Day 3 & 4: Recovery and Recovered

Monday, Sept 3 and Tuesday, Sept 4

I had duty over the weekend and also food poisoning, so Monday was largely a bit of a haze. I went to bed at 9pm and slept pretty well, so Tuesday actually felt pretty good. I’ve been working on Brian Frank’s talk moves and validating student thinking over correct answers. More “what are possible results” and “why reasoning might someone have who chose this as their answer” than immediately saying ‘Yes, correct’ or ‘Not quite’ or whatever. It’s HARD to change habits, and I stumbled a few times over how to phrase responses to wrong answers that don’t sound patronizing.

Physics: Monday we took a quiz in physics and talked about Chapter 2. I struggled with the “hang a mass by two scales and separate your fingers to show the readings increase” demo, but mostly got it to show them. Ideally I would get it in their hands, but I was still feeling pretty rotten and exhausted and didn’t have it in me to deal with equipment. We went over the homework, as well, and had a good talk about the Monkey problem of why the tension in a diagonal rope is greater than the weight of a monkey holding on to the side of the cage. One activity was having them write a “very good explanation” in their notes, and I gave them the Guided Reading worksheet as homework to review the chapter.

Tuesday we very, very thoroughly reviewed the ideas of Monday, and one of their tasks was to improve their explanation from the day before based on our discussions today. We went over homework questions, and then I handed out a set of concept development questions. I could only find them for this chapter online with the answers included, so the assignment went from “find the right answer” to “explain why this is the right answer”. The goal was for them to assess their understanding of the ideas. I guess we’ll see tomorrow how that went. This class does not like to work in groups. I may have to start forcing the issue and pairing them up. I also have a clock-watcher who seems very reluctant to be here. Now that I feel better and have a bit of energy, I plan to look into that a little more deeply and see what I can do to include him more with lots of thinking about Carla Shalaby’s “Troublemakers”.

Honors Physics: I super love this class. I was worried having class at 125% capacity would be a hindrance The kids are engaged and interested. There’s lots of people ready to raise their hand or offer their voices. It’s fantastic and energizing for me. Monday we talked about temperature, temperature scales, average energy, total energy, and began a basic discussion of thermal equilibrium. I hit dozens of things in the classroom with our infrared thermometer (etekcity lasergrip 774) and compared those and introduced the idea of everything both absorbing and emitting thermal energy all the time.

Tuesday we focused a little deeper on defining heat and how the results adding or taking away heat from a system is super easy to predict if all else remains equal and teased next week when we’ll talk about gas laws. The next topic was thermal expansion. I put up a practice problem that most of them had done the night before as homework, so I instructed them to change the problem to be something new. Some changed the initial length, some changed the temperatures, some changed the heating to cooling, and the discussion of changes led us to discover that objects when cooled a certain number of degrees shrink the same amount as a heated object grows with the same temperature change. This was very exciting for me.

After that we went outside to the quad and became particles. I had them be a cool liquid and then slowly warm up. They had great fun bouncing into one another. I had them occasionally stop and notice changes, and just like objects, as I asked them to “act” warmer and warmer the group naturally started covering a greater area of the ground. So then I had them be a cool solid and be all close together, then “warm up” by all moving to be an arms length away from anyone else and see what happened. Yup, took up more space. I asked them what would happen if there was a hole in the middle. The very first answer was the correct one, but only agreed that was one possibility and asked what the others were, and asked them to think of a possible justification for each one. Before I told them what the correct answer was, I had them be a solid again, only with a hole in the middle. I stood in the hole and told them all to “warm up”. They all immediately backed up and saw exactly why a hole expands when the object it is in heats up.

This was also very exciting for me. Like, SUPER exciting. I didn’t know if it would work the way I imagined when we went in, but it worked beautifully. We then went back inside and had some more discussion. We talked about what would happen to a slot in a material. Then I had to define slot, which was a good check on me being mindful of all the kids who speak English as a second, third, fourth, or even more-th language.

The very last piece was teasing tomorrow’s lesson on stress and strain with definitions and asking them why these ideas connect with thermal expansion. Their immediate response was that thermal expansion/contraction caused strain, but we quickly changed that to include “WHEN THE LENGTH IS CONSTRAINED”. Tomorrow we’ll bring all this stuff together in more detail. I had no idea I would enjoy this class this much.

AP Physics: Monday we discussed constant velocity motion, motion diagrams, and x-t graphs. I was really struggling with the talk moves what with AP being the last two periods of the day, after which I had Robotics for 2.5 hours followed by a community dinner and a community meeting that went until 7:30. Monday was ROUGH. One student shared something he noticed about a homework problem that was a reasonable guess, but not correct, and I stumbled a lot and said a bunch of different unhelpful things that obviously all combined to say “WRONG” but in many words and extremely inarticulately. That’s literally the opposite of my goal. I’ll keep working on this. Tuesday was better. Why, you ask?

Lab day! Tuesdays and Fridays are going to be “lab days” for the AP class. One class has the double period and the other has a single period, so there’ll be a big lab and a little lab each day. I haven’t fully planned all of them out completely, but having two lab days and three content days will keep the classes in synch as much as possible.

Big lab: Physics 500. I used this version (file download .docx). I didn’t have a set distance for the mystery distance, but estimated a length of the track based on the football field markers, my step size, and a few other things to be in a certain range. Tomorrow we’ll have a big de-brief about errors and estimations and what makes a good or bad measurement. I care zero about percent error since I rarely do confirmation labs, so I don’t mind much that not even I really know what the mystery distance is exactly.

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Little Lab: Inertia Stations

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