Day 12: Imminent PTSOS #1 -or- Feedback Returns

Friday, Sept 14

Tomorrow is the first PTSOS (Physics Teachers SOS) workshop where I am the Outreach Coordinator, which is a fancy title for “wrangling physics teachers and food”. I deal with registration, name tags, food, and all the stuff that isn’t part of helping the teachers learn more about teaching physics. I have given a CostCo list to G for fetching today, put in the order for lunch tomorrow (this is the first time I’ve had attendees contact me with special dietary restrictions, so new very small wrinkle, but easily smoothed out. Goodness knows I have worked with dietary restrictions before and made sure everyone got fed. My little southern heart couldn’t handle otherwise), got name tags made of a reasonable size AND color coded (far more difficult than I ever imagined), and have sent all of the confirmation and information emails that need to be sent.

I am so, so happy that we have this program. I went through it myself in the 2012-2013 school year and have been to literally every single meeting since. The first four years was as an attendee, and since 2016 I have been the Outreach Coordinator. Every single time I learn something new, make a new connection, reconnect with old friends, or figure out a better way to do something I’ve done before. It is invaluable, and I cannot imagine my practice without it and the people I’ve met through it.

(Now it’s Saturday, and here’s a quick pic of PTSOS just as we are reconvening after lunch, so people are still milling around and getting settled.)


Physics: Went over falling with air resistance compared with free fall using graphs and diagrams. I hadn’t planned it all out properly before I did it and kept having new ideas of ways to represent it as I was doing it, so it was quite messy, but they seemed to understand. I’ll recreate it on paper and get something I can hand out to students that’s more clear than whatever that was that ended up on the board. I didn’t think to take a picture of it before erasing it, but I’d be a touch ashamed to show it, anyway.

Honors Physics: Today was a discussion about the lab yesterday, and students shared a lot of things they found interesting or surprising or scary, and they had some really good insights and discoveries. I’m excited to read their write-ups next week. We ran out of time to talk about heat transfer more, so the text next week will stop at some ideas of conduction and we’ll run through radiation and convection after the exam. I’ll try to pop it in pretty quickly on Wednesday. We’ll see how that goes.

AP Physics: Reverse of Tuesday. Still measurement with unconventional units for the little lab and reaction time for the big lab. Grading the lab write-ups, I did a bad job communicating the purpose of the lab and what I wanted them to think about. I think the issue was I asked them to use the reaction time information to design a procedure, and they focused really heavily on the second part compared to the first part, which was what I cared about more. I’ll have to re-evaluate the instructions and probably ask them not to actually do the second activity, just design the procedure and then explain their choices very, very thoroughly using evidence from the reaction time data.

Student Feedback: Today I actually implemented the in-class “Friday 5-3-1” for Honors and AP where students tell me five things they learned or were surprised by, three things that are still puzzling or questions they have, and one suggestion for improving the class. Turns out that takes WAY too long, so, hey, first feedback I will be implementing is turning it into the Friday 3-2-1 instead.

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