Day 19: Assessment, Card Sort, & Vocab

AP Physics 1: Assessment

Students took a quiz on impulse which took a lot longer than I expected; a lot of students spent a lot of time staring in confusion. I think spending Tuesday and Wednesday on forces lead a lot of students to forget how to do impulse and momentum, which tells me I need to work on helping them firm up that model.

Physics: Cart Sort Part 2

Students continued Kelly O’Shea’s kinematics card sort. Today, I added in the word cards and had them record a few of their sorts in their packet.

Chemistry Essentials: Vocab

Before today’s quiz, I had each group prepare a whiteboard with a particle diagram for a  different vocabulary term, then had students do a gallery walk.

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Day 18: Practice, Card Sort, & Chemical Changes

AP Physics 1: CVPM and MTM Practice

I am being compensated by Pivot Interactives for participating in a pilot of their chemistry materials.

About half of my students were gone today for a field trip, so I decided to do a lab on Pivot Interactives reviewing constant velocity and impulse since that would be an easy option for absent students to make up. Students analyzed the motion of a puck after a slap shot using CVPM, then analyzed the actual slap shot using momentum transfer.

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Physics: Card Sort

A lot of my physics students were also on a field trip today. After a board meeting on the ramp lab, I gave students time to start a Kelly O’Shea’s kinematics card sort. I left out the blank cards and the word cards today so students only had the graphs. Initially, almost every group just put all of the same type of graphs together, so they had a position vs. time graph category, a velocity vs. time graph category, and an acceleration vs. time graph category. I think this was actually helpful to a lot of students, since it drove home that the graphs were telling them different things about the motion. Once groups showed me their initial sorting, I challenged them to come up with another sorting where they could put two or more graphs of the same type together, which lead to great conversations about what the graphs showed and lots of students working on specific language.

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Chemistry Essentials: Chemical Change

Students did a few different chemical reasons in test tubes to look for signs of chemical changes. I saw some preconceptions coming up that a chemical change should lead to a change in mass, so that is something I need to think about how to address going forward. I think part of that comes from the fact that I referenced burning steel wool as a chemical change early in this unit, when the chemical reaction that formed a precipitate from the same sequence would have been a better choice.

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Day 17: Free Body Diagrams, Whiteboard Prep, & Describing Substances

AP Physics 1: Free Body Diagrams

Students started working on some free body diagrams by diving straight into some mistakes whiteboarding. There was a lot of great conversation about the problems where an object was moving with a constant velocity as students did the expected wrestling with how an object is moving forward without a force in that direction. One of my classes also had some surprisingly good conversation about systems with a problem about an object at rest.

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Physics: Whiteboard Prep

Students worked on their graphs and prepped whiteboards to discuss the ramp lab. With this being their first experience linearizing and their first time using Desmos, it took some time to get the boards ready. I think next year I’d like to introduce Desmos with the buggy lab so there is a little less new material going on in the ramp lab.

Chemistry Essentials: Describing Substances

Students did a worksheet to practice with yesterday’s vocabulary, then I had them prep whiteboards and do a gallery walk to check their work.

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Day 94: Whiteboarding, Bouncy Ball Energy, & Classifying Matter

AP Physics: Whiteboarding

Students whiteboarded their answers to yesterday’s problems. There were a couple of meaty ones on the worksheet, so I had all groups whiteboard the same problem and then we had several consensus-building conversations.


A visual for quantization of charge

Physics: Bouncy Ball Energy

We wrapped up figuring out where a bouncy ball dissipates energy. As part of the follow-up, we dropped a kickball under a motion detector (thanks to Brian Frank for the idea!) to produce energy vs. time graphs and confirm the results from students’ video analysis.

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Chemistry Essentials: Classifying Matter

Students worked on a worksheet to connect particle diagrams to the vocabulary for classifying matter that we introduced yesterday. I also was able to have really good individual interactions with a couple of students I’ve been butting heads with a lot, which helped make the whole classroom feel more relaxed and positive. I’ve been getting overwhelmed in chemistry a lot this year and have not done a good job of making time to talk to students about things besides chem, and I can’t underestimate the value of those conversations.

Day 93: Coulomb’s Law, Dissipated Energy, & Compounds

AP Physics: Coulomb’s Law

Students worked on some problems using Coulomb’s Law. I was surprised at how challenging a lot of students found a problem that deals with the quantization of charge, but there were a lot of great conversations as students worked through that one.

Physics: Dissipated Energy

We moved into the video analysis portion of determining where a bouncy ball dissipates energy (my article about this activity was published in the January issue of The Science Teacher). Before they got their bouncy ball, groups had to tell me what specific measurements they would use from the video analysis; the groups that completed the worksheet from the past few days were very successful while the groups that left big portions of the worksheet blank really struggled. I had one group get really excited watching their video when they noticed the bouncy ball got less blurry at the top of each bounce since it showed the bouncy ball really does briefly stop at the top.


Chemistry Essentials: Compounds
Students observed iron and sulfur, eventually heating it in a test tube to make iron sulfide. They were very into burning the iron and sulfur. Afterward, I used their observations in the lab to introduce vocab for pure substances, mixtures, and compounds.

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Day 43: v-t Graphs, Board Meeting, & Chemical Change

AP Physics: v-t Graphs

Students took their first stab at solving problems for objects with a constant acceleration using velocity vs. time graphs. Groups were consistently getting the problems down pretty quickly, so we did a gallery walk of solutions for these problems rather than a full whiteboarding session. My students with some calculus knowledge are getting genuinely excited about the connections between physics and calc, which is a lot of fun. I also had some students think week talking about how momentum vs. time graphs fit with what we’re doing now, which has me really excited to start the Newton’s 2nd Law lab next week.

