Sunday 7 February 2010

Things I Learned From My Students #3: Special Pre-Grading Edition

It's time for official grading and internal inspections. Which means I'm getting assessed on the quality of my teaching. Eeeeek!! So here's a mid-term edition of TILFMS:
  1. Once you use a "That's what she said" joke in front of your adult students, they will sprinkle each biology class with a liberal serving of the same joke.
  2. You will actually find that even the topic of tropisms in plants can be made more interesting with a "That's what she said" response from a student.
  3. Even grown-up students like to do silly experiments growing broad beans in glass beakers.
  4. Nothing gets a kid interested in chemistry quite like turning a liquid phenolphthalein pink.
  5. Students sometimes need to dress up in a lab coat and goggles to feel like real scientists.
  6. PowerPoint can be used to make multiple choice quizzes and it looks amazing!
  7. The word "pussy" is rude and must be asterisked to "pu***", yet "dick", "tits" and "ass" are all perfectly acceptable labels for diagrams showing male and femal sexual characteristics.
  8. The poor darlings have never heard of the word "vulva", but have heard of a Volvo.
  9. Sometimes a badly-behaved class is much more fun to teach than a well-behaved quiet group.
  10. Having a student assert that the male cancer cell she is examining under a microscope is from "ballsack cancer" doesn't actually affect how an observer thinks the lesson went.
  11. Students who speak English as a second language really like simple, clean jokes, e.g. "What do you call a fish with no eyes?" "A fsh." It helps that they were learning about follicle-stimulating hormone at the time.
  12. The increase in admin and paperwork sometimes makes the job less fun, but the contact time with those kids balances it out and then some.
  13. Mimosa pudica plants are amazing.
  14. If you avoid scrolling down to the comments, YouTube has a phenomenal range of teaching resources.
  15. Some of my students have incredible talents in non-scientific areas such as art and music, and I really must make use of this in class.

Monday 1 February 2010

Memorising The Periodic Table

I had a great teacher when I was doing GCSE Science. Right at the start of year 10, Mr Middleton taught the class how to memorise the first 30 elements of the Periodic Table. I have a feeling I may be one of the only students from that class who can still say 16 years on that I remember all 30 still. Last week, at last, I was able to pass on the story to the next generation, so I'll share it with you too, in case it's useful.
Well, for starters you have to start off with Hydrogen and Helium, but that's not much to remember.

Now I'm going to tell you a story about a Polish lady called LiBe BCNOFNe. She lives in a small town called NaMg, and she has a friend called Al. Al has a rather disgusting habit, because he SiPS Chlorine. He lives neAr Libe in the village of KCa.

What does all this tell you? That Science Tichers are Very Crazy Men.

And you know what? I nearly forgot to mention FeCoNi. He's Al's Italian CuZn.
Alternatively, you could go all out and try to memorise all the elements (albeit not in order) as per Tom Lehrer:

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