Physics: Summer Prep!

I can't believe I haven't written since May!  And it's JULY!  I already mentioned a little bit in my previous post about how I go through all of my notes to myself in OneNote and make the corresponding changes during the summer.  I have been making those changes for a few weeks now, mainly for my physics course (AP® is next!).  I'm ALMOST done updating my packets, homework assignments, and quizzes.  Check out some of the more significant changes I've been making below!

Update my homework cover page

In this past post, I shared my homework cover page that asks my students to reflect on the course skills they used to complete the homework and where they need to spend more time.  I do this to help bring the skills into their vocabulary and to encourage them to be aware of their physics practice.  These reflections are always AMAZING at the beginning of the year and then they just degrade over time.  I also struggled to encourage thoughtful reflections since my homework rubric didn't actually reference the reflection!  Basically, I couldn't officially "enforce" the reflection.  I was really kicking myself for that one.  Below is my updated homework cover page including new formatting of the reflection portion, my values as the header like in my packets, and an updated rubric at the bottom!
disanto physics homework cover page with scoring rubric
I'm super excited to see how this update impacts the resulting reflections and their comfort with our course skills!

Shift to qualitative lab investigations

This year, I was incredibly frustrated with some of my lab activities.  My physics students are not crazy comfortable with math (many times even in the most basic sense) and yet some of our explorations require linking physical phenomena to mathematical relationships.  Honestly, usually this relationship is linear so I often have trouble seeing where the challenge is coming in.  Further, this isn't the first year I have found this to be the case.  I feel like I have to drag the students through quantitative relationships during labs, and if I'm doing all of the work, what are they getting out of it?  After a few years of consistently trying to rework and rewrite these investigations, I'm going to try to focus more on qualitative experiments.  I want to emphasize narrative results and encourage my students to think about how one change impacts a system, whether this change matches their developing intuition, and what this change could mean for other systems.  I'm hoping this approach will free my students from the stress and anxiety the numbers cause and allow them to relax into observation and analysis.

Below is an example of a 2nd law lab I have completely rewritten for qualitative analysis only.  I'll see how the kiddos respond.
page 1 of newton's second law qualitative lab disanto physics

 page 2 of newton's second law qualitative lab disanto physics

New momentum chart

I have been using IFF charts for the last few years to model momentum transfer.  I find these charts to be incredibly intuitive and useful, but my kids really don't.  Some of the issues include: 
  • the center chart looks like a bar chart, but it isn't.  It's a graph.  This fact never really translated to the kids.
  • the area of the center chart throws the kids off when they compare it to the first and third chart.
  • the kids dive into making this chart without fully digesting the scenario (like considering which way is +, what is your system, which way is each object moving...)
  • the kids forget that momentum is the area of the first and last bar chart.
I have tried to emphasize the key elements of the IFF charts, modeling them briefly and then providing thorough, slow practice to start, requiring the digestion of every aspect of the process.  It hasn't helped.  In energy, the LOL charts click with the kids almost instantaneously.  Not these.  I NEED a new chart.  I did some internet browsing and was intrigued by the SOS chart.  Then after weeks of sketching out some options, I came up with the BDA chart (B = Before, D = During, and A = After).
BDA momentum chart disanto physics

filled out BDA momentum chart disanto physics
With this chart, I am striving to encourage the thorough digestion of the scenario with a more deliberate understanding of how momentum is determined.  I don't want my students to just take an area because that seems like a good idea.  I want them to know that momentum is determined by taking the product of mass and velocity.  Further, I really like that they need to state the system as part of the chart.  I enjoy this so much in the LOL that I wanted it with momentum too.  I also really like having the modified FBD (free body diagram) in the chart to hopefully make the question of whether the system is isolated or not more transparent.  I have NO idea if this chart will be better or worse.  I'm actually rather nervous it will bomb.  I'll let you know how it works out :)

Update my "online grading system"

In this past post, I wrote in detail about my student tracker sheets (summary of a student's skill scores which are shared with each individual student) which are linked to my gradebook.  This year, I'm going to have the student tracker sheets link to my gradebook even more completely.  I'm striving to have ALL of the student scores for each skill automatically populate in the student's individual trackers the moment they are entered into my gradebook.  This required quite a lot of programming in Google Sheets, but I THINK everything is in working order.  Here is the updated tracker sheet.
student tracker sheet standards based grading disanto physics
All of the scores you see filled in are from my own gradebook.  I used to only provide students with their overall grade.  Now they can see everything!  The only area on the sheet my students can edit is the reassess section in which they can type hypothetical scores to see how their overall average would change with a reassessment.  I'm also really nervous about how this is going to go as programming is certainly not my area of expertise.  But I've already made all of the templates for next year's students and things are running smoothly so far!!

I think this is a pretty good overview of what I've been doing.  As I move into my AP® work for the summer, I will write again!


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