|retro Radio Shack|
The first part of our unit relied heavily on one book, The Watts Laboratory Library Experiments in Magnetism and Electricity. Later on we used Janice VanCleave's Electricity to add to our study. Both books are wonderful in that they explain what you will do, the results you should see, and the why behind the experiment.
This unit also became the platform for my first endeavor in teaching the boys how to take notes. At least one day each week, I would present material in lecture format. While I was speaking, I would discuss how they could know when to write something down in their notes. For example, when preparing to explain series and parallel circuits, I told them I was about to introduce them to two different kinds of circuits. I would help them decide how they might put that down on paper. Perhaps they would like to add a diagram, outline or list of examples of each kind of circuit. As the unit went on, they started developing their own style in the way they took notes. Earlier this week, I told them I would be putting together a test for the end of the unit. I explained that it would include all of the topics I had taught while they took notes. I showed them how they could study what they had written in preparation for the test. Tomorrow we will see how that preparation has paid off when they take their tests.
I tend not to give the boys many written exams. Learning has been more about discovery and discussion in most subjects. I believe that sometimes too much testing results in incorrect motives for learning. I don't want them to learn things only so that they can spew them back out on paper at the end of a unit and never think about them again. Things they have learned should become a part of who they are. But the rest of the world, including the part of their world that will include college education, involves testing. So I want to equip them for that future. Maybe by integrating note taking now, it will be a natural part of their learning process later in life, allowing them to put down on paper the things that are being added to their character.