AP Physics 1: Buggies
I took a page from Frank Noschese and embraced the idea that “Any lab worth doing is worth doing twice.” I gave groups the very vague directive to collect data on the buggy’s motion, then represent it on a whiteboard and turned them loose. My students seemed very comfortable with the ambiguity and dove right in, which was fantastic. I had a good mix of data tables and graphs on whiteboards, along with a lot of variations on graphs, which led to some good conversation on what would make it easier for us to compare results. Tomorrow, we’ll re-do the lab with a focus on being able to compare results. I talked more than I’d like today, but that’s pretty typical of when I do a new discussion.
Physics: Broken Circles
To start building class culture and learning how to collaborate, I started today with Frank Noschese’s subversive lab groups. Once they were in groups, students did the broken circles activity from Designing Groupwork: Strategies for the Heterogeneous Classroom. Each student got an envelope with pieces of a circle inside. As a group, they had to assemble four complete circles without talking. Afterward, we had some discussion about what skills groups needed to complete the task.
Chemistry Essentials: Mystery Tubes
Today was also about class culture in chemistry. This class also started with subversive lab grouping, but I stepped in more than I did in physics. There were more students in this class who seemed nervous about approaching their peers and it was tougher for them to identify other possible solutions when a group got too big. Afterward, we got out the mystery tubes. I could tell I didn’t make the goal as clear as I sometimes do; while there were a lot of groups who were very engaged and had great conversations, others had trouble getting started.
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