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Mo Physics Mo Problems

As a teacher I like to think of myself as someone who values the process of problem solving rather than the right answer.  But, when I look at the majority of problem sets I assign my students, they simply focus on an getting the right answer. The problems ask only about the end without highlighting the thinking that goes into it.
When I think about all the work we do in our literacy training of analyzing a prompt, that work goes out the window when I give a student a calculation. I am always frustrated when students simply write down an answer to a complex problem without showing the work that went into it. But, I've come to realize that's what my practice problems have trained them to do.
Basically, I've been asking the wrong questions this whole time.
So, I'm rewriting my problems to force students to think through the process and respond.
As a physics teacher, we have a number of formulas that students must choose from to solve a specific problem. What I've found …
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Do Collaborate

Yesterday, I saw two of my favorite people move on to new chapters in their educational journey. Angela Patterson and Kate Sommerville exemplify what it means to be a change agent in education. Their work has inspired my efforts to transform my classroom.  So, what is so special about them? They “do”. They had an idea and they did it.  Their idea was to build a learning community in which each learner's individuality was recognized and celebrated as a source of strength for all. They changed the physical, academic, and emotional space of their learning environment. But, they did it in only a few months’ time. They understood that the perfect moment will never come along and the plan will never be perfect.  It’s the goal that matters. They helped show me that planning is important but the journey doesn’t really begin until you are doing it.
Don’t get me wrong, you need a plan before you do.  Kate and Angela are meticulous planners. But, they move quickly.  If you don’t plan well yo…

A Night for Passions

We had our Personal Learning Project Expo last night.  It was a wonderful way to celebrate all of the learning students did this past term related to their personal passions, many of which tied into the physics concepts we covered in class. Below is a Thinklink with some of the projects from the term. Take a peek at some of the highlights.

There's a lot to think about for next year.  I think still finding new ways to touch base with students during the process is key.  So, formalizing these conversations even more would be beneficial. I really liked incorporating Google Sites as a place for students to collect all of their materials. On their project page, they documented the entire process including:

Driving questionPitch VideoProcess OutlineResearch with SourcesProject LogFinal ProjectReflections The sites were not all well organized and this is something I need to model more. Also, I need to put a bit more thought into what is most informative and beneficial for the logging pro…

Student Presentations in 360°

As we are wrapping up our personal learning projects, we were able to include a new option for presentation.  That is Thinglink VR.  This is the first time I've ever had my students work with Thinklink in the classroom and the VR aspect made it even better.

A handful of students choose this option and a couple completed products are linked below. Note, they are designed to be viewed with VR Googles such as Google Cardboard. So, if you try to view it in non-stereoscopic mode, the hotspots can't be viewed in their entirety. 

To view the images in all of their glory, you'll need a smartphone and a set of googles. Even if you don't have the googles you can follow these steps to view in stereoscopic display.  You just won't get the desired experience.

It was fairly simple to create. Students used Google Drawings to create the background image for the scene.  They then used Google Slides to create each of the individual slides to be each hotspot. As this was our first go ar…

Be Our Guest

Just wanted to announce that we'll be having another student presentation night to end our physics course for students.

It was a great event back in January and I'm hoping this round will be even better.

For more information, please visit our site for the event.  I'll be updating the site with more specifics about projects as we get closer to the day.

Google Keep On Task

As we embark on our passion projects, I wanted to find a way to keep up to date on what my students were up to.  Last year, I had students create task boards using Trello.  While it was helpful in 1:1 conversations, the downfall for me as an educator was the amount of time it took to go into each board to see where students were at efficiently.  Now that Google Keep is a part of G Suite, I've decided to leverage it as a tool.

I use Keep everyday in my life as a task list an note taking tool, but I never used it in my classroom with my students.  The ability to share and label notes makes it quite powerful.  So how am I using it?

Today, I had students create a task list in their Google Keep and share it with me.

I then added a label to all task lists from the same class and archived the list so they wouldn't be in my home Keep page.

During class, I had students begin adding projects tasks to their lists.  Now when I go to that label page in Keep, I can keep up with all of my s…

The Path of the Learner

Learners in my AP class have decided on their driving question for their passion project. Now, they need to start designing the path they will follow. The goal of the passion project is not simply for students to delve into something that they find a connection to.  It is also to provide a framework for that learning.  

Based on the focus of their project students will be choosing one of four possible paths. I'm asking learners to plan out their journey before they begin. We understand the path may change, but I want to emphasize the importance of knowing where you are going so you can adequately monitor, reflect upon, and communicate progress.

Possible Project Paths
Experimentation: Do background research on your problem Take research notes Design procedure Complete procedure Collect data Analyze data Conclude with an answer to your driving question based on your data Clear and creative presentation of data

Making something: Research the design and construction of your product.