# Day 7: Engagement, Lab, and Forces

Physics: Today was the exam. I spent the time doodling around with ideas for how to encourage engagement, not alienate the quieter students, and get something to put in the grade book. I’m not a fan of grades for the sake of numbers, but I’m also uncomfortable with the only grades being exam grades when the exams for this class are incredibly challenging. The idea I had was to each day give students a mark for engagement and at the end of the week translate that into a grade. I chose “engagement” over participation, because participation implies to most students “speaking up in front of the whole class”, which I don’t think is required for learning. Engagement is required, and I think that can look like a wide variety of actions, not all of which must happen only during class. I’ll run it by the students tomorrow and start implementing it on Monday, and then I’ll ask for feedback after a few weeks and make adjustments.

After grading the exam, the scores fell out in a class of 15 to be 4 As, 4Bs, 6Cs, and 1F. There were some problems practically everyone missed, but with the opportunity to do corrections and re-think about these problems, I’m ok with that. Dynamic equilibrium is a really challenging concept.

Honors Physics: Whew! This day did not go as expected! I was planning on very briefly going over the homework and focusing on free body diagrams and system schema, but the homework options turned out to be really confusing and not all that helpful in terms of practicing the skills, because the questions were not clear about which forces were important and which could be ignored and how to deal with three dimensions. I think I need to write some practice problems for this section and not depend on the book questions, which are far less helpful than they seemed when I looked over them before assigning them. So there was a lot of me saying, “Nah, you don’t need to worry about that,” and them saying, “But the book!” and me sighing heavily and feeling like a doof. I’ve marked this section in my course schedule to be revisited and reassessed for next year.

AP Physics: Lab quiz: Constant velocity. It gave them a v-t graph and asked them to find some changes in position, to construct an x-t graph, and make a motion map. Very, very basic ideas. I was still toying with the idea of corrections, but after seeing how they did, I decided to go for it. This is supposed to be an easy success and based on material that we’ve already covered thoroughly, but also a chance to uncover an under-the-radar misunderstanding. The first class did generally well with a few bobbles and one person who needs to do major corrections. I haven’t graded the second class yet, but I’m hoping for a similar or better set of scores.

Lab: Uniform Acceleration Lab. Gave them the same tasks as I did the honors physics class. Does this toy show uniform acceleration? Changed up the baseball and ramp to be a baseball, tennis ball, and ramp to see how they compare. I’m excited to see what the two different AP classes produce. I think the tractor and the indoor soccer ball are far more interesting than the ball and ramp, so I need to be on the lookout for more accelerating toys for students to check in future years. The ball/ramp is just a third accelerating thing that I could easily put my hands on. I had them all take pictures of their whiteboards and post them on the class website before erasing, and it’s interesting to see how different groups chose different ways to measure and represent their toy.