My last-minute #nurture1314 post :-)

Felix Felicis
Felix Felicis – also called “Liquid Luck”, is a magical potion that makes the drinker lucky for a period of time, during which everything they attempt will be successful.
Image from Rebekah Hughes via Flickr

This is my contribution to #Nurture1314 initiated by @ChocoTzar and pushed forward by @rlj1981 – it’s been a very busy, exciting and fast paced year and I’ve really enjoyed reflecting on it.

13 reflections from the past year and 14 to look forward to (in no particular order).

13 things from 2013:

  1. Dresden. We changed flats and we now live in the best city of the world: Dresden. A very important lesson: changing flats during the hottest days of the summer with a girlfriend pregnant at 6 month is NOT recommendable.

    Dresden, GER 2013

  2. Father. I became father of a little girl. As it is my first time, everyday is still a little adventure and she already knows perfectly how to twist me around her little finger.
  3. University. I finished my PhD about the use of IWB in physics. A very good feeling to close that chapter. 


  4. School. I started to work at school to complete my “Referendariat” (kind of 2 year practical period) and become a fully qualified teacher by summer 2015. 

    2013-06-20 09.55.19

  5. TeachMeet. It was the first time for me presenting some stuff at a TeachMeet – and not any TM, it was at BETT 2013 in front of a lot of teachers. This was definitely a highlight for me. 


  6. #ukedchat. Engaging with #ukedchat and presenting the first time at TeachTweet to show that I’m not just “taking ideas” but also can give something. 


  7. GDrive. Starting to experiment with student feedback using Google Drive forms – very easy and with surprising results. Helpful for reflecting on my teaching and astonishing to see how my students perceive their lessons with me. 
  8. Blogging. I wrote 17 posts in my blog this year, often with help from my friends who offer their time to correct the biggest mistakes.
  9. Twitter. It’s my second year on Twitter and I’m preferring it to Facebook. One important lesson was followers are NOT (automatically) your friends, nor does following mean that you agree or even support the message of the person you follow.
  10. Camera. I really love my Casio Exilim ZR 400, not only because it’s able to capture high-speed-videos – it also makes pretty good pictures. It has become a constant companion.CIMG0390
  11. High-Speed-Videos. They are cool, they are fascinating and they could be used in the science classroom. My posts about how to make them generated some positive reactions and I hope some readers will try it themselves.
  12. #EDchatDE. This hashtag is the German equivalent of #ukedchat with a fast growing community of German teachers. Answers are provided in English and German – so everybody is welcome to participate! It takes place weekly on Tuesday between 20.00 and 21.00 (German time, 19.00 till 20.00 UK time), you can find more details here.
  13. Sharing. I started sharing my materials via Flickr, this Blog and other resources (like Dropbox). I benefit from a lot of people who share their ideas on their Blogs or on Twitter, so I think it was just fair to give something back – even it is as little as what I can offer.

14 things I’d like to do or learn in 2014:

  1. PhD. Get my PhD published as a book to get the official doctoral certificate. Should be done by end of January at the latest.
  2. Student Feedback Systems. Write an article about the use of student feedback systems for a German physics education journal. I will also write about the usage of these in my own lessons in the second state exam thesis.
  3. Model Boats. Finish my biggest model ship and use some time to drive the two finished ones on the lake.

    2013-01-17 18.04.07

  4. Learning Platform. Introducing a learning platform to my school. The internal network to share material is fine, but there are more things I’d like to do!
  5. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). Persuading our school leadership team that the use of smartphones in physics should be allowed – and if not, doing it anyway.
  6. Blogging. Keep on blogging. But definitely reduce the requests for help. One reflective post per week would be great.
  7. Arduino. I had already a first go on Arduino but I’d like to explore more possibilities – at the moment this kit is just lying around.2013-01-17 21.13.55
  8. Responsibility. Stop trying to feel responsible for everybody and everything.
  9. Focus. I’m interested in a broad spectrum of topics, but I need to force myself to focus on fewer things. Otherwise I’ll go crazy in 2014 🙂
  10. Time Management. Optimise my time management, especially in free hours at school. The goal is that I don’t take too much work home and can enjoy my little family.
  11. Latex. I used Latex to write my PhD and it doesn’t just look much more professional, the writing is a bit like coding.
  12. Friends. Due to the very exiting 2013 we didn’t have much time to meet our friends, this is something I’d like to work on in 2014.
  13. Spending less time with my smartphone. It’s tempting to check mails, read the news or check some apps. I’d like to use these little moments of spare time to interact with the people around me – this is a much better way of investing my time. And it’s a lot more polite.
  14. Reduce moaning. During the last few months, I spent a lot of time moaning about different things, mostly related to our educational system and the bureaucracy or stupidity within. It’s not worth the time.

