Physical Science

Making Conservation of Energy Fun?

This is a two part post. First, I am currently student teaching physics at the high school level. My teacher is amazing with the content and the students but I am not too thrilled by the teaching style. She has asked me to teach a short lesson over conservation of energy which will be after a lab. My questions: -Do I follow her teaching style because it is her class or do I go my own way? (To be fair she has not told me to teach in her style but I'm still curious on the general opinion) -If I go my own way with this lesson, how can I make it more enjoyable? (If I stayed with my teachers lesson it would be a 20 min powerpoint capped off with an example problem)

Ian Ashland
Ian Ashland
30 Activity Points

Hi. I can relate to your situation. The way that you handle this depends on your relationship and comfort with the instructor. First discuss the situation with your supervising professor, if you have one because chances are they have previous experience with this and they can help moderate this situation. If not then, out of respect for the instructor I would recommend that you, if you are comfortable, explain what you would like to do.Avoid controversy by explaining that this is an idea, and you are seeking advice. Be patient and listen to the answer, it may surprise you. Whatever the response, respect their viewpoint and act accordingly. Remember, the lesson can always be taught in your future classroom. It doesn't have to be discarded. Good luck!

Tammi Kreckel
Tammi Kreckel
4030 Activity Points

If you still go with the powerpoint, you could add some videos or rap videos. For example, the energy song by Mr. Edmonds is cheesy enough for the students that they would enjoy it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uLSFigtLKg&feature=related. Or you could try a Jeopardy game or Who Wants to be a Millionaire game to wrap up the powerpoint. Awhile ago, I used to redesigned the Burger King crowns for the winners as the jeopardy king/queen for the day.

Judy Okazaki
Judy Okazaki
4175 Activity Points

Ian: I vote for you to do your own thing. Learning through powerpoints has some merit but not if it is the only way one teaches. Perhaps having students do an activity to explore what it conservation of energy means first will deepen the understanding of this concept. The following might be of help for you: http://www.thephysicsfront.org/static/unit.cfm?sb=5&course=3 I strongly believe developing your unique style will be important but learning from this educator must be incorporated as well. Regardless, good luck.

Adah Stock
Adah Stock
101510 Activity Points

I think you should do your own thing. With that being said, I think the main focus here are the students themselves. Like you've observed in your class, your teacher is great with content and the students but you don't like the style. The question is how are the students doing in the class? As teachers we need to adapt to our students needs. I would discuss your plans with teacher and do the lesson they way you want. I as a teacher am always willing to try new things as long as they help the students, I don't care if it comes from an "expert" or someone new. If all goes well then you will have taught not only the students but the teacher as well. If you have a good teacher they will learn and incorporate their ideas. If you lesson doesn't work well then you've learned something also. Either way you'll learn something quite valuable. I like Adah's idea about an activity first then going into the lesson. It gets the students thinking about conservation of energy. When I used to teach physics this when we would do a marble roller coaster as a final project. Being that you may only have one lesson this may not be practical. A demo that could work is hanging a heavy weight in front of the class on a string so you have a swing. Ask a student come up and you place the weight next to the students face and let it go and watch it swing back. As you know the weight will not swing back any higher because energy is conserved. Usually the student will move and then you can take their place because you are more "brave" (and you trust the laws of physics). Once you demonstrate your "bravery" have the student come back to redeem him/herself. Then you got them interested. Then go from there.

Colin Delos Reyes
Colin Delos Reyes
1430 Activity Points

Aloha Ian, Go with your style and what you want to do. This is your chance to hone it, try it and improve it so that students are learning. I had a student teacher and I really appreciated having her do her own thing, successful or not. I was able to take some of the things she did and add it to my teaching toolbox. She did some things that were not very successful, I knew it would not be successful but I went ahead and let her do it because she needed the experience to see when things don't go the way planned or they are poorly received in an environment where she was being supported and mentored. It allowed for better conversations on how to approach in the future without being left to figure it out on her own. This is the point of student teaching. If we don't mistakes, we can't learn from them and then, cannot provide that input to our students. Remember, just because your teacher may be experience, it does not mean they are not still learning. Often, having a younger teacher in our classroom, helps us to remember where we were and adapt to a changing environment. We were young once too, but our experiences and values from our youth were different and we still need to adapt and make judgments on what we can/cannot do yet still ensure that our students are engaged and learning. On the other side of the coin, share it with your cooperating teacher first. She/he will have something useful to say to help guide you into being more successful with the lesson. The overall arching deal here - is your relationship and rapport with the students. If you have an engaging lessons that allows them to learn the content, then you are fine. Best of Luck! Cindy Fong

Cynthia Fong
Cynthia Fong
3245 Activity Points

Go with your own style and enbed any elements of your teachers style that align naturally with your own. Good luck

Steve Staley
Steve Staley
2480 Activity Points

Ian, Being a mentor is a two way road; you and your supervising teacher should be talking to each other about pedagogy, content knowledge, and how best to deliver information to students as well as how to design best practice lessons in the classroom. Please talk with the teacher and maybe suggest ask for input on your lesson design. This may highten the learning situation for both of you and enable both of you to learn from each other. It is important to be sensitive but willing to discuss lesson designs and methods. Form a collaborative team with the teacher and enjoy the experience and remember that current practice encourages teachers to step away from only using powerpoints and to enhancing student understanding with more constructivism and student led inquiry. ~patty

Patricia Rourke
Patricia Rourke
45915 Activity Points

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