Day 83: Whiteboarding & Assessment

AP Physics 1: Projectile Whiteboarding

We finally whiteboarded students’ results from Friday’s projectile motion activity using Pivot Interactives. We also made a lot of references to yesterday’s activity and how it fit with what we saw in the graphs. I always love this board meeting since things just click for students and projectile motion suddenly feels simple to them.


Physics: Bouncy Ball Whiteboarding

Students started whiteboarding the representations they’d sketched yesterday for a bouncing bouncy ball. We were only able to get through the energy bar charts today, but students started to make some connections that will help make more sense of the placed they struggled yesterday, like the v-t graphs.

bouncy ball.jpg

Chemistry Essentials: Assessment

Students took their density retake and their gas laws quiz. It ended up taking the whole hour since we had shortened periods today. A lot of students told me they felt like they improved on density, which was the goal.

Day 82: Projectile Motion Maps, Bouncy Ball Energy, & Density Refresher

Today was another sub day.

AP Physics 1: Projectile Motion Maps

Students worked on an activity based on Dan Meyer’s “Will It Hit the Hoop?” where they analyze a strobe photo of a basketball. I used this activity in Physics last year, which helped students make good connections to motion maps. I’m hoping the same will happen for my AP students.

Physics: Bouncy Ball Energy

Students started working on my lab to determine what dissipates a bouncy ball’s energy. I got through the opening discussion in one section yesterday, but recorded a short video introducing the lab for the other. Last year, I put together a scaffolded worksheet for students to sketch an assortment of representations and highlight the differences between the competing explanations.

Chemistry Essentials: Density Refresher

The density assessment students took before break was rough, I think at least partly because it was one of the last class periods on the last day of classes. My co-teacher and I decided tomorrow’s assessment will include another shot at density along with gas laws. Today, my co-teacher went over some extra practice on density that students worked on yesterday.


Day 81: Assessment & Whiteboarding

AP Physics 1: Assessment

Students took their energy assessment. When they finished, they worked on wrapping up their projectile motion work from Friday.

Physics: Energy Whiteboarding

Students whiteboarded their problems from Friday. Both classes were able to come to a consensus on what the answers should be and why.

Chemistry Essentials: Gas Laws Whiteboarding

We did a gallery walk to go over some gas law problems from last week. The numbers in the problems are pretty extreme to keep the math relatively simple, but that left room for students to be able to focus on what temperature and pressure mean at the particle level and to connect their conceptual understanding to the math they were doing. That’s a trade-off I’m okay with for now.

chem wb.jpg

Day 79: Projectiles, Graphing, & Gas Law Problems

AP Physics 1: Projectiles

Students worked through some questions I got from Michael Lerner to introduce projectiles by having students represent the motion of a falling object using key tools from each of the models we’ve covered so far this year. This day always makes me really happy I wait until the end of linear mechanics to do projectiles.

Ap projectile.jpg

Physics: Graphing

Students worked on finishing up their data collection and graphing from yesterday’s kinetic energy lab. I was really excited about how many students recognized on their own that they would need to linearize this data; even groups that had data that looked fairly linear, which is common with this lab, realized their intercept would make more sense with a parabola than a straight line, which was awesome. January and February are always a tough time of year, and a clear reminder of how much my students have grown so far this year was just what I needed.

Chemistry Essentials: Gas Law Problems

Students worked on solving problems using the gas laws. First trimester, I switched from using the formulas to having students use proportions to solve the problems, which helped make the math more accessible. This trimester, I added a question where students had to determine whether the unknown quantity should increase or decrease based on their particle diagrams, which made a big difference for students when deciding whether to multiply or divide to get their answer.

Day 78: Bouncy Balls, Kinetic Energy, & Board Meetings

AP Physics 1: Bouncy Balls

My article on this lab is in the Jan 2018 issue of The Science Teacher.

Students wrapped up their video analysis of a bouncy ball’s motion and started working on CER statements to answer what interaction dissipates the energy. I ended up doing more coaching than I usually do; I usually manage to squeeze this in before winter break, so I think it was just too long since students had been using free-body diagrams or velocity vs. time graphs. Nevertheless, students got to an answer today which was my goal.


Physics: Kinetic Energy

We had a pre-lab discussion and students collected data to work on a relationship between kinetic energy and speed. I found that a lot of students were confused about how to figure out the kinetic energy of the cart once they got into their lab groups. We went through the calculation during the whole class discussion, but I’m wondering if it would have been worthwhile to get students sketching some diagrams on whiteboards with their lab groups to figure out how they could find kinetic energy to get everyone wresting with those ideas, rather than just the students who spoke up.

ramp lab

Chemistry Essentials: Board Meeting

We held the board meeting for both of the gas laws labs students completed on Pivot Interactives this week. This trimester, my co-teacher and I have been trying to ramp up the graph interpretation we ask students to do, and today was a nice opportunity to see it pay off. Students were very successful at attaching conceptual meaning to the slopes of their graphs and, with a few questions to nudge them along, were also able to connect the intercept of the pressure vs. time graph to absolute zero.

chem board.jpg

Day 77: Bouncy Balls, Mistakes Whiteboarding, & Gas Laws

I dropped the ball and didn’t take any pictures today.

