A Peak into Physics in May...

What my physics kids are doing...

The marble-carrying paper coasters are all wrapped up and looking lovely and pink lined up in the back of my room.  Here's a peak of my view!
DiSanto physics class paper roller coasters for energy conservation project
We (my students and I) are at a very critical time.  They are more done than they've ever been done before.  I have to keep the project vibe going AND increase their choices to keep them engaged.  As a result, I'm ending our physics experience with two options:
  1. Build a device that lifts the marble from the tabletop to the entry of the roller coaster using only mechanical components with a single, brief activation force, incorporating concepts from the entire year, and without touching or modifying the coaster.
  2. Create a physics video presenting three different scenarios or questions and analyzing the physics behind them using concepts from the entire year.
The packets for the build and video projects are linked so you can see all the details!

These projects keep my kids engaged in physics for the remainder of their senior year.  They're busily reviewing our past packets to remind themselves of older skills and striving to demonstrate their knowledge while having fun.  The building really speaks to those students who love working with their hands and became so attached to their coaster, and the video allows those who need a fresh start to take it!  I also have some vloggers in the group and an aspiring director who jump at any chance to make and edit video.  I love this last burst of personality before we say goodbye!

What my AP® Physics kids are doing...

While my physics kids are making funny videos and building launchers and elevators, my AP® kiddos are reviewing like crazy.  They have done 5 full AP® Physics C: Mechanics exams and had a review quiz every week, highlighting skills from our entire year together.  While exam prep is not even close to my favorite activity, it's amazing to see them pull everything together and still care about improving.  Monday, May 13th is our day!

What I'm doing...

Besides supporting my current students in their project goals and exam prep, I'm already thinking about next year.  I've started going back to my early units and reading all of the notes I've written to myself as my classes worked through our packets.  In case you're curious, I do this in a program called OneNote.  First, I insert a digital printout of my packet into an organized OneNote page inside my course notebook.  Then, I write solutions and class notes on top of the pages to export for my students.  At the end of class sessions, I write notes to myself along the margins.  I write things like: "Maybe ask them to solve for impulse here," or "This problem was way too hard for this early...move to end of the packet?"  I do this on homework assignments, quizzes, my lesson plan overviews, pretty much everywhere.  The image below shows you how this looks.
DiSanto packet note-taking in OneNote
These two half pages are from the start of my energy packet for AP® Physics.  You can see the pages of the actual packet are the portions of the printout on the left.  The handwriting is written directly on top of the summary table, showing what I review with the kids during class (I use a stylus on my Surface Pro).  My notes to myself are on the right.  Each summer, I go through all of these notes (there are quite a few).  Personally, this has been the best method to ensure I actually make the changes I want.  If I don't write them down RIGHT AWAY, they won't happen.  Having the notes adjacent to what I want to change makes the editing process much more efficient.  I also always save previous revisions in a resources section in my OneNote notebook in case I want to bring back a problem or activity back that I miss.  As I write this, I am feeling like a future post on OneNote may be warranted!  I cannot gush enough about this program, and I thank my husband profusely for introducing me to this organizational marvel at the start of my first year of teaching :)

As the year comes to a close (graduation May 24th!), my next posts will likely center around plans for next year, both dramatic and less so.


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