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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Unit II is in the books.

I tested on Unit 2 today. I should be grading but the pull of the internet is so alluring. I thought I should post a reflection on how the unit went. So here goes..

My success as a modeler: C-/D+

Why not higher?: I think I missed the point a lot. What I thought was obvious from the discussions I have learned was not. I need to be better with having a wrap-up after discussions. I need to be better about getting ALL kids involved in the discussions. I need to develop ways to get those kids who are off in la-la land back into what is going on. I need to figure out how to put a gag over my mouth and just let things happen. I need to be more precise with my language. I still spout out speed and velocity willy nilly. To me they are the same thing because I understand the difference. My students do not and it has led to confusion. I hope they all did well on the test, but of course I fear the worst.

Why not lower then?: I think my kids learned WAY more than they did from how I taught the topic last year. That being said, constant motion was about 2 days last year instead of 3 weeks like this year. But still I love that my students are actually engaged in intelligent conversation about physics.

Best moments (or why I'm never going back to the old way)?: When I had a sub for PSAT testing and my students continued with our whiteboard discussion without me and actually learned something. (My sub was blown away!) The fact that my students are actually willing to discuss physics even when I haven't specifically asked them to. (I have even caught them in lunch continuing a discussion from the morning class.) One student (who is retaking the class because he failed last year) told me that, "this way is WAY BETTER than last year. It makes so much more sense."

Reflections: I know I'm getting better as time goes on. I know that this is the right thing for the kids. I am worried that whiteboarding will get old for them. Too much of anything can become bad. So I need to find other ways to assess the work without using the whiteboards all the time. Also I need to resolve the fact that the rest of my department gives mostly multiple choice tests. We are meeting to create a district-wide test used by all physics classes. I am hoping my kids will do great on it but I am nervous since the style tests I'm giving do not match that style of question.

Despite all of this I truly am glad I went to that workshop. It was one of the best decisions I have made during my teaching profession.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Whiteboarding by itself.

An interesting thing happened in my class this week. I had to proctor the PSAT for the sophomores in my school. This left two of my Physics classes without my presence. I had planned a 10 minute quiz and whiteboarding for that day before being notified of the testing. I had considered changing the plan when I realized my students were still very reliant on me in the discussions. So I decided to have them go ahead with the original plan in my absence. It worked for both hours. The students whiteboarded the entire worksheet. They discussed motion maps and came to consensus on many different aspects of it. The next day I debriefed them on their decisions. The majority of them were spot on. What a proud moment I had for them.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

New graphing worksheets?

I think the modeling course resources need to be updated with new graphs that may speak more to the kids sensibilities. Here are some I found on my new favorite website.

funny graphs
see more Funny Graphs

Mo Money Mo Problems
see more Funny Graphs

funny graphs
see more Funny Graphs

funny graphs
see more Funny Graphs

song chart memes
see more Funny Graphs

Sunday, October 10, 2010

First Quiz.

So I gave the first quiz of my modeling career last week. The results were not pretty. The students weren't necessarily 'wrong,' they just weren't detailed enough in their responses. Most of the students scored 50% or less because of this. I spent a long time grading and asking questions that would focus them more and encourage more detail on their responses. I then had them do quiz corrections. I did not go over the quizzes in class at all. They had to tell me the "correct" answer and also tell me how their thinking had changed from their first answer to the corrected one. I then told them I would give them a make-up quiz on Friday. Both quizzes would still count, but those who did quiz corrections would get a fantastic bonus. Whatever grade they got on Friday's quiz would be the grade for both quizzes. I gave them a completely new quiz on the same topics. In the first class I graded, over 90% of my students scored an A on the quiz. It is amazing the detail and thought that was included on this quiz. Easiest quiz I have EVER graded. Oh modeling why didn't I find you years ago.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Why today was a great day.

My 5th hour had a breakthrough today in whiteboarding. My students are finally starting to get it. They had about a 5 minute discussion without asking me anything. By the end they had developed consensus on three big issues without me prompting much at all. It wasn't much but it was enough to make me pursue it further. It's kinda the same reason I still play golf. Everytime I swear I'm going to give up the game forever I hit that one perfect shot. I'm hoping I have more great whiteboarding moments than good golf shots. It just reinforces my opinion that taking a simple 3 week workshop may turn into one of the most pivotal important moments of my teaching career.