Sunday, May 29, 2011

Rube Goldbergs

For the final two weeks of 6th grade science I decided to ask the students to build Rube Goldberg machines. Most of the project is explained in the video above, but in general the students were put into groups and asked to build devices that threw away a piece of trash and made use of at least 1 pulley and 1 lever. They spent about 7 class days on these projects and the results were encouraging. Even more encouraging were the comments at the end of the final exam that noted the Rube Goldberg machines as the 'favorite activity of the year'. I even heard from other teachers that the 6th graders were discussing the project outside of class, which was nice to hear.

From a teaching perspective, this project might have also been the easiest/best thing I did all year. Prep time was minimal after the initial gathering of supplies and project assignment, and grading was even easier than that because all the groups did such a good job overall.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The End of the Year...

With the end of the year in sight, I offer a few reflections...

1. I wonder if any teacher gets to the end of the year, turns around, looks back on what they've accomplished, and says, "Wow, I did everything I planned on doing!" Instead, what I feel like asking is, "Wow, did I accomplish anything I wanted to?" Overall the year has been as successful as I probably could have hoped for, but that certainly doesn't mean I did everything I hoped to. There are still those students in Algebra that are unprepared for 9th grade and those students in Science that haven't developed a passion for the subject yet. There are still those project ideas that I didn't get to and those activities I never did. There are still people - faculty and students - that I never got to know outside of the classroom or never had a 1-on-1 chat with. I guess that is what next year is for...

2. Finding a job is sort of hard. Last year when I was searching for a job, I stumbled upon Chinquapin and it has worked out wonderfully. I've really enjoyed my year, and while it has been exhausting at times, in retrospect I think I've grown a lot. This year I thought I was going to, once again, serendipitously find a job that I loved and everything would work out swimmingly... Not so fast. After applying to nearly 40 positions, interviewing on the phone with a bunch, interviewing in person with a handful, and constantly having my hopes dashed and revived, I've discovered what most adults probably already know - 'good jobs do not grow on trees'. While 'beggars cannot be choosers' I continue to be overly discerning during my search and remain optimistic that everything will work out. We'll see. If not, Mom and Dad, is my room still available?

3. For all of the college readers out there - the first year of life after college is whatever you make of it. I was afraid of leaving Williams and definitely have gotten nostalgic at times for the Purple Valley, but living on my own in a new city with new people doing something completely new has been... well... really new. What I loved about Williams was that there was a constant stream of stimuli always keeping you socially and intellectually engaged. If you constantly introduce new stimuli into your life after college, I think you'll find your first year to be incredibly rewarding - albeit difficult and tiring, but in the end, rewarding.