Back in the saddle again …

One of my buddies remarked that he hadn’t seen a post from me in ages, so he feared the worst and emailed me. In fact, I have been so preoccupied with a recent move and the start of the school year, that blogging was pushed to the back burner. Now that things have settled down a little, I can get back to writing here.

The move was from an apartment to a small house — actually a real log cabin built an indeterminate number of years ago — not far away. I live within a 20-minute drive of downtown Lou-a-vul near a county park and in a fairly bucolic setting. Lest you imagine the log cabin means chopping wood and hauling water from the well, this home has all the modern comforts, including satellite TV. And a garage.

Having a garage is a BIG THING for me. The last time I could park my car in a garage was  early 1977, before my parents moved from the house I grew up in to a smaller one. While I have had garages available to me since then, they were always occupied to the extent that I could not get my daily driver inside. So, 30 years hence, I can actually get in and out of my car without getting wet. For me, that was well worth the move.

Prior to the start of school, I had to order and install eight new desktop systems and a new file server (running Windows Server 2003 R2, for you geeks out there). The new server is replacing a five-year-old unit, so the transition must be done carefully. W2K3 does some things differently than Server 2000, so the admin has to prep the domain for the new server, etc., etc., or the system might break and the users might get upset. So I took my time with the installation and have successfully migrated most of the old server’s functions over to the new one. I hope to blog on that migration later on.
Although I was supposed to teach only three classes this year, to permit me more time as a Tech Coordinator, scheduling and enrollments necessitated opening up another section of the Physics First course.  The addition suited me fine as a teacher, since I end up with three sections with fewer than 13 kids instead of two huge sections of 18-19 each. (Public school teachers, eat your hearts out.) I am also teaching AP Physics – C, so I teach both ends of the high school physics spectrum.

Physics First, for those unacquainted with the idea, is the introductory science course for ninth graders at St. Francis High School. We decided to get on this new science bandwagon to start high school students with a conceptual physics course, and then move them through chemistry and biology in that order in succeeding years. The idea is that bio depends on chem, which in turn depends on physics, so it’s more logical to start with the foundation and work from there. Many other schools and school districts are experimenting with this idea, championed by Nobel laureate Leon Lederman, as a way to improve scientific literacy and incidentally boost the percentage of students taking physics in high school.

In between installing computers and putting out the usual IT brushfires, I have to prep for my classes. Needless to say, teachers put a lot of energy into those first few days of school to “hook” their students into their subjects. Or at least I do. So the blogging fell by the wayside. Besides, I think I needed a vacation from the activity, to freshen my perspective.

I’ll be updating the Katherine Phillips situation fairly soon, blogging on teaching physics, and commenting on other topics in the next few weeks. After several weeks away, I have a lot of writing to get out my system!

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