Beginning of September
August has come to a close and we have been in school three weeks. During that time we started our modeling in our Physics classes. When I write “our”, I mean myself and the lead physics teacher Angie Mechler. Yep I finally included your name in my blog.
The modeling has been different in many ways and at times I feel a bit disorganized. In reality I’m not. But the difference in presentation of material and discussion has me changing the way I teach. I do have some moments in class where I would like to take over the discussions instead of allowing the students to formulate their ideas. I think this is hardest part of switching from a lecture based classroom to a modeling classroom. I’m finding students really enjoy the “board” meetings. When we come together to discuss everyone’s ideas and formulate a conclusion, students seem to get a feeling of accomplishment. It’s not the teacher standing up at the board and giving the answers, it’s the students working to solve the problem.
Our first assessment included the introduction topics and math component, some students did well others had a hard time with the math and graphing. We are continuing with the unit and giving extra help for those who need it. We head into scaling and proportionality, while working on graphing skills. Students had trouble with the graphing mixing up the independent and dependent variables. This is not uncommon, or so I have found. Even my Earth Science students mix up the variables in graphing.
On another note I’ve implemented some whiteboarding and modeling in my Earth Science. Actually I would lean more towards whiteboarding and formative assessment. This has been working great with my Earth Science classes. For example, I gave them three questions about Density to answer on their whiteboards. (The class is set up in groups, there are 7 groups with 4 –5 students in each group. ) After roaming the class I found that students knew the formula, but didn’t really understand what the formula meant. Some were confusing mass and weight, others were a bit confused about volume. So we continued discussing the formula breaking it down into its components. I then demonstrated Density by using a density liquid column. Once we had completed that I had students go back and review their answers to the Density questions. We came together and I found that after revisiting the formula and variables about Density they understood it much better.
Pretty much that was the ending to August and now September is on its way. Each day brings new ideas and a desire to try to make learning better for my students.