Sunday, July 23, 2006

Syracuse Saturday Sans Sunshine

Friday was flyday and in only three flights, I got from Sactown to Syracuse. Saturday was a rain day in Syracuse. Steady, warm, and... steady. Lots of soaked physics teachers around campus and brisk umbrella sales in the bookstore. I thought to bring my raincoat and an umbrella, so I was good to go.

I spent the day with Dewey Dykstra, a physics education rock star. I attended his optics workshop in 1989; to this day I have never seen a better set of inquiry-based labs on reflection, refraction, pinholes, and lenses. Upon completion of the pinholes-lens sequence, you really had an understanding of lenses, rather than a simple ability to draw ray diagrams and "get the right answer" to thin-lens equation problems.

Today's workshop focused on learning theory with an emphasis on elicitation of student conceptions. I'll wait while you savor my clever use of the term "focus." Some of the material was a bit heavy, but the point was how much you can learn as a teacher through sequences of elicitations and discussions. Dewey is a master of this, and he's a genious when it comes to uncovering misconceptions then devising activities that confront those misconceptions. Very groovy stuff.

I also got a kick out the tangents we were able to get him on. Hall's (of The Hall Effect) writings on the nature of the electric fluid, how he groups his students for lab work, etc. I'd pay for a workshop just to hear more of his stories!

Anyway, I didn't miss the 110F that Sacramento was enduring.

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