Today in Physics we worked on the Unit 1 Quiz. I modified it slightly by adding one questions asking students to differentiate between speed and velocity and on the back I created a motion map and asked students to write a scientifically accurate, yet entertaining story. That was a great idea. The kids liked it and it boosted my morale during grading.
During Geometry we finished the distance formula sheet that I made. I put a picture of the school on the page with a grid overlaid on it (that took forever, I ended up having to put a picture into Word and putting a table in front of it). They totally got into it after I opened up the lesson with a few Dan Meyer-esque questions having them predict various distances around the campus. This was totally a lesson I will repeat next year.
After that we worked on an activity that extended the distance formula to special quadrilaterals. And the students hated it. Applying the distance formula to each side of a quadrilateral is not exactly their definition of a good time. Students started acting out during lecture after we had been working on the same thing for an hour or so, but Instead of complaining I just wanted to take this time to remind my fellow teachers that, when dealing with behavior issues, first look at your practices before you move to the students. That lesson I have today was horrible, I lectured for way too long and the subsequent activity had no real-world connections or interesting connections. I was even bored and I love math. Why are we surprised that our students aren’t interested when we aren’t?
So I scrapped the plan on continuing this lesson next time and am going on to a lesson involving diagonals of polygons that I am much more excited about. Once student’s interest is peaked the behavior issues die out.
Today in class we started working on a modified version of the modeling curriculum’s CVPM practice 2 sheet. I changed in up slightly by moving all of the position vs time graphs from the third practice to the beginning of this one to serve as a review, then had the introduction to motion maps activity at the back. I really liked this series of activities because my students picked up on motion maps quick, while they seemed to need some more practice interpreting position vs time graphs.
In geometry today we talked some more about Euler’s Characteristic and classification of quadrilaterals. We finished the day with the Complete the Quadrilaterals activity taken from Fawn Nguyen who took it from Steward. The students seem to get into this activity, although I still have some that are fighting tooth-and-nail not to have to think critically. Hopefully we can break that, but for some of them it’s looking like its going to be a tough row to hoe.
On another note, one of the biology teachers in the school today came to me and asked me if I could use some Vernier sensors that had been sitting in the biology lab for several years. Uh… Yeah! The sensors have photo gates, force plates, motion detectors, and blood pressure gauges (not really sure how I can use the last item, but never hurts to have them). I was blown away by the awesome find and am planning on using them in a couple of days to get students to act out the motions on given graphs.
Today in Physics we started exploring the Constant Velocity Particle Model with Buggy Lab. With this being my first year modeling I found the lab very beneficial for the students. Before I discovered the modeling curriculum I always wished that I had something hands-on for students to do with this material, since they struggled so much with it. This was clearly the thing. After we finished students were much better at interpreting x vs t graphs; which made the first worksheet of the unit a breeze for many students.
However, one thing I clearly need to improve on is my ability to hold white board meetings. Full disclosure here, I have need been to a modeling workshop, primarily since there aren’t any held in or near Mississippi. But I have done so much work reading blogs, watching videos, and talking with people about the curriculum so I could do it and my students justice. Yet, how to properly hold these meetings is one thing I found that I struggle with. I often get to the point where the awkward silence of students not talking is too much and I break it with a question, which they answer and then again fall silent. Maybe that’s the key, let them sit in that silence until they fix it.
In geometry we began our investigation into special quadrilaterals and ill have to say, I have tried everything I could think of but I just found this material so hard to spice up. I gave them a sheet where they had to classify a large number of quadrilaterals of differing types, but I made the mistake or putting the terms to be defined on the back so many just skipped the front and started defining the terms. Next year I am going to try to cut out some of these and then give them to the students to group.
We did get to go into the Euler Characteristic, which even my harder-to-motivate students found vaguely interesting. I’m hoping I can infuse interesting math topics into the more mundane geometry topics that I have to cover for ACT purposes.
Finally got my physics supplies today, and just in the nick of time. I was running low on activities we could do with spaghetti, meter sticks, tape, and two sets of masses.
I would also like to mention how great it is to have an awesome administration behind you and a good school district behind them. I put in a request for supplies since physics has only been taught once in the past decade at my school and, though it took a while, got all of the items on my list with very few questions asked. It’s awesome when you see school districts putting the students first.
I also wanted to note that after playing with several of my “toys” that a lot of the arbor scientific products were quality items, but also that I was very disappointed with these. I was really looking forward to letting students do some CAPM practicum labs, but these things barely move. There is way to much friction in the axles for them to move freely. I only played with one, but a quick examination of another didn’t look much better. Buyer beware!
Today students used their trig skills to determine the height of the gym and a couple of other things around campus. it’s a pretty classic lab where they create a crude clinometer by taping some sort of mass to act as a plumb to a protractor and then use a straw as a scope. They measure the angle of inclination, distance to object, and their height and then they calculate how tall whatever they are looking at is. Many thought that the activity was pretty cool, and were totally surprised that the gym was only 30 feet tall as opposed to 60 or 70 like they had predicted.
I was more amazed at the large number of students who had a ton of trouble moving the concepts from textbook type problems to real world applications.