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Burk, John 10-11 Goals 2

Burk, John 10-11 Goals 2

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Published by: occam98 on Sep 11, 2010
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John Burk 
Physics Teacher, Assistant Debate Coach, Physics PLT Facilitator2010-11
Lifelong learners
How do you stay current with evolving teaching strategies and methodologies,model reflective practices, and seek opportunities to grow in your content areaand/or grade level? 
Last year, I wrote that I read voraciously and built a strong network with physicsteachers at Westminster and at other schools. I would say I have increased these twothings tremendously in the past year, I now regularly read the blogs of over a dozenmath and science teachers, as well as many other blogs about science, technology andother topics. Since the creation of the Atlanta Metro Physics Teacher Network, I metmany new colleagues in the Atlanta area, and through twitter and the teaching blogI’m now keeping, am in touch with more than a dozen physics teachers around thenation. My work with colleagues at Georgia Tech has also developed into a grantproposal for a research project to explore new ways of teaching mechanics to physicsstudents in high school and college using computer modeling.2.
Describe an experiment that demonstrates your willingness to take risks and openness to engage new ideas.
I think I’m doing this on an almost constant basis, since I am always finding newideas through my contacts with other physics teachers and blogs about teaching andscience. It’s rare that I go a single week without implementing something new in oneof my classes.Three particular new ideas I am working on this year are:a.
Brain Based Research Program for High School Students
: Anna Moore and I areworking to develop a research program that will use high school students toconduct psychology experiments on students in the elementary school to test how various forms of praise affect risk taking and academic performance. We hopethat this project will captivate some of our ninth grade students, who are very passionate about science, but not yet able to work in a college lab. We plan to usethis project to take them all the way through the experimental process: developingand writing a proposal, developing protocols, evaluating data, and presentingtheir findings.b.
Student Stress reduction:
I discovered the trailer to the film
Race to Nowhere
,which describes the overstressed lives of high school students who are jockeyingfor admission to the most competitive colleges with little sense of purpose orenjoyment in their work. I am now working with Jim Justice and other membersof the faculty to raise discussions around this issue, possibly hold a screening of the film with the director here on campus, and design follow up conversations toaddress the issues raised by the film.
Innovation Incubator 
: related to my interest in getting students to focus on leadinginnovative lives of reduced stress and greater engagement, I am working oncreating an innovation incubator, which would be an organization designed helpstudents identify and explore their deep interests, and then develop andimplement projects based on these interests that are innovative and have a lastingimpact on the student and community.3.
How do you collaborate with students and colleagues to further knowledge and understanding? 
I think the Brain Based Learning Research Program I am starting with Anna Morewill be a fantastic way to collaborate with students, as they will become ourresearch partners in this project, and I am excited by the new discoveries we willmake together.Another way I collaborate with students is the website I’ve created for my classes.Last year, I simply kept a blog for my classes, this year, I’ve set up a full-blownlearning network, which features a common class blog, but also gives studentstheir own individual blog. The primary goal of this blog is to get my studentsexploring science outside the classroom, by trying challenge problem, writingabout topics that interest them, and generally keeping our discussions goingoutside the normal classroom hours (Student participation in the blog does notfactor into their grades at all). So far, the network is a pretty big hit with about twodozen posts and almost 100 comments so far, students have found everythingfrom fascinating plant research that suggest plants might be able to recognize theirkin, to a recent discovery that a ringworm shares a brain structure very similar tohumans.Finally, I collaborate with faculty at Westminster and beyond in many multifaceted ways. I’m the facilitator of our PLT, which is launching this week,and has begun some good conversations among the physics teachers about whatwe see as essential understandings for our courses. I am constantly meetingindividually with other teachers in physics to share ideas, everything from helpinga colleague to set up the computer to developing a new approach to teachingpendulums. I have also begun to establish a strong dialogue with other membersof our department, including a couple with whom I have significant pedagogicaldifferences, which has led to a number of thought provoking conversations. OurMetro Physics Teacher Network is now more than 40 members strong, meetsmonthly, and many useful collaborations have grown out of this, including hiresfor both of my paternity leave subs, and a research collaboration with faculty atGeorgia Tech.
Master Teacher Reflection
I continue to be fascinated by Dweck’s
research and the role that metacognitionhas to play in my classroom. I think I am now well on my way to re-orienting all of my teaching practices and curriculum so that it both teaches and encourages students todevelops a growth mindset regarding their intellectual ability. This year, I am developinga more complete metacognition curriculum consisting of selected readings and follow upquestions on webassign. It is my hope that in so doing, these ideas will have a morelasting impact on my students.In addition, I have now fully turned over grading in my classroom to encouraging thegrowth mindset. Homework is for practice only; it is assigned, and I give feedback, but itdoes not factor into a student’s grade. Grades are based solely on the understanding astudent demonstrates, and they can attempt to demonstrate understanding in a variety of way and are given a near-unlimited number of attempts to do so, with only the mostrecent attempt to demonstrate understanding counting toward that student’s grade.
Community Member
I think I’ve already described in detail the many ways in which I collaborated withcolleagues last year. I think I am trying to do this even more by attendingmeetings of the Campus Corps, and working with Jim and Francesto discuss issues of student stress and intellectual engagement.2.
I am continuing to coach the novice debate team this year. With a year under my belt I feel much more confident to instruct the novice debaters, and think that Iwill begin to take more of the day-to-day responsibility for instructing the novicedebate team.
Passion for learning new ideas and engaging students by doing science.
Desire to teach students a love of learning that empowers them to make a positivedifference in the world right away.
Ability to connect ideas across disciplines and use technology to accomplish my goals.
Maintaining my energy level and all of these projects with the impending birth of a baby daughter in October.

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