroom by John Bruer. I will write more on this book later, but I wanted to focus on an idea I got from it to teach in the classroom. One chapter of the book relates to teaching science, and specifically, teaching Newtonian Physics… exactly what I’m teaching right now to my grade 11 physics class.

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The Pendulum Experiment

This lab is designed to investigate the motion of a pendulum, specifically its period. From some initial observations, the students are to collect reasonable data to determine the acceleration due to gravity.

Note: You will need a pendulum setup: a light string connected to a heavy weight on one side and a stationary object high above the floor on the other (like the ceiling), letting the pendulum swing back and forth. The string length should be adjustable.

Time Management: Putting in the Big Rocks First

A long time ago, I heard this awesome story/analogy for time management. Here it is:

One day teacher was speaking to a group of students about time management. He pulled out an empty aquarium and set it on a table in front of him. Then he produced about a dozen large rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the container.  When it was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this container full?” Everyone in the class said, “Yes.”

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Why bother learning more than arithmetic?

As babies, if we never learned to walk, could we still survive in this world?  I think so.  In fact, it is much easier to keep your balance on four legs rather than two.  It is hard to learn to walk, with all the falling down, the trial and error, and mostly error at the beginning, all the bumps and bruises, the tears.  Why do we even bother to teach our children to walk?  Well, walking does make life a lot easier, and maybe in the long run it’s worth it.  For instance, it is much faster to get around on two feet, rather than crawling.  When getting around in the street, all of our clothes and hands don’t get dirty, only the soles of our shoes do (again a convenience created for “walking people”).  Also, it is much easier to carry something while walking rather than crawling (multi-tasking).

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Teacher salaries and house prices in Canadian cities – 2012

Recently a reader posted a comment on one of my blog entries about Teacher Pay Scale Across Canada where I compared salaries of teachers across various cities.

She writes: “Sure, we are paid fairly well but our working conditions are difficult. I know for a fact from several teachers from Quebec that we, in Alberta are expected to put in all sorts of after school time. I don’t get to walk away when my school day ends. And let’s not even talk about the fact that I could by 3 houses in Quebec for the cost of my ordinary bungalow in Calgary! GRRR.”

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