- S9 (grade 8) - Changed the projects for the final three weeks to more local-based rather than global, as well as organised for small groups rather than individual projects. This came from previous trials and a school-wide drive towards Project-Based Learning (PBL). Trial tie-in project with the Waterstart program. (www.waterstartbermuda.org).
- S9 (grade 8) - Rewritten a number of topic booklets to better tailor them for our students and to formalise the grading system a bit. Now, each batch of work is graded and an overall percentage is worked out, which leads to an A --> D grade. Parents really appreciated it. Most of the students did too, although not all of them! This needs to be completed next year for the remaining topics. The other S9 teacher and I are considering grouping the topics into Bio/Chem/Phys almost on a termly basis. Not decided yet though. May not change the booklets too much.
- S9 (grade 8) - greater drive for scientific method in experiments and data analysis than before. Hopefully this will aid the transition to IGCSE next year.
- S9 (grade 8) - Weebly site created for all of the Middle School Science (www.saltusscience.weebly.com). However, as it contains a vast amount of copyrighted material from "Exploring Science" that was bought by the school that was previously accessed from the network, it has to be password protected. Issues with flash seems now to have been fixed.
- S9 (grade 8) - my version of the Middle School site on this website avoids copyright issues by a) not using the Exploring Science animations and b) providing links instead. (This was not really used by the students as I didn't want to confuse them with two websites, so I worked on it more for my own satisfaction and completeness.)
- IGCSE (grades 9/10) - wholesale re-write of the booklets. Removed all copyrighted material and included scoring for all classwork and labs. Homework removed and set separately. Less homework than before this year. This made keeping up with the grading much better this year.
- IGCSE (grades 9/10) - lots of time spent helping the students that struggle with physics.
- IGCSE (grades 9/10) - website material mostly finished for these courses.
- AP-1 (grade 11) - complete change of style. Moved away from the class booklets to more traditional notes and worksheet approach. Lots of CW and HW that are shorter and quicker to complete than the older style mammoth question papers. Graded investigative lab work clearly differentiated from the shorter, more straightforward labs.
- AP-1 (grade 11) - Island Physics website for this section finished, although obviously can be improved upon when I next teach the course (Sept 2019).
- Major push to "how to answer exam questions" in the final weeks, including revision mats and annotated past-questions.
- Big push for the ROV competition. Clearwater still won despite our innovation of having a separate underwater camera to deal with the wind-ruffled surface killing visibility.
- Started a Saltus Island website.
- Big push to better publicise physics at Saltus by decorating the stairwell notice boards with our material and get rid of the old boring displays from other subjects!
- What didn't go so well: did not really ever feel happy with the S11 class (grade 10) as there were some disillusioned and disruptive students that never really got dealt with by the management, and given the extremely high ability and enthusiasm of a large number of students, this was disheartening. Everyone in the class would have been happier if these few bad apples had been removed.
Did these help? Time will tell. The AP-1 results were good, in that they were far higher than the global average, but lower than that of the rest of the school. For some reason College Board thinks that it is ok to write an exam that has a vastly lower pass rate than other subjects (e.g. Chem, Maths and Bio). Do they want people to avoid taking physics? Do they want physics teachers to be frowned upon by the school management? Do they want students to fail to get into good universities? Physics is a mathematical and problem-solving subject, and therefore, waffly questions are not generally appreciated by the students that are inclined to take the subject.
What of the future? The plan is to further push for more independent learning. The hard part is to avoid "project fatigue", where students are doing project work in most of their subjects! Projects should be something special rather than a chore. Should we be moving away from standardised exams? This would mean driving students away that are aiming to study in the UK university system and effectively handing them to our rival Warwick Academy, but maybe getting some of their students that are heading to the US/CAN.
Goals for the last two weeks, while stuck in Maine Camp:
- work on the IP website, particularly Fluids, Thermal and Electric Fields
- add more labeled-graphics that involve Bermuda life
- Think about a middle school project or investigation for each subject area (bio/chem/phys) or a general science version, where groups can tackle a variety of projects (e.g. group 1 - electrolysis, group 2 - bouncing ball, group 3 - heart rate.
- Cycle more to re-energise myself, been feeling tired and sluggish these past couple of months.
- Read that homework book given to us by the new head! (Ethics of Excellence - although so far the only things that the author has in common with me are a) carpenter and b) underpaid.)