Sunday, January 31, 2016

And the curriculum development continues...

As I have mentioned previously, the district I work in is currently developing the curriculum for an NGSS physics class.  With any luck, fingers crossed, this class will roll out next school year.

Myself and the two other physics teachers in the district our working with our district curriculum specialist to develop this class.  We have a strategy and method that is working.

At first I was anxious, on multiple levels, for multiple reasons.  Now...I'm excited and overwhelmed.    What I have noticed thus far.

1.  Developing this course has allowed me to assume anything is possible.  It is FUN to be this free.
2.  There is a tremendous focus on conceptual understanding and depth, not so much breadth and math.
3.  The performance expectations really focus on content that effects everyday life.
4.  There is a balance of labs, activities, writing/reading, analysis, etc.  Every day in physics class will be an experience.
5.  The more that we unpack these standards, the more I realize how intricate and well thought out NGSS really is.
6.  Not everyone is on the same page, and understandably so.  Years upon years of teaching have caused teachers to be unwilling to adjust to changing times.  They have a method that "works" and they truly believe that their method is the most effective way to teach.  It will take time and patience for people to adapt.
7.  There is NO book that can drive this course.  It will be up to us to find excellent resources.

The physics team meets again in a week to continue in our efforts.  I am excited to see what we end up making, and even more excited to put the new curriculum to work.  These students will be in for quite an exciting experience.  Makes me kinda jealous.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Image + Text = LEARNING!!!!! (I hope)

The PLC (professional learning community) at my school is taking this semester to focus on student learning using a visual and text.  We were tasked to design a lesson that would incorporate a visual and a text in order to engage students in an excellent learning opportunity.  As a team, we would teach a similar lesson then observe each other in action to focus on student engagement/learning.

Challenge accepted.  Bring it.

Because I'm the only physics teacher at my school site, collaboration can be challenging.  Fortunately I have a co-teacher (a student teacher) this semester, so I can bounce ideas off of him.  WOOHOO! As a science department we kicked around the idea of bringing forth a graph a data, linking that with a reading, and having the students predict something about the graph/data.

I decided to tackle this idea with my AP Physics students and I picked a topic that is still new to me:  angular momentum.

I tweaked, changed, pondered and finally developed the following lesson.

OBJECTIVE:  Students will analyze a visual and text to identify the relationship between angular velocity, moment of inertia and angular momentum.  They will create a model that communicates the scientific phenomenon being observed.

1.  After teaching about angular velocity, students will look at an image of a person doing a back flip and generate a line graph of angular velocity vs time.

2.  They will then read and annotate an article about angular momentum and moment of inertia.  After completion they will answer a few simple questions.  (This will be their first introduction to these terms)

3.  They will create another line graph of moment of inertia vs time of the same back flip image.  (With any luck, they will see the inverse relationship between angular velocity and moment of inertia.)

4.  Then they will create a graph of angular momentum of the exact same image.  (Hopefully they will recognize that momentum is conserved.)

Credit:  Steven Rasmussen
5.  Last but not least, I will tell students to predict what their graphs would like if the person did a back layout instead of a back tuck.

6.  After  a brief discussion, I will wrap it all up with an interactive lecture about angular momentum and moment of inertia.

It hit me that this lesson is drenched in NGSS.  I was able to align it with a performance expectation, easily identifying the crosscutting concept, disciplinary core ideas, and science/engineering practices.  I legitimately got excited about this lesson.  And what made me super excited was that this wasn't that hard to develop.

I will do this lesson next week and will report back on my findings.  I can't wait to see if this inquiry style approach works.  The conceptual understanding that should develop could very well be mind blowing.

FOLLOW UP after Lesson: (2/3/16)
check out the graphs!

SO, a few things that I learned.

1.  Angular momentum is tough.

2,  AP Students read FAST!!!!

3.  Maybe I shouldn't have tried this with such a hard topic.  Angular momentum and moment of inertia are a reallllly challenging concepts (especially since the vector of A.M. is so jacked up).

4.  Students could annotate the hell out of text.  GOOD JOB ENGLISH DEPARTMENT!  I didn't tell my students how to annotate, only asked that they do it and boy, did they annotate.

5.   In order to make it all stick, I had to wait until AFTER my lesson to ask the students to draw how a back layout would effect the graph.  THEN, most kids were able to make all the connections.

6.  I would do this again...because I felt that is was successful.  :)  WIN!

ANNOTATE....oh yeh