Saturday, July 21, 2012

Electric Circuit Design Pages

Last year I created worksheets my kids could use to draw out their electric circuit designs. I had to have some tangible (on paper) method of evaluating every student separately.

Normally, they work in pairs in my lab on computerized simulators to create their circuits. Most students take great pleasure in building circuits that cause components to explode. Haha. And when their lamps DO go out in a burst of overpowered electricity, they usually give me that guilty / scared look, like I'm going to punish them for completely destroying a component that only existed in virtual reality anyway.

It's kinda fun to mess with them sometimes, and tell the new kids in a stern voice, "You're gonna have to pay for that!" just to see how long it takes them to realize I'm kidding and that's not possible anyway. Lol. Gotcha!

My design pages give them the opportunity to plan circuits in schematic format, and the don't have to worry about drawing accurate representations of the components they'll be using.

Photoshop allowed me to put together a very polished and official-looking design page. A black and white copier removes all of the jazzy colors anyway, so I created it in greyscale.

This page was yet another item the software company didn't think to create and provide for their users. I wonder if they ever even ask their customers for requests or suggestions.

No training manuals, no useful reproduceables, workbook questions that are completely unclear, and the most confusing ordering system I've seen yet. Problem steps are numbered. Mixed within the steps are the questions. Guess what? They're numbered too! And every section of the assignment starts over with number one! It doesn't take a genius to see that they could have used letters for those problem steps. And if they used continuous numbering for the whole assignment, making corrections and finding your place again would be much simpler.

But... Obviously, it was an engineer who did the numbering and phrased the questions, and not with middle school kids in mind. I already know that this program was designed for the high school and vocational school levels. And my middle schoolers have to think on that level. Nearly every one rises to the challenge. When they are really struggling, I tell them the truth and remind them that it is proof of how capable and intelligent they are.

My class is NOT an easy exploratory class. People assume that it must be. After all, it's not a REAL class. Lol. And I'm not a REAL teacher. Just ask the kids! Heck, ask their other teachers. They regard me as a second class citizen. Whatever. Must be kinda hard to see in the darkness, with your head shoved up your.... Oh, sorry. :) I got a little carried away in my own disrespectfulness. I used to be a REAL teacher. I can honestly say that they don't understand how tough these classes can be to teach. It's truly a different world. I like it. :)

I didn't make the class difficult. I don't want it to be a source of stress for the kids. I don't have a choice in the matter. I can't rewrite the software and I can't change the reading level.

What I do is make this high level stuff accessible to them. I teach them why it is important and how to work effectively. I also let them correct their work for a higher grade. :D There are a lot of As in my class and they had to WORK to get them. :). I've had students tell me they made their first A ever at that school in my class. Yay! So then I tell them they can make As in other classes if they will just try.

Because of local school system rivalries, I've heard people running down our school because they believe flat-out lies they've been told. We have a great school with great kids and great teachers. We have a great facility with a LOT of technology that is actually utilized all of the time. We get lots of training in all the new teaching trends. But if two kids get into a tussle in the cafeteria in the morning, by the next day, local people who put their kids in the other school system are bad mouthing our school over the gang fight and riot that sent 30 people to the hospital at our school!

Really? We don't have such things going on. Lol In general, our kids are very well-behaved and hard working. It's okay - we hear the same tales about the other school system too. And I hear that my class's "other" counterpart is used for just playing computer games. So if I'm to believe that, my kids are actively learning and practicing engineering concepts, and theirs are playing Internet games.

Or perhaps I was misinformed. But it was a student who told me that. He had no reason to lie about it, either. We're family.

The circuit design page is another of those pages I need to remember to make many copies of, along with the correction sheets they use on a daily basis. I know I go through a couple thousand of those every year and sometimes it is a battle to keep the supply in line with demand, when kids really get into the groove of steadily working in my class.

Yes, I'm writing about it so I will remember to do it. :D My school year is always a lot easier when I can copy the entire year's papers off before it even starts. With some papers I can just do that with, because I know that not only do I use them every year, I use them four times a year, when I get new students.

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