Genetic Algorithm Game: a great way to show the application of evolution to high school students

A while back I was in a situation where I had to teach evolution to some grade nine students. I am more of the physical science/math teacher, and biology is not my cup of tea.

In physics, there are also unproven “theories” that we follow. In fact, all of Newtonian physics is pretty much “false” and yet we teach it all the time as fundamental physics. Light is both a wave and a particle… how can that ever be possible? Either it can travel through objects (like a wave / energy) or it is stopped by objects (like a particle)? For some reason, the physical theories don’t affect people in the same emotional way as the theory of evolution. We have a way of dealing with the physics theories on a logic / thinking level. No religion is offended (although ~400 years ago, Copernicus’ theory of planetary motion around the sun was dissputed by the Catholic church). Nobody’s extreme beliefs come under fire with all these silly physics theories.

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The Hydraulic Crane – a great science project!

I had many requests for a step by step instruction of making the “Hydraulic Crane”.

Although this wasn’t my construction (one of my brilliant students did this one for a project that I assigned), I can figure out the basics from what I saw.

Note: The following is only meant as a start for anyone that wants to try this project. However, everyone has their own twist to every assignment, every design. Use your imagination to make the crane better, and your own!

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How to teach kids long subtraction with borrowing

Recently I taught my son (grade 2) how to do subtraction of large numbers with borrowing. I am a high school math teacher, so I thought that teaching this subject would be a piece of cake. However, I didn’t realize that I would have to be this creative in order to actually get through to my son. Anyway, my method worked like a charm, so I’m posting it. It’s pretty basic, and I’m sure it has been widely used by good teachers (that really understand how to teach kids math), but in case you haven’t thought of this method, here it is.

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Teacher Pay Scale Across Various provinces in Canada (Updated: 2021)

Periodically, I look how the different provinces’ rank in terms of paying for their teachers. When I started doing this comparison, I lived in Quebec. Then I updated the table in 2011, and shortly after that I moved to Alberta. (Sick and tired of getting the short end of the stick.) Now I’ve been working here in Alberta for the last 10 years, and finally I feel like I’m compensated properly, for all the work that I do.

Just to be consistent, I’m listing the salary for a teacher with 8 years of experience and a bachelor degree + 2 year teaching degree. Also, I am choosing jurisdictions in Canada that I wouldn’t mind moving to – mostly cities. But if you want to check your salary in the given province, the link should point you in the right direction.

Here are the teacher salaries in 2021.

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Should I teach my children to read as soon as possible?

Recently I had a conversation with a colleague of mine: She was appalled at an ad she saw on TV about a system to teach “babies” to learn to read (something like LeapFrog or Vtech). She said: “Why would anybody want to teach their baby to read?” As this statement was brought up in passing, and I was busy at the time doing something else, I just agreed and moved on with my life. But as the day went on, the statement kept bothering me and stuck with me.

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How to teach my young child to write and recognize letters?

Recently I’ve been trying to teach my two and a half year old child to learn some letters from the alphabet. I want him to learn to write his name, and at least recognize all the letters of the alphabet. I figure this is not too early for him as he is really into drawing and “reading” books and even pretending he is reading the letters. So everyday I sit with him at the table, like a big boy, and we do “school work” for about 1/2 an hour. It’s fun for him, because he thinks he’s like my older two sons, doing his homework. It’s mostly fun stuff we do anyway, and he has no clue that he is “learning” anything. For him it’s just quality fun time with his mom; for me it’s also quality one on one time with him, but also the sooner he learns the alphabet, the sooner he’ll be ready to start reading and therefore the sooner he’ll be an independent learner.

But let’s get back to how I actually teach him letters (and I did do this for my two older boys at around the same age: around 2 to 3 years old). Here are some tips I picked up from various places and just my own experience how best to teach really young kids to write / recognize letters:

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Mirror-Image Writing of Young Children

A couple years ago, my oldest son went to preschool. He was a bright kid, and also my first, so I spent a lot of time with him before hand, teaching him the letters, numbers, shapes, etc. By the time he started preschool, he knew all the letters, and of course he knew how to write his name beautifully. I was so proud of him, and was excited for him to go to school and continue his learning.

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