I’d like to thank Dughall and Emma, who generously offered their time to proofread this last-minute post. All left mistakes are my fault 🙂

So this is my list with 13 things I think I did well in 2013 and 14 I would like to do during 2014. I’m curious to read your #nurture1314 list 🙂

Connecting Smart Notebook 11 with Dropbox

If you’re using the the Smart Notebook Software you are surly aware of the possibility to organise your content in the Gallery. If you’d like to share objects you created you can use the Smart Exchange platform – but be honest: How often are you doing this?

A few days ago I discovered a nice and easy way to share your gallery with other people. The biggest advantage: Set up once, it will automatically synchronize the gallery between all the people using it – without the need to upload/download something manually.

What you need to do:

  1. Create a folder in your Dropbox where all the files will be stored, like “Gallerie” in my case.
  2. Connect your Smart Notebook Software with Dropbox. Open the galleries tab, click the toolbox and choose “Connect to Team Content”. Chose the folder you created in step 1.!smart_notebook_1smart_notebook_2
  3. Reorganize your gallery, if needed. For example, I decided to drag all personal created content in the shared gallery while the “standard” content, coming with the software, stays where it was.smart_notebook_3
  4. Share your Dropbox folder with other persons or simple use it as a backup, everywhere and every time available. Another person (or yourself, if you use more than one PC) just need to open Smart Notebook and add team content the same way.

I think this could be very useful for this scenarios:

  • Using a gallery collaborative between different teachers and/or schools
  • Backup and everywhere available access to the gallery if needed.

Unterrichtsfeedback – ein Experiment

Veritaserum – Ein Zaubertrank der einen dazu zwingt die Wahrheit zu sagen …
Image: Gretchen P. (Flickr)

Nach den ersten beiden Unterrichtsbesuchen (siehe Teil I und Teil II) blieb teilweise etwas Ratlosigkeit und die Erkenntnis, dass es noch viele Baustellen gibt.

Was mich jedoch irgendwie am meisten wurmte war die Tatsache, dass die Protagonisten die mich zweifellos am öftesten sehen und beurteilen können bisher keine Möglichkeit erhalten haben ihre Einschätzung und Kritik loszuwerden – meine Schüler.

Also was tun? Nach kurzem googeln fand ich zwei Ansätze für kurze Fragebögen die zum Unterrichtsfeedback genutzt werden können (siehe hier und hier). Was mich an Fragebögen jedoch stört: Wie kritisch und ehrlich wird so ein Fragebogen ausgefüllt, wenn die Mentorin und ich anwesend sind und einem der Banknachbar im Nacken sitzt? Da die Schrift leicht identifiziert werden kann, ist eine Anonymität auch nicht wirklich gegeben.

Die Lösung erschien relativ simpel: Mein schulischer Google-Account bietet die Möglichkeit über GDrive sogenannte “Formulare”, im Prinzip einen Online-Fragebogen, zu gestalten und allen Schülern zugänglich zu machen. Die Vorteile liegen auf der Hand:

  • Die Schüler können ihn freiwillig, allein und bei freier Zeiteinteilung daheim ausfüllen
  • Kein Druck oder Beobachtung
  • Anonymität

Also habe ich am Freitag in einer Freistunde schnell einen kleinen Fragebogen gestrickt und diesen den Schülern zur Verfügung gestellt, freiwillig und völlig anonym. Sie waren offensichtlich etwas verblüfft. Die ersten Antworten sind inzwischen eingetroffen – und die machen neugierig auf mehr!

Ein Demo-Formular findet ihr hier, das Passwort lautet “Twitter”.

Fortsetzung folgt.

I am a teacher, not an actor.

My teacher is NOT an actor.
Created with

A few weeks have been gone since my last reflective post, but after yesterdays seminar I recognized for myself: enough is enough. I need to write about the last days and weeks.

After one month of parental leave with my better half and our newborn daughter I started to teach again. After three weeks I can state so far:

  • To cope with less sleep and less time to prepare lessons is not easy but manageable.
  • “Leading” or driving the lesson forward is working better every time.
  • I definitely need to work on my handwriting and structure on the blackboard – I’m pretty spoiled using IWBs and need to get “back to the roots”.

