Day 100: Spring Term Begins

Monday, March 12

Finally back from break. I had this tension the entire time between wanting school to be in session again but also not wanting to do any school-related work while I didn’t have to, so it ended up being a wholly unproductive break.

Physics: I handed back final exams for the students to take a look at. There is one student who has still not taken the exam, so I asked him to step out while the other students looked theirs over. The next topic is lenses. It’s the second to last class the first day back from break. I started helping them through the first reading on ray diagrams and utterly failed the first time through as evidenced by their feedback that none of it made any sense. Fair. So, I pulled back and we talked about a simple trapezoidal prism. Then we stacked prisms. Then we made the prisms into lenses. Then they were reliably able to make predictions about parallel rays in. They intuitively understood rays through the middle don’t change, but the rays to/from the focal length come out parallel to the principle axis will take them a little more work. BUT they are well prepared for their reading tonight which will prepare them for the quiz tomorrow. I really love ray diagrams.

Honors Physics: I again handed back finals for students to go over and ask any questions or at least find something productive to do during this time if they scored absurdly high. Most of them scored pretty high, but there were also a few tricky questions we got to talk about. After that I tried a different way of introducing circuits than my usual immediately handing them a battery, wire, and lightbulb (which I will do tomorrow instead). I didn’t get here early enough to set up all the batteries and bulbs I needed, so I started giving ideas names and trying to draw on any previous knowledge. We named the things that exist in a circuit and their diagram symbols, then we talked about ways to arrange more than one resistor for the briefest introduction to series and parallel, and then I gave names to the things that we would be measuring tomorrow to set them up for tomorrow. It felt weird to keep telling them stuff with literally no greater context and assuring them it’ll make sense tomorrow. I know that throwing them straight into playing with the materials and then explaining how it works way better than explaining how everything works before they ever touch a circuit one, so now I’ll compare that with very short introduction before playing with equipment and see if that helps or no.

AP Physics: First, I handed back final exams for them to ask questions. Then, as promised, we did the feedback form for students to give me information about how they felt in the class and what they wanted. I did it on paper rather than Google Forms so it will all be hand-written qualitative data, which I think will give me more authentic feedback than ranking a bunch of statements from 1-5. The first class had a couple nice, positive remarks, one super negative remark, and the rest middle of the road with varying levels of reflection and suggestion. The second class was FAR more complimentary and also had some good suggestions and requests. This also matches my experience of the one class being a much harder group of students to manage with wider gaps in ability level and the other being smaller and more engaged. I will put my analysis and takeaways in a separate post so this doesn’t end up being horrifically long. I really appreciate these kids’ willingness to give thoughtful, helpful feedback and share their thinking.


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