January 25, 2011

P.R. campaign for the classroom?

I came across the following post by Robert Talbert:

The inverted classroom and student self-image | Casting Out Nines

It's interesting stuff. I experimented a bit with using videos last year. Actually, I used all videos in Fall 2009 and no lecturing in the intro physics class I taught. I think there was a large chunk that didn't buy into the system. I kept using my system last winter, but I abandoned that approach last Fall. This quarter, I've reintroduced the videos, but I'm using more of a hybrid approach to class: videos posted before class starts and some mini-lectures during class.

What sticks out with me from Robert's post was the following:

"Let’s just say that you had better not use the inverted classroom model if you aren’t prepared to put out a constant P.R. effort to convince students of the positive benefits of the model and constantly to assuage student concerns."
He may be on to something here. Last Winter quarter I posted a video to the class website of Eric Mazur explaining his peer instruction method to other physics instructors. I told the class they should check it out if they would like to know more about why our class works the way it does. Exactly one student watched even a part of the video. This year, I've posted a few links to the website, but I'm not sure how many students have checked it out.

I'm agreeing with Robert on his message about the "P.R. effort" but I'm not sure about the best way to go about it.

January 24, 2011

"Spot of Color"

As a part of my Mostly365 challenge, I want to periodically complete some of the weekly assignments that some photography/gadget/news websites often have.

This is my entry for the "Spot of Color" assignment from Digital Photography School assignment. I set up some beads on the cabinets in the basement and played with my flash until I got something I liked.

I've been trying to learn to control the focus on my camera so that I can play with the depth of field a bit. I'm not 100% satisfied with how this came out, but I'm getting better. Plus, I used a tripod for the camera, which is something I'm usually too lazy to set up.

January 23, 2011

It was good while it lasted

Farewell, 2010 Bears. We hardly knew how good you were until you made it into the playoffs.

January 22, 2011


Today's photo is not a photo I took today, or a photo I took at all. Although, it is a photo I've been trying to photoshop a bit to improve the contrast, if at all possible. I'm not sure if there's any hope for that. Maybe if I had the negative of it.

Anyway, the photo is of me and a pair of characters which will be INSTANTLY recognizable to anyone who grew up in Iowa in the 70's and 80's. Duane Ellet and Floppy were icons to kids of all ages in Iowa when I was growing up. Getting to meet Floppy and tell him a joke was absolutely the highlight of a whole year. I got to meet Floppy twice: once at the State Fair and another time at a town festival. This photo is from the town festival. There was another time that I toured the WHO TV studio's for a school field trip, but Floppy was not there when we went on the Floppy Show set.

If you miss Floppy (like all Iowans my age do) you can see some clips which have been posted on YouTube.

January 20, 2011

Lost hours

Tonight I played a "quick" game of Civilization. Only 3 hours of my life were lost. I think this should hold me for the next few weeks.

January 19, 2011

January 17, 2011


This is what our living room has looked like for the past three weeks. Renae put tape on the sides of the couch, ottoman, and all the dining room chairs. She also covered all the couch and ottoman with towels and blankets. So far, the cats have been pretty good about not scratching the exposed parts of the furniture. We're planning to slowly remove the towels and tape over the next few weeks. Since they have plenty of scratching posts we're crossing our fingers that they will leave the furniture alone.

January 16, 2011

Before and After

My small workshop in the basement has been pretty cluttered ever since we've moved in. It's still pretty cluttered, but today it got a little better.

January 15, 2011

Top Shelf

I get a new carving every year from my grandfather. Now that we have a house, I've started to display them on the top shelf in my room. I was trying to capture all of them as displayed in one shot, but it wasn't working out. What I did (re)learn about my camera was that turning down the flash power made getting a reasonable exposure easier.

January 10, 2011


This is for a class discussion on latent heat of vaporization.

January 09, 2011

Cats near each other

Trying to use natural light. Not great results. But, hey, cats!

January 04, 2011

Cat sleeps on litterbox box

This cat has multiple soft places to lounge which were purchased specifically for her. She prefers the cardboard the litter box came in.