A Teacher's Day

The day in the life of an inner city large urban school district teacher after the high stakes testing ends and there is still three more months left before summer vacation.

Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

I have taught school for over thirty years always in the inner city and for the most part always upper grade students. I have two children and I have been married for twenty years.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Thunderstorm Lesson for my Classes

I'm back in school--getting my science endorsement--and this is one of the things I thought I read about (and so I tried it with my classes) when our professor asked us to do some reading:

A letter to the professor:

We didn’t cover this in class, but I missed the first meeting and I thought we needed to read a lot of the stuff left on the eboard. One of them was computing how far away the storm was. So the next day—and sometimes nature is on our side (a rare thing for teachers where the Peter Principle rules) we watched for a flash of lightning and then timed how long before we heard the thunder. (Guess I jinxed us, cause after that winter really came on strong.)

So if the speed of sound is given at 331.4 meters per second, we can figure out how far away the storm is. I told them a few examples from my life when I beat the rain by calculating the distance. Then we did some problems and nature helped out a few times. Thank you, nature.

You’re walking home in your best Sunday clothes when suddenly it starts to get seriously cloudy and then you see the first flash of lightning. You count how long it takes for the thunder: one Mississippi two Mississippi three Mississippi four Mississippi. Then you start to run. Why?

We discussed the answer first: I multiplied four by the speed of sound and I got the distance. Or: I added the distance the speed of sound travels in four seconds and then I knew when the storm would hit. Or: I’m lost. Or: How did you get four? Or: We were talking about something else. Can you go over it again?

Three examples later, the entire class could solve the problem.

So I made it harder. I brought in the fact that the speed of sound travels at a different rate of speed depending on the temperature.

And we did the entire process again. And this time they paid attention. For the most part.


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