27 November 2010

Dissertation Update #2: "The Last Good Year"

I finished a chapter during the week, finally. I zoomed past my intended page count at least a week before that, but it turns out that I couldn't say everything I needed to say about the International Geophysical Year, Diefenbaker, the Glassco Commission, Pearson, the 1964 White Paper on Defence, the Mackenzie Report, the Science Secretariat, the Science Council, Integration/Unification, the Laurendeau/Dunton Commission, the Bird Commission, and how all of these things impacted the Defence Research Board in a mere 50 pages. The last few pages of the Chapter kept stretching out. One more sentence turned into one more paragraph, and one more paragraph turned into one more page.

05 October 2010

Where there's smoke, there's fire

Every so often I meet with my supervisor to discuss my progress (or lack thereof) and then we brainstorm ways to get this dissertation done sooner than later. At the end of the summer we met. His suggestion was to take a week off to refresh the batteries and then get back at it. My desire was to rediscover my love of writing and continue working on the dissertation. The compromise was a temporary break from dissertating and a brief focus on tangential, but necessary academic activities like updating my CV and starting this blog. This was moderately successful; I don't blog as regularly as I might like and the dissertation meter doesn't always inch up in terms of raw and comprehensible page count, even while I'm plugging away every day.

27 September 2010

Three Questions

Once people learn that I am a graduate student they usually follow up with three questions.
  1. What do you study?
    1. Which comes with a subliminal request, "please keep the answer short and comprehensible; if I'm actually interested and understand your short answer, then I will ask for more details."
  2. When are you going to be done?
  3. What do you think you'll do when you're done?

23 September 2010

Dissertation Update #1: Ionosphere and Rockets

The current chapter that I'm working on covers the period from 1956 to 1967. It's the tenure of the second chairman of the Defence Research Board, a man by the name of Hartley Zimmerman (full name Adam Hartley Zimmerman, father of Noranda CEO and Member of the Order of Canada Adam Hartley Zimmerman).

21 September 2010

Teaching Tip #3: How to Structure Your Weekly Discussion Section

Before I get to any further examples of lesson plans, I'm going to pass along a tip about structuring a class that I probably should have made the second Teaching Tip. I like to structure my sessions the same each week, so that there is a comfortable routine for everyone. I have four main components that I find work for me.
  1. Attendance and announcements [1-3 minutes]
  2. Questions generated by the students about previous weeks, lectures, the reading, assignments, etc. [2-5 minutes]
  3. Active discussion of the readings [35-40 minutes]
  4. My summary of the important points of the discussion and a preview of what they will be doing the following week and a repeat of any announcements [2-5 minutes]

20 September 2010

Quick Notes for a Friday #3

The fact that Quick Notes was delayed from Friday to Monday means that I have even more links to pass along.

The theme of the day is education.

14 September 2010

13 September 2010

Teaching Tip #2: Critical Reading for History (of Science)

Here is the long-awaited second Teaching Tip. Hopefully it is not too late in the term to create your own lesson plan around this tip.

There are two complaints that cross the lips of university educators more often than others. The first is that students are unprepared for class each week. The second is that students are unprepared for university when they leave high school. I think the two are related.

25 August 2010

Teaching Tip #1: First Day of Class

So the start of the school year is nearly upon us, which means that it would be a good time to start posting some teaching tips. I'll start at the beginning, with the very first day of class.

The teaching tactic I will describe is particularly suited to frosh/soph tutorials, but it could easily be adapted to a junior/senior seminar setting, and for the exceptionally brave it would not be hard to vary it for a lecture setting.