Friday, Aug 31
Today I did the same activity with each class, but every class was so very, very different in the way I was able to approach it. The activity and all resources were used from here. Basic outline:
- Students get a blank game board and a record of the moves from one game
- Using this data, they try to figure out what are the rules of the game
- Then I gave them records of moves from more games and they refined the rule set
- We discussed how this is related to theories and hypotheses in the process of science
Physics: This class I worked hard to help them through the process and get them talking to one another. They’re still very uncertain about speaking up, asking each other questions, and generally engaging. That is 100% fair. I’m going to be using a lot of the scaffolding techniques I read in the book “Big Ideas in Physics and How to Teach Them” by Ben Rogers. I pushed off going over the reading they did last night until Monday, but considering they all did super well on the quiz, I am not worried about it too much.
They got the easiest version of the game, where the board had shading and pictures of the pieces to help them make associations. Honors and AP got an almost entirely blank board and had to figure it all out with fewer hints.
Honors Physics: This class got started a tiny bit on the process on Thursday, so after we reviewed a few things from the day before, I sent them back to it. They were incredibly engaged in their small groups, but still struggled to have discussions in larger groups. Totally understandable, since that is a hard skill for everyone. Something that we will continue to work on throughout the year.
AP Physics: The two classes have different make-ups (one has four girls, the other has zero. One has a lot of very strong personalities, the other has a few strong and some very reticent), and considering one section also had its double period today and thus literally twice as much time, there was a bit of a difference in the details between the two classes, largely in terms of how much of a chance we had to discuss, do more rounds, and actually work on the activity without being rushed through it. However, the same basic discussions were had and conclusions were reached, so I was pretty happy with it. I think a period and a half would have been just about perfect.
One cool difference was that with more time, one group actually sat down and played out the game to see the moves in real space. It was neat to see their creativity and concrete approach.