Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Day 2 - Wednesday, January 19

This day was a shortened day (that’s right, four-day week with a shortened day for the students). The order becomes very weird, since fourth hour has to be lunch and lunch can’t be shortened. Our prep time was spent putting together molecular models for the AP class with Coordination Numbers of 4, 5, and 6 (new stuff for them!)

AP-Passed out the molecular models, letting the students trade amongst themselves. Mr. CT had to explain why something with six bits connected to it would have a geometry called octahedral. The other thing that stood out was showing how water had a tetrahedral electron geometry that resulted in its bent shape.

Chem 1, Class 2 (told you it was weird) – Mr. CT stamped their worksheets from yesterday and new sheets were handed out. We had a little online animation that we showed off to try to give kids a visual sense of KMT, and used it to try to guide the thinking in some of the sections. They were to work on their own and were given no introduction. It seems that lethargy may just be an endemic quality to this class, thought they were working on what was given to them.

Chem 1, Class 3 – Same thing, but this time Mr. CT gives an introduction to the worksheet to the entire group. this class is definitely more feisty than the other Chem 1 classes.

Lunch and Chem 1, Class 1 (unshortened!) – So there’s this thing that Midwest High does called Channel One. The deal is that televisions have been provided, free of charge, to all the classrooms in exchange for ten minutes of the student’s day with their edutainment on. It seems very strange to me, especially since the channel is supported by commercials. I just can’t see a real benefit for anyone but Channel One on this deal, but that’s beside the point, since the school decided to use the televisions for their own purposes today.

During the appropriate Channel One time (first 10 minutes of the fourth hour class) the school decided to show a video on Internet safety, produced by the students. The whole thing made me kind of uncomfortable. I know I should make allowances for the faults that will inevitably be present in student work, that’s why it’s student work rather than master work, but I feel that if the school is going to show something to the entire school with the reasoning that the presentation will increase student safety, they should make a reasonable effort to make sure that the presentation actually does what is asked. I couldn’t see the video presented preventing more harm than it would cause if students took it seriously. Luckily (?), many kids ignored the video entirely like they do every Channel One program, so it was mostly a waste of time.

If they did take the video seriously, they would find that the entire thing was geared towards telling the kids to protect themselves from creepy strangers that masquerade as teens. There was a little bit about keeping privacy, but again still in relation to keeping away information away from these boogeymen. The video wasn’t even good at its focus, warning of the dangers without providing a method of safely meeting new people online, which means it runs aground on the same rocks that sink abstinence-only education, warning away people from a very desirable, common and potentially very safe activity without providing a way to make it as safe as it can be. To me, though, the biggest flaw of the video was that it ignored completely the two most relevant dangers of the Internet to its audience: identity theft and online harassment/bullying/stalking. Neither of these activities is done by the type of people that are caricatured in the video; identity theft is carried out by hacked computers owned by the Russian Mob, and harassment is done by people you know.

So, to sum up: The video totally omits the biggest threats on the internet and insults the intelligence of the viewers with its treatment of the one danger of the internet it chooses to profile.

Also: every aspect of To Catch A Predator is creepy, from Chris Hansen on down.

After the early dismissal, all the teachers went through an evacuation preparedness session, which ended up being quite the waste of time and resources

Apparently the rest of these days are designed to work on inter subject collaboration. I managed to make myself useful in identifying a weirdness in the presentation, which we then cut out to smooth out the curriculum. We also had a good discussion, but my brain had to break at the end of the day and I put my foot in my mouth over a thermodynamics unit convention. Of course.

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