Day 11: To CER with No Love

Wednesday, Sept 13

I was determined to make it through this day and teach my damn classes rather than give up like I did yesterday. Luckily what I had planned for today is pretty low-key, so I made it happen with the help of my arsenal.


My arsenal: The one on the left is my water cup. The orange one in the middle is an espresso with foamed milk (Thanks, student who bought me the espresso maker four years ago that I finally set up this year!). The blue one on the left is two bags of “Cold and flu” tea with a special blend of Chinese herbs plus fresh ginger, fresh garlic, and a few whole peppercorns thrown in. After it steeps a little longer, I’ll add the honey. The tea should also have whole cloves, a cinnamon stick, and lemon to it, but putting it all together with ten minutes to get to class while feeling pretty grody meant not dealing with all the things. It’s still delicious.

Physics: Started with the quiz I forgot to give them yesterday. I feel like I’m super behind after being sick yesterday and giving the teaching up to YouTube, so I talked to Charlie who helped me find time in the schedule for catch-up and gave me the go-ahead I guess I needed to deviate from the way the book covers things to do it in the way I think best conveys the concepts. I’ve been feeling a little constrained. Ok, a lot constrained. But now I feel like I can do the things in my own style a little more. I had told myself I would follow Charlie’s lead, which I have been doing, and is also probably why I felt like I needed to stick to his methods, but I know how to teach this stuff, and I need to use my judgement and the best methods I know. I also talked to the other teacher who team-teaches with Charlie, and he gave me the same information. Cover the same content, but do it your way.

After the quiz was their very first lab. They’re so adorable. It’s an air-track lab where they send a glider down a gently sloped track and use the distance equation to discover the acceleration at two different starting points. I had to tell them not to start slinging the glider back and forth at the beginning and only had to stop one kid from doing it during the lab. I call it a win. Charlie also talked to me about a few sticking points of confusion, so I tried to front load those. We’ll see if it helped any. The last ten minutes of class I started going over representations beginning with motion maps and leading in to position-time graphs. Those two things are pretty directly connected, and the students seemed to really understand how those were related. V-t graphs are a lot more challenging at this level, since they require different ways of thinking than folks who haven’t had calculus have ever really had to do. We’ll learn about how to get velocity from motion maps and turning those into graphs tomorrow and then talk about how they relate. Since this chapter bypasses CVPM almost entirely to jump to free-fall, I’m going to circle back and talk about CVPM and CAPM as well for non-free-fall situations.

Yesterday I had them write in their own words why two objects of different masses should fall at the same rate, and the ability to construct an argument is sorely lacking. I need to use the time tomorrow to go over representations of motion, so I’ll have to use that content to go over how to use CER. I’m not the biggest CER fan, because I think you need to provide evidence and reasoning before coming to your conclusion, not begin with the claim and then figure out how to support it after. An argument needs to answer “What did you see? Why does it matter? What does it tell you?” If you go “What do you think the answer is? Why do you think that? How do you justify it?” then you’re not actually making an argument, you’re justifying an opinion. Blegh. Need to think more when I’m feeling better.

Honors Physics: We started Newton’s Second Law. Almost the entire class was spent going over homework problems, which is a-ok by me. I want them to have some facility with thinking about net forces and acceleration before we get too deep into system analysis, which we start tomorrow with deeper consideration of Newton’s Third Law and some discussions of car crashes. I usually tell the story of my best friend’s little sister who was killed in a car wreck at 16 because of bad luck and not wearing a seatbelt. I was a junior in college and had invited a bunch of friends over to celebrate my birthday when I got the call. I never want get another one of those calls, so if you’re reading this, wear your damn seat belt!

AP Physics: Inertia stations. I’m very glad I can finally clean these up after today, because I’m tired of my classroom being a bit of a wreck. I do love how much everyone laughs at my “physics tubes” and “physics paper”. I didn’t find a plastic beaker of the right size, so had to cancel the station where the students whack a pie pan out from under a baseball to see that the baseball falls straight down after the glass beaker I borrowed from Chemistry got broken in the first minutes of the first class where I did these stations. I’ll make sure I get something suitably non-breakable and see-through-able before next year.

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