And I need to confess that every Thursday, the day I’m not in the school and at the state seminar, I’m leaving the building with self-doubts and the uncertainty if the job is the right one for me. The discussion yesterday was about the role of a teacher and raised a lot of questions:

  • Do you play a “role” in front of the class? If yes, what does this imply for me? Does it mean I’m not allowed to show emotions and uncertainty (especially as a beginner) in front of the class?
  • We were asked how we see ourself in the classroom. To be honest, I haven’t thought about how my mentors or pupils have seen me – I was to much bothered to plan and hold my lessons. So I followed the discussion and they came up with some conclusions like:
    • The teacher is a “manipulator” – all the time. Although their definition of manipulation wasn’t only in the “evil” sense it sounds scary to me.
    • Form a asynchronism in responsibility they conclude the absolute necessity of a strict hierarchy in the classroom.
    • As a teacher you do not show uncertainty – never. The teacher is right and the highest authority at all times.
    • The teacher is a service provider for the students, but they limit this because they state the teacher knows what’s best for the pupils.
    • They want to educate their pupils to active, engaged and responsible citizens but they decline real participation in decision making.
    • They state that teachers need a certain personality. That leads me to three questions: What kind of personality is that? Why did nobody tested us before we do the job? Do I have the necessary personality?

I can’t bring all these statements into a coherent picture, neither do I agree with most of them. Two facts cooled down my emotions:

  • My two mentors didn’t say that I’m not suitable for the job.
  • Before I don’t have the chance to see the people who made this statements in front of their classes (and don’t forget they are beginners like me!) I can’t believe that their are living what they are saying.

If you’d like to leave a comment about how you see the role of a teacher and the personality they need to have I would be very happy.

My first weeks at school

It All Ends Here
My school maybe doesn’t look like Hogwarts – but this doesn’t lessen my excitement during the first weeks.
Image credits: Brett Kiger via Flickr

After my first weeks at school my head feels like exploding and it’s definitely time to use this Blog as intended – my personal “pensieve“, a reflective tool.

What I learnt about myself:

  • Asking a “good” question is much more difficult then expected. That’s definitely something I need to work on.
  • Another point to improve is my ability to “drive” the lesson forward.

What worked well:

  • The fact that I’m very familiar using IWB was very helpful, because I could concentrate on all the other things you need consider planning your first lessons.
  • I have two very experienced mentors, who are really supportive and made me feel comfortable in my new environment.

What I didn’t expect:

  • As far as I can see only a handful teachers out of 65 are using Facebook and I am the only one (so far) using Twitter.
  • The majority of teachers are keen to improve their work with IWB – the pure fact that they are installed just in so few rooms is thwarting them.
  • We actually have no budget at all to buy ICT or equipment for our physics laboratory. There’s no option then to buy stuff from your own money or improvise if possible. Everyone is looking for possibilities to get equipment for free, e.g. from closed schools. It actually feels like teachers need to dumpster diving – not the way it should be.

The change from university to school needs getting used to. At university I had a lot of freedom to try different things, a big range of ICT and small group of students. In school I have to follow the curriculum, the range of tools is limited (no Learning Management System, not much IWB, …) and there are often more then 25 students in one class – quite a difference.

I am not sure if I should use this Blog further to reflect my experiences at school or not. How do you manage the thin line between reflecting your own experiences and not to break official secrets or to annoy the persons you work with? Is a Blog really the right tool for that? Please share your experience (or thoughts) with me!

Basic physic – resources for Interactive Whiteboards | Grundlegende Physik-Ressourcen für Interaktive Tafeln

The Standard Book of Spells – another basic resource you may need in class 😉
Image Craig Grobler via Flickr

My colleague René (he’s new to Twitter so please follow him!) and I decided to make some basic material we used at our teacher trainings accessible.

They are all created under a Creative Commons License and can be used in the classroom, edited, shared or whatever you like to do with it. The only limitation is that the material is not allowed to be used in a commercial way! In the following sections you’ll get a quick overview and were to find these materials.

Mein Kollege René (neu angemeldet auf Twitter – bitte unbedingt folgen!) und ich haben uns entschieden das Material, dass wir  in Lehrerfortbildungen nutzen, zugänglich zu machen.

All diese Materialen sind unter der Creative Common Lizenz erstellt und können im Unterricht benutzt, bearbeitet und geteilt werden. Die einzige Einschränkung ist, dass dieses Material nicht kommerziell genutzt werden darf. In den folgenden Abschnitten gibt es einen kurzen Einblick in diese Materialien und wo diese zu finden sind!

Slow motion and time lapse videos

We started to create slow motion videos to demonstrate simple but fascinating (at least to us ;-)) effects. Therefore I created a Youtube channel where you can find the videos we uploaded already and new videos will appear as soon as possible.

