Day 54 – Whiteboarding Hooke’s Law

Physics 11 – Students presented their results on whiteboards today. In one class it is like pulling teeth to get students to talk in a whiteboard meeting. It is incredibly frustrating. I spoke with a few students after class, and they thought that maybe 1/2 the class was actually able to answer or question things that were said during the meeting, but chose not to.

Students did a good job of determining that the slope of the line on a Fs vs x graph is the stiffness of the spring, so that was pretty cool. Many groups didn’t think to find the equation of the line which was another beat my head against the wall moment. I really would like to get a modeling workshop here in Vancouver so I can improve on this aspect in my classes. Students are slowly coming around to the idea of modeling physics, but other details like having the kids take over discussions in class, along with timing on topics, continue to elude me.

Day 16 – Mistake Game

Physics 11 – Today was the physics’ students first shot at the mistake game. The above picture shows a group’s work on a ranking question.

As well, I handed back last day’s quiz on graphing, best fit lines, slopes and models. I asked students to look at three other quizzes to compare mistakes. They then had to write down the three most common mistakes and hand this sheet in to me. This is my attempt to stop them from repeating the same old mistakes time and time again…

Day 10 – Buggy Whiteboards

Physics 11 – I did a lot of talking again today, which was expected but still a bit disappointing.  It was the first board meeting I had with one class, and they were very quiet and unsure of what to say, ask or critique.

The top picture shows some good analysis and you can see the influence of math in the notation. We later talked about better symbols to use, and why a decimal is better than a fraction in this context.  The bottom picture is a screen grab from the consensus we came to for making whiteboards and models.  This class didn’t have anyone generalize the model, so I had to go over that part.

Next the students will have some practice moving through different representations (words, graphs, motion maps), which will highlight how they all apply to the same model.

Day 8 – Buggy Whiteboarding

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Physics 11 – Today was the students’ first shot at whiteboarding models that they’ve developed.  The photo above is interesting because during their presentation, this group realized that the direction on their graph was wrong.

The group below has a valuable statement on possible errors in data:


And the group below were the only ones that got to point of getting a mathematical model of the buggy motion. They had some good things to say with their presentation, more than what is shown here.



Day 122 – Whiteboarding CoM


Physics 11 – Whiteboarding last day’s results was the main even for today but I forgot to take pictures.  By going around the room from whiteboard to whiteboard I posed the question, “what pattern do you see?”  Inevitably the students start to see that in each case, the moment of the objects before the interaction is equal to the momentum of the objects afterwards.  Ah ha! Conservation of Momentum!

I then showed the students how conservation of momentum can also be seen as a consequence from Newton’s Third Law.


Day 36 – The Mistake Game


Physics  11 – Today the physics classes did group whiteboard problems and presented their work to the class.  We used the Mistake Game, where each group had to include a mistake on their whiteboard.  In the above example students did not convert from km/h to m/s.   It was a great way to reinforce the idea that we have to work with common units when doing our calculations.

Day 28 – Mini Whiteboards and Plickers



Physics 11 – This year every student of mine has their own Plicker card.  In previous years I kept one laminated set of plickers but it was a bit of a pain to work with.  It took time to hand out and collect, and it was too difficult to ensure that each student had the card number that they were assigned to. What I did this year was combine a plicker with mini whiteboards.  Each student received a plicker card printed on regular A sized paper, one A sized sheet of card stock. These where then slid inside a plastic sheet protector and voila!  Not only do they have a plicker card but they have an erasable surface for questions that involve writing down an answer or graph.  For example, I can ask students to predict the v-t graph of an object’s motion.  I still use Peer Instruction with Plickers and it continues to be a solid system to use.

Day 27 – Graphical Representations of Acceleration



Physics 11 – Students worked in groups and made different graphical representations of uniform acceleration.  With only a little bit of nudging, kids were able to mostly do things correctly.  I had the whole class work on the same problems, so when we did our whiteboard meetings I had the students find similarities and differences between the different groups.

Day 24 – Whiteboarding Acceleration Lab



Physics 11 – Students presented their whiteboards after completing all of their lab work.  Lots of kids got the equation of a line for the v-t graphs, which was nice to see.  They also started showing appropriate thinking such as, “I know that our spool was accelerating faster because the line is steeper.”

One issue is creeping up in the work though. Students are getting confused on when to use a Best Fit Line, and when their graphs are supposed to be discontinuous. I tried to emphasize that BFL are used when the motion is uniform (a ball rolling down the ramp, a buggy driving along the floor), and the discontinuous graphs are for graphs that tell the story of objects that change the motion (starts moving forward, slows down, turns around, etc).   There was a lot of head nodding but I’m not convinced that all students really get the difference.

Day 71: Creating and Analyzing Waves

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Science 8 – Grade 8 science is starting a unit on waves and optics.  One of the first activities we covered was drawing a traverse wave using a vibrating marker pen drawing against a file folder that is moved horizontally.  I think the students really appreciated this lab, as it was quite surprising to them that a curved wave shape could be created by two perpendicular movements.  It also reinforced the concept of particles moving in one place (the marker) while a wave seemed to move along.

One extremely pleasing part of the lesson was when the student in the yellow volunteered to go first in presenting his whiteboard.  This student is interested in science but is shy at times, and maybe even lacks a bit of confidence. However, he was randomly put in a group where he became a natural fit for leading the group.  Not only did he show leadership in developing the group’s solution, but his willingness to share with the class was great to see.

Three excellent gifs are also used in this lesson: