Saturday, November 5, 2016

My magic wand

Teacher Tip Series

Magic has no place in a science classroom, at least not formally, but I talk about it anyway--stories of myth and magic and miracles. If your world is limited to reproducible natural events, you're missing a lot of the good stuff.

It's not that science excludes miracles--it's just that they are, well, uninteresting, at least from a scientist's point of view when she's wearing her sciency hat.

But I do have a magic wand. I taped a straightened out purple paper clip onto a glass rod. It's not much to  look like, but magic (like science) happens in dull objects when you start paying attention.

From How to Become a Magician, 1882, PD
Here's how it works (and it only works on test days)--each child gets one free answer on multiple choice questions. (Yes, it's possible to ask complex questions with a variety of complex choices--sheesh).

I wander around the room bored out of my skull with my wand a the class roster--when someone raises a hand, I walk up to the test and silently point to the answer with my wand. I record the question number on my roster (in case I somehow screw up--my wand is not a steady as it once was).

It's a great way for me to see which questions are giving my lambs the most grief, it encourages a little meta-analysis and game theory on their part, and kids get a tiny boost of their grades.

If you do this, make sure you deactivate your wand before the last few minutes of class. It can get chaotic.
And yes, I really do this

I'll include a photo of the wand when I remember to take one.

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