Day 40: Introduction to Gravity


Physics 11 Using the ideas from Preconceptions in Mechanics (Camp and Clement), today in physics we had our first look at gravity.  The focus of the day was to see what factors affect gravity: rotation, magnetism, pressure and mass.  Frank Noschese and his 180 day blog is my other go to resource for these topics.  There’s not a lot for me to write other than to point you towards Frank’s blog: Noschese 180

One tool that I like to use for these types of discussions and explorations is the idea of Claim, Evidence, and Reasoning.  The Claim really helps the students stop fence sitting, while the Evidence discourages guesses and makes students connect with their own reasoning.

Day 38: Kinematics Quiz


Physics 11 Well that didn’t go so great [the above is a screenshot of the standard kin.4 from ActiveGrade, which shows most kids not having mastery]. On average the students were not able to show mastery of our constant acceleration kinematics problem solving standard.  Most are very close, so I’ll have to make a decision on where we go with this next. I can do another quiz during class, give an after school quiz, or leave it for student initiated assessments.

The quiz revealed the same things I see every year.  The absolute complete reluctance to write down information, make sketches, or sketch graphs.  The question that tripped most people is actually pretty straight forward if you bother to take the time to sketch the velocity time curve. Since we’ve been scaffolding graphing all the way through, it is disappointing to see it completely abandoned at this stage.  I could explicitly ask for graphs on the quiz, but then I would hear a large uproar of complaints about that too.

It is very odd.  The kids that do the best are the ones that complain the least.  They also do the little things right.  I wonder which comes first? Do they complain the least and do higher quality work because they already understand the physics?  Or do they understand the physics because they’ve taken the time to do the little things right and persevere?

We’re starting forces next, and I know that the same students that struggle when trying to do a graph or clearly write down the model they are using will continue down this path.

Day 10: Whiteboarding CV

Today the physics classes put together their graphs and linear functions to come up with a model for constant velocity. Whiteboard discussion was actually pretty good considering we have 30 kids per class.

While many kids really had to wrap their heads around the physical meaning of their graphs (slope and intercepts), the actual physics of CV is a bit too easy for them. They’ve all been exposed to constant velocity in science 10, and have also probably approached similar data and functions in math 10.


In this example, we had a good discussion on significant figures (again), but this group had a pretty good handle on what their graph was telling them.