Thursday, April 08, 2004

Vacation Round-up

I remember reading an article in an animal behavior class about rewards and behavior. If the pigeons or mice or whatever (I'm a little weak at details) pressed the lever and food came out, they'd press the lever more. If they got a shock, they'd press the lever less. But if they pressed the lever and got food sometimes and a shock other times, they'd press the lever more often than in either of the other situations.* I am a hungry lab rat in the land of blogs. If a blogger posts every day, I stop by their blog pretty often. If they rarely blog, I stop by less frequently. But if they blog just a few times a week, with no pattern to their posting, I stop by all the freakin' time, hoping for a pellet, er, I mean a post.

*****

I really like what Scott says here, about teaching needing an intellectual foundation, and vacation often being the time when teachers build that foundation. True for me. I've been doing a bit of creative writing this vacation, something I haven't done for a long time.

*****

You can safely assume that you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.
-Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott writes in this great voice, compassionate and loving and accepting, and bitter and witty as all hell. She is comfortable with the side of herself that is jealous and snarky and mean-spirited, and at the same time, she seems like the kind of person who loves genuinely and openly. It doesn't hurt that she's a hippie mom who lives in and writes about one of my favorite places in the world, the Bay Area.

I just finished Blue Shoe, her novel about a newly-divorced mom struggling not to repeat the mistakes of her own troubled parents. It's not her best, but I enjoyed it. But if you're going to take my advice and read some Anne Lamott, please start with Bird by Bird or Travelling Mercies. The first is the funniest, most honest book about writing and being a writer that I've ever read. The second is a memoir of how Lamott hit bottom and - just when she most needed to - discovered a caring, hippie Christian church in the San Francisco Bay Area. The people she met there saved her, as much or more than Jesus did, and she is still a member of that church, as far as I know. A similarly caring church shows up in Blue Shoe.

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Whoa! There are less than 11 weeks of school left! If you take out holidays, testing days, and clerical half-days, that's less than 50 days. And we have soooo much left to do....

Here's what I've scheduled:

April, 2 1/2 weeks on solutions, acids & bases, chemical reactions.
May, 4 weeks on motion, forces, and energy.
June, split between machines and waves (sound, light).

Hindsight is 20:20, right? Well, looking back on the year, I messed up the pacing big-time. We got mired in electricity, bogged down in atomic theory, and then I had no idea how to approach chemistry and forces and motion. With Earth Science and Life Science, I know what to put before what... I don't have the same perspective on these topics in Physical Science. Luckily, we've hired someone for next year who will be passionate about it. On the other hand, I've learned so much from teaching it this year, I think I could do much better if I taught it again. Not least because I've finally got a copy of the Region's Science Syllabus, which is incredibly helpful, puts everything in order, suggests resources, pacing, performance tasks, and yet leaves a lot of room to do things "my way." My first years teaching Earth & Life Science were even more jumbled than this year's Physical Science, so I think there's a learning curve.

*****

RadioParadise is really good today!

Radio angst for liberals: Who will stick with NPR? Who will switch to AirAmerica? Who will listen to both? The more liberal radio, the better, for both stations and for all of us. But you can only listen to one station at a time........

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*Okay, okay, I'm sure some of this is mixed up... it was 6 or more years ago, so if you know the studies I'm talking about, please correct me!

Well, here's what I found on my own:
Variable ratio- reinforcement is given after a number of responses, but that number varies from one reinforcement to the next. A rat might be reinforced after ten times of hitting the lever and the next time it may be reinforced for the thirtieth time it hits the lever. Slot machines are based on a variable ratio schedule. It takes slightly longer to condition, but takes a long time to extinguish.

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