Day 31 – Always, Sometimes, Never

Physics 11 – Students had two main tasks today. First of all they solved a couple of problems using graphical solutions. Next they had to answer the Always/Sometimes/Never question below.



I’ve used the Always/Sometimes/Never question before. Today most of the groups got the correct solution, although answering with examples can be difficult.

It will be interesting to see if students continue to use graphical solutions or if they will lean heavily on the equations.


Day 30 – Painted Cubes

Math 8 – Today the class started on the “Painted Cubes” problem. I figured this problem would be quite difficult for them, and I’m structuring the problem to focus on two things. First, I want students to use a problem solving strategy that helps them move from a specific case to a general case. Secondly, this problem is used to reinforce that squares, cubes, square roots and cube roots are not abstract ideas with weird symbols, but that they have physical meanings.

The students first have to understand what they know – the problem setup. Next, they have to be clear on what they’re looking for and what they want. To begin with this is the # of cubes that will have 3 faces painted, 2 faces painted, 1 face painted and 0 faces painted. What they’re doing today is solving a first specific example of this problem: a 3x3x3 cube. This is specialization. We’ll do a few more specializations, and then try a generalization.

In the top photo you can see a good example of the students checking their solution.  They knew they needed 27 cubes in total, and the solution in the bottom right corner didn’t allow them to have a cube with 0 faces painted.

The other photos show how some groups are trying to specialize with a 4x4x4 cube, and how to record their information in a way that makes sense.

Day 29 – Launcher Testing


Engineering Physics – At times it was a bit like pulling teeth, but today we finally got to test most of the Cart Launchers. The carts are difficult to design, much more complicated than a mousetrap cart because they need to trigger a launcher in mid-run. Not surprisingly, so far the best performing cart has the simplest design.

Day 28 – Integer Project

Math 8 – Students had their last classroom day to work on the project. This was a nice way to end the unit, with the students being assessed on whether or not they could formulate a cohesive understanding of integers and integer operations. As well, it becomes a formative task for them because some students will have learned new things from doing this project and can now re-test a learning objective for integers.

Day 27 – Cart Launchers are Almost Ready

WP_20161014_10_35_42_Pro.jpgEngineering Physics – a couple of groups are almost ready to test out their cart launchers. The competition was supposed to be today but students just weren’t ready. I’ve had some problems with this class/project. It was very hard to get kids started with their projects. While I encouraged them to do design work on paper or bring materials into class, not much happened for a couple of weeks. They felt that they had too much homework for their academic courses, which I agree was probably true and problem. Finally kids started bringing their materials to class and things moved a lot faster.  We will wrap up this project next week and then move onto a project that won’t require any materials or work outside of the classroom.

Day 26 – BEDMAS PI


Math 8 – We started class with doing a bit of Peer Instruction (PI) on order of operations.  Lots of pedagogy here: choosing random students to answer questions, peer instruction, spaced practice, etc…

This student did a wonderful job of coming up to the front of the class and giving a good solution to the problem presented

The first vote had about 50% correct answers, and this increased to about 88% after the second vote.

The rest of the class was spent on an integer project (more on that later).

Day 25 – Quiz Reflection


Physics 11 – Students had their Constant Velocity quizzes returned. I then asked them to review their quizzes and fill out the above reflection sheet.  The goal of the sheet would be to help them improve on the learning objective.

I then had the students try to finish generating their velocity-time graphs using tangents from their position-time curves.  It was a lot of heavy lifting and a slow process. I hope that it is a useful exercise. My co-worker believes that it is, and so does Modeling Instruction.