Through the Looking Glass

I posted previously about taking part in the 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathon, well the Raw Talent Exhibit took place this past Saturday night. This year the exhibit took place at a different location than previous exhibits, the Salt Building in Vancouver’s Olympic Village. While there was more space and better temperature regulation, the lighting was a little dim making it difficult to see the photos. The other odd thing was that the individual theme winners were already unveiled on one wall. I tried not too look until I saw my set but I couldn’t help but notice that none of my shots had won. I was a little disappointed, I thought at least one or two could have been in the running. My disappointment got worse when I finally worked my way down to my set and saw that one photo (theme 10: Float) was very underexposed and another (theme 11: Background Story) didn’t turn out at all. I wasn’t expecting much from these anyway as I was very rushed for time at the end of the marathon but it was a shock to see one not turn out at all.

I wandered around looking at the other marathoners work and eventually the time came for the unveiling of the overall winners. First was the runner-up and winner for best photo. Then came the runner-up for best series……and it was me! How had I even been considered for best series when two of my photos were so poor?¬†I was stunned but there it was a 24″x36″ print of theme 2: Through the Looking Glass mounted on aluminum.

IThe rest of my set and the other participants can be seen here.

The Silence is Killing Me

One thing that I was worried about when giving the students the freedom to work through the class at their own pace was having the class turn into chaos with students all over the place and having lots of different activities going on at once and not being able to properly meet all the students needs. However it is the exact opposite. The class is so quiet. There are times when I am walking around in complete silence and I wonder if I’ve removed myself too much from things. The students are all on task, watching videos, working on quiz questions, or working on practice problems. I guess I would prefer if they did more of the labs. Quite a few did the uniform motion lab during the first week but since then no one has tried the accelerated motion lab or the projectile motion lab. Perhaps they’ve decided that these are too much work for too little gain. Maybe if I made the labs worth more next semester? Maybe I need to emphasize that doing the labs can demonstrate mastery of the objectives. Maybe I need to have more of the investigation type activities be more than just the instructions. If each one was an “online text” activity where the student had to enter their observations and this could count towards mastery of objectives. Maybe things will change if I just wait.

Issues with Moodle Grades

When I set up the grade book on Moodle I created a Category for each standard. Then for each standard I will add the individual items used to assess that standard. Each category has a maximum grade of 3 and takes the highest grade from the individual items. The missions I intended to have a maximum score of 1 out of 3 and I thought I had set this up correctly as each question has a mark of 1. ¬†However I noticed that one student who has already decided to complete some of the mission quizzes (he’s taken physics 12 from me previously) was getting a score of 3 for category total.

After a lot of trial and error with different settings I think I finally have it correct. The issue was that although I had the questions on the quiz out of 1 mark the quiz itself was getting a grade of 100%. So when that 100% was added to the category it takes it be a maximum score and assigns a grade of 3 for the category.

In the grade book I had to set a multipier (0.3333) on each of the mission quizzes and this reduced the category total back down to the correct score of 1. However the student would then see a score of 33.33 for the quiz. Still not ideal. So I had to edit each quiz and set the maximum score to 3. This way when they complete the quiz they see their mark of 1 and the category total is also 1. It is still a bit confusing for the student because the quiz itself displays a mark of 1 and a grade of 3 but then in the grade book this gets scaled back down to a 1. At least it is calculating their final grade correctly now.


Last night I forgot how to access the lab report rubric I created. Moodle is a little odd in that it doesn’t show up when you click on the “grades” link. In case I forget again here’s how to find it:

  1. Turn editing on
  2. Click on ‘update’ for the lab activity
  3. Under ‘grades’ section grade should be set to Scale: Lab Reports and the grading method to Rubric
  4. On the left hand menu block scroll down to the Settings section
  5. Click on ‘Advanced Grading’
  6. You can now edit the rubric

I think I’ll have to go through and double check each of the lab activities to make sure they are set to use the rubric. I should also upload some sample labs from the test user and grade them to make sure the scale and rubric are working how I expect them to.

First Class

Last night was the first class. I set up in the lab and began creating accounts on the Moodle server for each student. The class list I was given had 14 students on it with their name and phone number. The username for each student was the first initial of their first name and their full last name. For the password I used their phone number. The Moodle server requires an email address to be entered and since I didn’t have this information I created placeholders ( and asked the students to sign and update both their password and email address. The only problem was the four students that showed up but were not on my class list.

When the students started arriving I opened up Angry Birds and started playing. I could see a few odd looks and after playing a few levels I started explaining the concept for the class. The student reaction was what I expected….mostly confusion. Their biggest concern, not surprisingly, was how the grading would work. One girl in particular couldn’t get her head around the standards based grading scheme. There were a few other concerns, mostly about how they should know if they are progressing fast enough through the class.

I think once we get through the first test they will feel more at ease with the process. On Wednesday I plan on having a sample test to show them how they will be structured. I also plan on showing the students how to use Tracker.

A Productive Day

Taking the day off from work yesterday turned out to be very productive. I managed to get nine videos made and now have all the content for the first five missions complete. Still to do before monday:

  • Create a new course syllabus to hand out to the students
  • Determine the best way to create accounts for the students

I’d like to make the syllabus as more of an advertisement for the game. On the back I will have a description of the grading scheme. I think explaining the game mechanics and grading scheme will probably take up most of the first night (after all the other administrative stuff is also taken care of).



With less than a week to go before my class starts panic is starting to set it.

While I think I have all of the activities (investigations, labs, quizzes) for the first six missions I only have the instruction videos for the first two missions complete.

I am going to be taking Friday off from my day job to try and develop a few more videos. I feel like if I can get the first six missions done I’ll at least be two months ahead of the students. It takes a lot longer than I thought to make each video. So far I haven’t been able to complete one on less than 4 attempts. It has taken a while to get used to using the writing tablet, something as simple as drawing a straight line causes me to have to start over sometimes. In some videos I’ve resorted to drawing the vector diagrams in PowerPoint, which to be honest is probably a better approach anyway.

I’ve created a google account for the class and a youtube channel with the videos. When a video is added to youtube the initial permissions can be one of Public, Unlisted or Private. Public means anyone can view the video. Unlisted means that the video doesn’t show up on searches but anyone with the link to it can view it. Private means that I authorize individuals to view it. At first I was going to go with Unlisted, but I have decided for now to have them Public. I have however turned off comments.