Day 124: Spring Problems & Mistakes Game

Physics: Spring Problems

Students worked through a Modeling Instruction worksheet using forces and energy to analyze the motion of a spring. The worksheet has students define h = 0 in a way that gives a negative gravitational potential energy at one extreme of the spring’s oscillation, and my students struggled with what a negative potential means. Both for cases like this and for negative electric potential differences, I need to adjust my energy unit to include some scenarios with negative energies.

Chemistry: Mistakes Game

Students whiteboarded yesterday’s problems balancing chemical equations, including intentional mistakes to help spur discussion. A lot of students were gone yesterday for a blood drive, and this seemed to help them get caught up. Tomorrow, they’ll be taking a quiz on balancing, so I took some time during class to do a practice problem under quiz-like conditions. Last tri, the chemistry students who did poorly in the class tended to have trouble self-assessing and would equate having an answer with understanding the problem, even when the answer was just copied from a classmate. I have some students who look like they could go down the same path this tri and, after the practice quiz, they were interested in how to improve their understanding before tomorrow’s quiz. While this is a step in the right direction, my real challenge is to help these students self-assess much earlier in hopes of helping them shift their habits in my class.

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