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Physics: Board Meeting

Students whiteboarded the results of the force of gravity lab. The results were pretty good and I had some students speaking up who are usually quiet during whole-class discussions. I’m also seeing students get more confident finding the line of best fit and translating y=mx+b into “physics”.

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Chemistry Essentials: Chemical Change

Students did a lab observing several chemical reactions to recognize signs of chemical change. One of the reactions produced a precipitate, and it was interesting that a lot of students were not convinced the precipitate was a solid since it was a fairly fine powder.

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Day 39: Ramp Whiteboards, FBDs, & Electrolysis

AP Physics: Ramp Whiteboards

Since a recent quiz used a free-response problem from the AP Physics exam, I gave students part of the hour to use the scoring guide to review their work. Students seemed to like seeing the level of detail the College Board is after.

Afterward, students prepared whiteboards for the ramp lab we’ve been working on. I made some changes to my approach and can tell I need to do a little more work on helping students interpret the graphs and data tables from the photogates. Overall, results are looking pretty good.

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Physics: Free-Body Diagrams

We discussed some of the interaction stations to get to the point of defining a few key types of forces. Afterward, I introduced them to interaction diagrams and free-body diagrams using the hover puck in an activity adapted from Kelly O’Shea. For the puck traveling at a constant velocity, one of my hours had some really good small group discussion about whether there is a forward force on the puck, though neither class got to a whole group discussion today.IMG_20171102_144515

Chemistry Essentials: Electrolysis

We did a gallery walk to go over yesterday’s problems. I also showed students an electrolysis apparatus to have some conversation about how we know water is two hydrogens and an oxygen.


Day 38: Ramps, Interaction Stations, & Pure Substances

AP Physics: Ramps

Students worked on collecting position vs. time and velocity vs. time data for a cart on a ramp. Based on the questions I was getting during the lab, a lot of groups would have benefited from more discussion about what the photogates were measuring and how that translated into the graph and data table on the LabQuest. I should talk to our tech guy about installing the LabQuest emulator to help facilitate those conversations.


Physics: Interaction Stations

To keep building up the idea of forces, students worked through a series of interaction stations Brian Frank wrote about using a worksheet from Kelly O’Shea. Students got tripped up identifying where the interaction was taking place, mostly because they were overthinking it. Some were bothered that they could see more than one interaction, but only needed to talk about one on their worksheet. Next time, I might make it more open to encourage students to discuss multiple interactions.

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Chemistry Essentials: Pure Substances

Students worked on a Modeling Instruction worksheet differentiating between pure substances, mixtures, compounds, and elements. I like pure substance, mixture, and compound were all motivated by the labs with iron and sulfur, but students had trouble connecting the idea of an element. We haven’t done hydrolysis yet, and I wonder if that might have helped motivate elements.

Day 37: Dueling Buggies, Dueling Fan Carts, & Chemical Change

AP Physics: Dueling Buggies

Students wrapped up the dueling buggies lab practical with very satisfying results. Usually, most of my students look for the intersection of the position vs. time graphs, but this year I had a lot of groups decide to solve the system of equations. I think that is just an artifact of doing the lab later than usual, when students are in the routine of connecting math and physics, and of moving pretty quickly through the CVPM worksheets.


Physics: Dueling Fan Carts

We talked about the rules students had for tapping and motion after yesterday’s bowling ball lab, then moved into a version Frank Noschese’s dueling fan carts. Frank’s activity calls for high vs. off, but I added in off vs. high as a separate scenario to help with the idea of directionality. This is the first time I had groups revise their rule after the fan carts, and I was really pleased with how that went. I think that approach also helped cement the connections between the bowling ball lab and the fan carts, and the connections are something I’ve seen missing so far.

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Chemistry Essentials: Chemical Change

Students heated yesterday’s mixture of iron and sulfur to see if the properties changed. Just about everyone was very excited about using fire, but it was tough to keep them focused on making and interpreting their observations. Since I only had a few questions, I projected them, rather than making a handout, but something about a handout seems to give my students more sense of individual accountability. I think the handout serves as a physical reminder of the questions they need to answer, so I will try to stick with making handouts.

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Day 36: Dueling Buggies, Bowling Balls, & Properties of Mixtures

AP Physics: Dueling Buggies

We did an abbreviated whiteboard session on Thursday’s problems since students had correct answers and were feeling pretty confident on the material. Afterward, we started working on the dueling buggies lab practical. I had several groups decide to have different people try different approaches, then compare answers as a way to check their work. Tomorrow, we’ll actually crash the buggies.


Physics: Bowling Balls

I started class today by talking a little about why I use Modeling Instruction and the kinds of actions that make a student successful in this type of classroom. Students seemed receptive and the atmosphere in the room was much more positive than it has been in a while. I think moving on to forces was a good call.

Students worked on the bowling ball and mallets lab to start building ideas about forces. I also gave students roles within their groups and explained this was to help them learn how to be a productive member of the group, even when they don’t know the answers. Students were much more consistently engaged than I’ve seen this year and a lot of great conversations were happening in groups.


Chemistry Essentials: Properties of Mixtures

As a demo, I asked students to observe properties of water and ethanol before and after mixing. The whole class discussion got a little rocky because a lot of students had great questions and great observations, but it was tough to keep them from talking over each other (or me). That’s something I need to keep working on with this class, but its a good problem to have.

Afterward, students did something very similar with solid sulfur and iron. Again, there were a lot of great observations. Students seem pretty clear on the idea that a mixture has a combination of properties from both materials.

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