AP Physics 1: Bouncy Balls

A large percentage of my students were on a field trip today. I had the students who were here work on the video analysis of a bouncy ball’s motion.

Physics: Mistakes Whiteboarding

Students did mistakes whiteboarding with energy bar charts.

Chemistry Essentials: Gas Laws

I am as part of Pivot Interactive’s Chemistry Fellows program.

Students used Pivot Interactives to collect data for a relationship between pressure and volume for a bubble in a vacuum chamber.

Day 75: Free Response, Mistakes Whiteboarding, & Vacuum Chamber

AP Physics 1: Free Response

Students worked on a released free response problem, then used a scoring guide to review their work. The problem calls for sketching an energy vs. position graph, which we haven’t used, but a lot of students immediately started sketching energy bar charts and were able to reason out what the new representation should look like based on their work, which was a lot of fun to see.

Physics: Mistakes Whiteboarding

Students did mistakes whiteboarding with yesterday’s problems using energy pie charts. Yesterday, they were very successful at solving the problems and today their confidence started to match.

Chemistry Essentials: Vacuum Chamber

To practice connecting particle diagrams to observations, students sketched particle diagrams and made predictions for various scenarios related to pressure and gas laws, many in a vacuum chamber, then we tested each out and discussed the predictions.

Day 74: Mistakes Whiteboarding, Pie Charts, & Particle Diagrams

AP Physics 1: Mistakes Whiteboarding

Students did mistakes whiteboarding with yesterday’s problems. Energy is clicking nicely for a lot of students, which is great to see. One challenge I’m running into is I’ve got some students who have been struggling to connect variables to physical quantities, and are having trouble making sense of all the different quantities that show up in energy problems. I need to give some thought to how to help these students work on doing more sense making, as well as how I might prevent a similar situation next year.

Physics: Pie Charts

Students worked on some problems sketching energy pie charts. They were pretty successful at identifying the main types of mechanical energy, but placing dissipated energy in the pie charts got tricky. I think my students have a good sense for what the mechanical energy forms are, but not a clear sense of what dissipated energy is. I need to think about how I can help them clarify that idea.

Chemistry Essentials: Particle Diagrams

A lot of my students have been struggling to use particle diagrams in their thinking, so we spent some time today sketching particle diagrams to use the qualitative gas laws we have so far to make predictions about a variety of situations. We also spent some time in whole-class discussion using PhET’s gas properties simulation to define pressure and temperature in terms of particle behavior, which seemed to help.

phet gas

Day 73: Problems, Work, & Gas Laws

Today was our first day back from break.

AP Physics 1: Problems

Students worked on some conservation of energy problems. I had to do some prodding to remind students to start with an LOL diagram, but they got into the swing of things fairly quickly.

Physics: Work

Students sketched force vs. distance graphs for raising a cart to the same height using different ramps in order to introduce the idea of work. Results were a little messier than usual, but I think I didn’t introduce the lab as clearly as usual and my students weren’t as focused as usual thanks to it being the first day back from break. But, we were still able to get the ideas we needed.

fd board.jpg

Chemistry Essentials: Gas Laws

Students made some observations with capped syringes to get a conceptual understanding of gas laws. After a hot glue fail last tri, I glued the caps on with super glue, and the lab worked very nicely. It was really tough for a lot of students to connect their observations to particle diagrams, so I think it would have been worth spending a little more time before the lab revisiting what particle diagrams show.

gas laws

Day 25: Friction, Groupwork Reflection, & Pressure

AP Physics 1: Friction

Students whiteboarded the friction lab from yesterday.  There was some good discussion and I can tell students are getting more comfortable talking about graphs. Its been a couple of years since I last did this lab, and the results are as messy as I remember, but students already seem to have a clearer idea of what the coefficient of friction is telling them, so I think it was worth the time.

friction lab.jpg

Physics: Groupwork Reflection

Today was a quiz day and the routine has become to spend the first part of the hour on an assessment doing some groupwork reflection. I spent some time on discussions about what skills students had used working on certain tasks to reinforce the value of multiple abilities. I have one class that seems to be buying in to valuing multiple abilities more than the other, but I think progress is happening on that front.

Chemistry Essentials: Pressure

To wrap up gas laws, I did a few demos. Before each one, I had students whiteboard a CER with their prediction. My favorite is a demo where I put a pipe between a large and a small balloon with each balloon clamped shut. Students have to predict what will happen when I remove the clamps. The version I first saw calls for putting a very small amount of air in the little balloon, so it isn’t stretching much, which forces air into the big balloon when you remove the clamps. I prefer inflating the small one enough that the rubber has stretched and, when the clamps are removed, the air just stays put in both.

pressure demo