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.

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Day 72: Tests

Today was our last day of class before winter break. In all three of my classes, we wrapped up a topic by taking an assessment.

AP Physics 1: Energy Bar Charts & Unbalanced Forces

I’ve been giving students at least two in-class opportunities on every learning target this year, so this assessment covered energy bar charts and revisited unbalanced forces. Almost everyone improved on unbalanced forces, which is exactly what I want to see!

Physics: Conservation of Momentum

Students took their conservation of momentum test. Students have been saying the bar charts make the math very intuitive, and it definitely shows on the work I’ve graded so far. This is definitely the easiest time I’ve seen students have with momentum.

Chemistry Essentials: Density

This assessment was more hit or miss than my other classes. I had some students who did great, but a few were surprised to see some representations, like particle diagrams and a mass vs. volume graph, that were significant components of our daily work. I’m thinking about doing some individual conferences with students after break to try to get a better understanding of what’s behind that.

Day 63: Work, Quiz, & Histogram Interpretation

AP Physics 1: Work

To introduce work, I had students pull a cart up a ramp to a consistent height, but changing the angle. They then sketched force vs. distance graphs and saw the area was pretty consistent.

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Physics: Quiz

We wrapped up Friday’s mistakes whiteboarding, then moved into a quiz on impulse. I’m finding students are loosing track of the different variables we have, which is making it tough to use the equations accurately. I think we might take some time soon to do a “glossary” of all the variables we’ve gotten so far this year to see if having a reference like that helps.

Chemistry Essentials: Histogram Interpretation

To wrap up Friday’s labs on mass and change, I projected some histograms of the class results. The discussion ended up being a lot of me asking a question, followed by one student responding, which is not what I like to go for. I need to spend some time thinking about better prompts I can use on these graphs to get more student-to-student discussion going.


Day 62: Quiz Day, Mistakes Whiteboarding, & Burning

AP Physics 1: Quiz Day

Students took their unbalanced forces quiz. I included an experimental design problem from the 2016 AP Physics 1 exam but told students I was essentially using it as a pre-test since I haven’t had them try any of that sort of problem yet and want to see how well they are translating what they’ve done in the lab to written problems.

Physics: Mistakes Whiteboarding

Students did some mistakes whiteboarding with yesterday’s problems. I was wary of how it would go in my 6th hour, since I only have eight students and they chose to work in one large group yesterday. There was a lot of great conversation yesterday, but it turns out a lot of students had written down steps without being clear on why they were taking that step, so this was a good opportunity for students to clarify those gaps.

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Chemistry Essentials: Burning

Students carried out the experiments they’d planned yesterday to see how mass changes during dissolution. Afterward, they burned steel wool on a balance to get one more example. On Monday, we’ll discuss the results. I collected all of the changes in mass in a spreadsheet to produce class histograms of the results that we’ll also discuss on Monday.


Day 53: Day Before Break

Today was the last day to submit work or complete retakes before the end of the term and our last day of classes before Thanksgiving break, so it was a very chaotic day.

AP Physics 1: Whiteboarding

Students wrapped up presenting the whiteboards from yesterday. There was some really great discussion, with students making use of the matter model and connecting to the collisions we’d tested out a few days ago.

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Physics: Whiteboarding

This class also worked on wrapping up whiteboarding some problems. My 6th hour had a really tough time focusing, which was not surprising the last hour of the day before a break. While we still got where we needed to, I don’t think a whiteboard discussion of problems was the right call for today.

Chemistry Essentials: Quiz

Students took their quiz on naming and formula writing for ionic and covalent bonds. Since it was fairly short, we spent some time before the quiz whiteboarding a few practice problems. A few students were focused on last-ditch efforts to raise their grade, and it was tough to re-direct them to the day’s activities. This will be something to think about at the end of next trimester.

Day 45: Quiz, Force Representations, & Bonding Intro

I had a sub today, so no pictures. I’ll find out Monday how things went.

AP Physics 1: Quiz

Today’s quiz was maybe closer to test length. I included the notorious bumpy ramp problem (which I really love); my students are still uncomfortable with problems that don’t reflect something they’ve already seen, so I think this will be a great one to have some discussion on how students approached it.

Physics: Force Representations

Students worked on some problems extending the representations we’ve been using for forces to unbalanced forces. I’m hoping this will be a relatively small leap. It occurred to me this worksheet could have been a nice card sort, but I didn’t think of that far enough in advance to get copies run and cut, plus I’d prefer to be in the classroom myself the first time my students complete a new card sort.

