Day 6: Review and Forces

Physics: Today we reviewed for the exam tomorrow. I went over the format and used the review developed by my colleague to get them prepared. We talked through some review problems as well. I love this class. Many of the kids are super engaged and ask good questions and are not at all hesitant to ask questions and demand better explanations or more examples. I am recognizing that I have let this collection of five or six students monopolize the discussion, so after tomorrow’s exam my goals will change so that I can hear more voices and get better evidence of wider engagement. I appreciate those kids so much, and I love answering their questions, but they are not the only students, and I need to figure out multiple paths to participation. I will spend tomorrow’s class during the exam making some decisions and considering my choices for how to move forward.

Honors Physics: Honors physics did CAPM before forces, so today we learned how to add vectors and connect vectors and motion so tomorrow we can begin learning about Newton’s Laws and balanced/unbalanced forces. Before that, though, we de-briefed the lab from Tuesday. A lot of the kids put “human error” as reasons for mistakes, so we talked about how errors come from measurements and affect variables, and they were really great about analyzing their procedures from before and discovering where their actions may have affected their measurements. I told them that’s the kind of thing I want to see in future labs, but saying “human error” caused problems is about as useful as saying “unicorns” or “magic elves”.

AP Physics: Today was the basics of Newton’s Third Law, how to draw system schema to identify interactions, how to name forces, and then Newton’s Second Law to bring together the ideas of forces we’ve been learning with the ideas of motion to help students think about when to use CVPM and when to use CAPM and when both models break down if you have complex relationships or variable forces. The students were very receptive, and it was super fun for me, too. This lesson is a little more lecturey than I would prefer, but considering that these ideas don’t exist in the textbook in this form, I can’t really have them read it ahead of time, so there was a lot of showing and telling more than students doing and discovering today. I recognizing that teaching is a balance, but I do want to spend some time thinking about how to de-center myself in this topic.

Assessment: Just in general, I need to figure out day-to-day assessments and homework grades and things. There are a couple quizzes a week for the regular physics class, but students are supposed to take them after the reading and before any discussion, which is not my style, so I don’t like using those as high-value things. Same with homework. My colleague takes up the homework and grades it, then goes over it the next class. I prefer to go over it the day right after they do it to have it be more fresh. I don’t want to step too far away from his policies in my own so there’s no cries of “that’s not fair” or “I wish I were in the other class.”

I am instituting quizzes for Honors and AP the first ten or so minutes of each lab period, so once a week. This will be the opportunity for them to see how well they are understanding the basic topics.

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