Day 49 – Self Assessment

Math 8 – Students check over their answers with my answer key and also did a good job of correcting my answer key. I’m always honest about my ability to make mistakes. I think this is a good thing, up to a point. We still have to model good habits, hard work to get to a correct answer, and an appreciation of doing good work.

And no, I’m not going to collect 85 sheets of work and put a bunch of checkmarks on them, or give them marks. I do give out a lot of feedback as I walk around the class for 60 minutes. I do believe that custom feedback would be better but I don’t have time for it, and research shows that written feedback is most often ignored by students.

Day 48 – Quiz and Fg Practice

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Physics 11 – Students had their last quiz on 1D Kinematics today and it looks like there was a lot of success. Students then did practice for Fg calculations. I particularly like the last question, which reinforces that the slope of the Fg vs m graph is acceleration due to gravity.

Day 47 – Specialize for Problem Solving

Math 8 – Today I am trying to get kids to extend their practice of using concrete examples and specialization for general math problem solving. The above picture was one example we did. Many students didn’t know how to approach this problem initially but they were able to re-frame it with a question they could do: they realized that 50% of 1480 is 740. This helps them figure out a method for doing the problem they really want an answer to.

Day 45 – 3D Printers Unpacked

Math – Today I unpacked the two 3D Printers that arrived. I ordered 2 refurbished “Simple” printers from Printrbot. I’m not entirely sure when I will get time to set them up though. I think the fume hood will be a great place for them, as the exhaust can easily handle any smells and the sash window can help block noise.

Unfortunately it looks like one of the printer’s extruders is at an angle. I don’t know if this causes problems or not, so I will try to get a hold of Printrbot and see what they have to say.

Day 44 – Arduino

Engineering Physics – Students started using Arduinos today. There was some puzzlement and headscratching, but also some very pleased kids. One student had the biggest smile I think I’ve ever seen on the student. She was so proud and happy to create a circuit where LED’s flashed on and off. I think it was the idea that they accomplished something concrete yet totally foreign to them. That “Holy sh%t, I actually did it!” kind of feeling.

Day 43 – F=mg

Physics 11 – In previous I my students always seem to have an on-going battle with “weight”, “force of gravity”, “Fg” and “mass.” I thought I’d confront this issue head on this year. My classes did a lab finding the relationship between Force of gravity and mass. They also used Excel to produce their graphs, which will make subsequent graphing tasks in class much faster. The students will then practice targeted questions on Fg. Hopefully this bit of time will pay off throughout the year.

Day 42 – Arduino Enthusiasm


Engineering Physics – We finally had a bit of luck today and most of the computers logged in fairly quickly. Students got to make their first Arduino sketch and circuit. The main goal was to choose an appropriate sized resistor to match an LED, build the circuit with a breadboard, and make the LED blink. Some groups were quicker than others and they started to develop their own more complicated circuits involving multiple LEDs.

The students were pretty pumped and many asked me if we could work on the Arduinos again next day. The plan is for them to build a timing system using photoresistors, so yes, we’ll be using the arduinos.




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In Physics 11, the students started off with a Plickers kinematics question. I chose a question that would likely lead the students to use d=vot + 1/2at^2.  The wrong answers included not squaring the time, and not considering that there was acceleration (using d=vt instead).  I then challenged students to create fully annotated graphs from a different problem.  We did a gallery walk with the whiteboards and I wrote down properties of the graphs that we agreed were good to include.

Day 41 – Tech Frustrations


Math 8 and 11 – The above picture pretty much sums up my day. You probably can’t see it, but one of the notebooks has the network connected with internet access the other one does not. For most of my days this year I’ve had fantastic problems connecting to the network on the class notebooks. It will take anywhere from 2 to 60 minutes for a notebook to login and connect.

I’d be ok with the computer not connecting to the network, but the Arduino IDE that we use needs to store files locally, and in our school district the IT people decided to make each person’s My Documents a network drive. So if there’s no network, there’s no way to run the Arduino software.

But there’s more.

We spent over an hour of class trying to get kids signed up for Powerschool so I can use their SBG Gradebook. Students have several problems with registering on websites, including:

  • they have multiple email addresses and can’t remember which one they’ve used
  • they have multiple email addresses and can’t remember passwords
  • they forgot their password and don’t know how to recover it (… click the “forgot password” button?)
  • they don’t have an email address
  • they don’t check email
  • they check email but can’t be bothered to register
  • they get locked out of gmail and have to wait for their parents to unlock their account with their recovery information sent as a text message to their parents’ cel phone

In summary, teens are no longer digital natives. They are smartphone natives, which means their parents signed into their phone account for them, and they’ve never needed to sign in again.

Day 40 – First Quantitative CA Quiz


Physics 11 – Today the students had their first constant acceleration “equation” quiz. I tried to incorporate some smart questions into it. The first question is “low floor”. Everyone should have success with it. The second question is a boilerplate physics 11 question that the students are expected to be proficient at. The third question is designed to reveal a common mistake. Students will be tempted to use the d=1/2(vi + vf)t equation, using vo = 0. This turns a constant velocity question into one that (mistakenly) has acceleration. We went over the quiz and several students made this mistake. I wonder if hammering on this mistake will prevent it from happening… No, it won’t be it will hopefully reduce its frequency.