Chemistry Essentials: Introduction to Bonding

Students worked on a worksheet designed to bridge what they know about the Bohr Model to bonding. Students also took a quiz and, since students had a really tough time working on something new after last week’s quiz, the para, my co-teacher, and I all agreed to try putting the quiz at the end of the hour this time.

Day 35: Assessment, Board Meeting, & Two Truths and a Lie

AP Physics 1: Assessment

After wrapping up yesterday’s whiteboards, students took their quiz on impulse and momentum conservation in collisions. One of the things I love about giving this assessment is a lot of students felt much more confident than on the assessment on impulse of a single object, in spite of it being the same material in a more complex situation. Its a great opportunity for students to see their growth so far.

Physics: Board Meeting

We had the board meeting for the spring force lab. I’ve been hitting “for every” statements about the slope much harder and more consistently this year than in the past, and I’m seeing students with a much stronger conceptual understanding of what their slopes represent, which is fantastic.

spring wb

Chemistry Essentials: Two Truths & a Lie

After going over some key periodic trends and how to read a periodic table, I used a variation on a community-building activity that we frequently use in homeroom called “Two Truths and a Lie”. Each group came up with two accurate statements, and one wrong statement. Groups then traded whiteboards and had to correct the wrong statement. A lot of groups had some good discussion and seemed to get more comfortable reading their periodic table, which was the goal.

w truths

Day 33: Problems, Board Meeting, & Assessment

AP Physics 1: Problems

Students worked on some conservation of momentum problems, including Michael Lerner‘s watermelon on wheels, that require them to be flexible about the system they are using. A lot of groups went straight for a whiteboard once the work time started, which lead to some great discussion and collaboration on the problems.

Physics: Board Meeting

We had a board meeting for yesterday’s force of gravity lab. This was actually the first traditional formula students got from a lab this year. During the discussion, I could tell my students are getting much better at making “for every” statements about the slope and describing the meaning of the intercept.

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Chemistry Essentials: Assessment

Students took their quiz on phase changes. One problem talked about a generic chemical, rather than something specific, which threw several students off. It was a good reminder to keep problems firmly rooted in real situations. Afterward, we revisited the mystery tubes from the first day of class as preparation to start talking about the periodic table and atomic models.

mystery tube

Day 28: Assessment, Card Sort, & Phase Changes

AP Physics 1: Assessment

Students to a quiz on free-body diagrams and momentum, which ended up taking a much bigger chunk of the hour than I’d hoped. In one of my classes, students are starting to ask for reading strategies for deciphering problems, which is great. I tend to get a lot of students who are very strong readers, so I usually wait until there is a problem on an assessment that a lot of students clearly got wrong because of reading to ensure students see a need for reading strategies, but since my students are self-aware enough to realize they could use some new strategies before its an issue, I’m happy to start in on those strategies early.

Physics: Card Sort

Students did a balanced forces card sort from Kelly O’Shea, with a lot of influence from Richard Wright, though I left out the system schema that Michael Lerner added. Before the card sort, I spent some time talking about system schema and free-body diagrams, but left my students to figure out the vector addition diagrams in the card sort. In my 1st hour, this went really well; there were great conversations, and my students seem to really get vector addition diagrams. In my 6th hour, things were much rougher; they tend to be less focused (its like they’ve had five classes before mine or something) and I could tell they hadn’t gotten as much out of yesterday’s interaction stations, which made it very tough to build on today. In general, I think I need to do a better job of adjusting to my 6th hour.

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Chemistry Essentials: Phase Changes 

Students collected temperature and time data for lauric acid as it went from solid to liquid and back again. The data collection requires constant stirring and recording the temperature every 20 seconds, but the graph comes out really nice.

lauric acid

Day 26: Problems, Bowling Balls, & Assessment

AP Physics 1: Problems

Students worked on a mix of problems on impulse and on using formulas for types of forces. During the second part of class, students whiteboarded problems for a gallery walk.

ap wb

Physics: Bowling Balls

Today was bowling ball day! Students worked through Frank Noschese’s bowling ball and mallet activity.¬† After getting a class rule so far for taps and bowling ball motion, a few students commented it reminded them a lot of Newton’s 1st Law from 9th grade physical science. Imagine that!

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Chemistry Essentials: Assessment

Students took their gas laws quiz today. Last year, I was pretty good about planning some kind of activity for after the assessment. About half my students take the assessments in a pull-out setting and many of them need more time than the students who stay in the classroom, so I did a lot of nature of science-type activities with students in the classroom while pull out students finished their assessments. I’ve been dropping the ball on that and need to get back into that routine. The students who stayed in the classroom weren’t getting into trouble when they finished, but I’d prefer to have something worthwhile for them to do.