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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.


  1. I think the key to keeping WBing interesting is to have some variety with what you do w/ them. Group discussions, group presentations in front of room, maybe putting them up around room, and have kids go around writing comments.

    I mentioned to Frank and a few other modelers that it might be fun to create a posterous/flickr account that anyone could post photos of WBs from cell phones. It would be neat for kids to see WBs from other schools, and might even be useful for assessemnts/review.

    Would you be interested?

  2. Absolutely, that sounds like a neat idea!

  3. Awesome. We've set it up. Just email to Frank has already posted a few.