You can find the channel here and further posts about slow motion videos (and how to make them) here, here and here.

Wir haben begonnen Slow Motion Videos aufzunehmen um einfache aber faszinierende Effekte (zumindest für uns ;-)) zu veranschaulichen. Dazu habe ich einen Youtube-Kanal eingerichtet, wo alle bisher erstellten Videos zu finden sind und neue Videos demnächst erscheinen.

Der Kanal ist hier zu finden, weitere Posts über Slow Motion Videos (und wie man sie erstellt) finden sich hier, hier und hier.

Wiring symbols

To draw a circuit diagram within a software for IWBs can be time consuming so we decided to make a collection of the most needed wiring symbols. They are all 80 x 80 pixels large and have a transparent background. You can download them as/for:

Einen Schaltplan mit der Software für interaktive Tafeln zu zeichnen kann sehr zeitaufwendig sein, deshalb haben wir uns entschlossen eine Sammlung der gebräuchlichsten Schaltzeichen anzufertigen. Diese sind alle 80 x 80 Pixel groß und haben einen transparenten Hintergrund. Man kann sie herunterladen als/für:

Light bulb

Pictures of physical experiments (or parts oft it)

It wasn’t easy for us to find adequate and free-to-use material for physics lessons. So we decided to capture and adapt (transparent background) a lot of different parts and experiments from our laboratory. You can download them as/for:

Es war nicht einfach für uns adäquate und kostenfreie Abbildungen für den Physikunterricht zu finden. Also haben wir eine Menge unterschiedlicher Teile und Experimente aus dem Physiklabor aufgenommen und bearbeitet (ausgeschnitten, transparenter Hintergrund). Man kann diese herunterladen als/für:

Experimentiergerät Generator 1
Electric generator

If you’d like to help translating the correct names for symbols or parts of the experiments we would share the original files via Dropbox or somtheing else! Every feedback or comment is welcome!

Wenn du helfen möchtest die korrekten Bezeichnungen für Schaltsymbole oder Teile der Experimente zu übersetzen, würden wir gern die Originaldateien per Dropbox o.ä. teilen! Jedes Feedback oder Kommentar ist willkommen!

The fascination of slow motion videos | Die Faszination von Zeitlupenaufnahmen

Squeezed tennis ball captured with a low cost high speed camera with 1000 frames per second.

Not only since my presentation at the TeachMeet at the BETT Show I am fascinated by slow motion videos. As described before, it is quite easy and not very expensive to produce your own video with some digital cameras.

They fascinate me because:

  • very simple thinks, like a falling slinky or a tennis ball, get a new and spectacular perspective
  • they allow it to make phenomenons accessible for science lessons which are normally not observable

Nicht erst seit meiner Präsentation auf dem TeachMeet der BETT Show bin ich fasziniert von Slow Motion Videos. Wie bereits beschrieben, ist es relativ einfach und nicht besonders teuer diese Videos mit bestimmten Digitalkameras selbst zu produzieren.

Sie faszinieren mich, weil sie:

  • sehr einfache Dinge, wie ein fallender “Slinky” oder ein Tennisball, eine neue und spektakuläre Perspektive erhalten
  • es ermöglichen Phänomene für den (Physik-)Unterricht aufzubereiten, die man sonst nicht ohne weiteres direkt beobachten kann

I’d like to “promote” the first four very simple videos I produced together with my colleagues René and Göran:
Ich möchte etwas “Werbung” für die ersten vier, sehr einfachen Videos machen, die ich gemeinsam mit meinen Kollegen René und Göran aufgenommen habe:

UPDATE: Bursting water balloon | Platzende Waserbombe

1.  Elastic deformation of a tennis ball | Elastische Verformung eines Tennisballs

2. Oscillating Neon tube (50 times per second) | Oszillation einer Neonröhre (50 mal pro Sekunde)

3. Pneumatic Firelighter | Pneumatisches Feuerzeug

4. Slinky Drop

All these videos are under the CC-licences on Youtube so that they can be used for lessons without any restrictions if the author is named!

Alle Videos sind unter einer CC-Lizenz und dürfen bei Namensnennung ohne Einschränkungen im Unterricht genutzt werden!  

Is there something you like to see in slow motion? I would be happy about some ideas that would be useful for science lessons.

Gibt es etwas, dass Du gern in Zeitlupe sehen möchtest? Ich bin dankbar für einige Anregungen, die für den naturwissenschaftlichen Unterricht nützlich wären.