What Ifs and Why’s

https://i2.wp.com/www.rovio.com/img/angrybirds_big.jpgAngry Birds in my Physics 20 class was an absolute hit! We were focusing on activating the prior knowledge of the students – what physics do you already know? As well as, working on our question asking and prediction skills today through the medium of angry birds.

Here is the link of the ‘worksheet’ I gave the students.

I walked the students through an example, explained the task, and let them loose. They were SO engaged. I thought there would be a lot of students off task (just wanting to play the game) but they were all focused. Eventually, the short discussions turned into… “Oh I didn’t expect that,”, “Ok, so why did it do that?” and “Wait! But what if we did this instead” and the absolute best, “Hey Man, don’t do it until I’ve made a guess about what’s going to happen – you ruined it!”

This link will take you to the questions that the students posed to eachother.

After the students had finished there exploration, they were given a 1 page reflection on the following question:

In terms of Physics, how do you think the angry birds universe is similar to our universe? How is it different? Use 2 – 3 of your question, predictions, and explanations to support your answer.

So far, I have yet to read the reflections, but I am VERY excited to see what they come up with!


Cautiously Optimistic

Tomorrow, I try my second shot at this initial implementation of my ‘Let’s think Physics’ project – introducing problem-based learning. The goal tomorrow, is to have students asking ‘what if’ questions. I want the students to ask the questions, predict their response, test, and reflect. I am going to attempt this with the medium of Angry Birds.

The funny thing with this class, is that my students all have an understanding of Physics – 23/32 even managed to write a full page about what they know. WOW! For never having taken a ‘physics’ course, they REALLY do have previous knowledge… and the best part, is they have tapped into it.

I’m nervous and excited for tomorrow’s class. The students are already excited for Angry Birds – so yes. the research on connections was helpful 🙂 . Hopefully I learn something 🙂

Much better…

Today was MUCH less chaotic. Technology was solved and we were off to a much better start. [With the exception of the speed of our internet server but we did have 32 students + me using the same site 🙂 ].

We had a good discussion regarding “What is Physics.” Students were given access to a Google Document and as a class we compiled our responses. This document was also available for them to write as we discussed as a class, watched various videos, and I taught some basic concepts. The document is here. I actually found that brainstorming this way was much less intimidating for my students (especially in such a large class…). Granted, I would prefer a Social Media medium, but students needed a break from technology talk and they WANTED to get into the physics stuff.

At the end of the class, I had students write and submit a 1 page response to “What is Physics”. Some struggled, but I found that they were much more open to this question than previous years where I haven’t done the discussion portion. This is also interesting, since most of my students said they were only able to write one line about this question when given the survey below on day one of the class.

What is Physics? (Click to enlarge)

I informed the students that they would be asked the same question (What is Physics) 2 – 3 times throughout the year and we would compare their answers. They felt that this would be really interesting, since they figure they don’t really know what Physics is right now (even if I disagree with that).

So, the moral of the story is, Physics was less of a problem over the last two days than the technology was 🙂

Moving forward?

Today, in my Physics 20 class, I had a terrible teaching day. Everything went wrong. 32 students in a computer lab is never fun and technology DID NOT make my life easier. From setting up various accounts to students shutting down from frustration (yes, early warning sign in physics)!

After it was all said and done, I had about 2/3 of my class on Google+. Then, I realized that due to an external factor, I couldn’t even use the damn program to teach!!!!! I wasted an hour of instructional time on an unusable tool. I felt incompetent as a teacher and completely out of place in a master’s program for that matter.

Being a teacher, I’ve reconciled this issue and I have a new (simpler) plan of attack for tomorrow. I am still able to use some of what we covered today, so at least it wasn’t a total loss.

I am extremely worried about this project after today. Can I possibly handle differentiated approaches to physics and reflections of 32 students?!? What do I do when a student shuts down due to external factors I am using… do I continue pressing the Physics?

I know these questions will work themselves out, but for a day 1 of a master’s project, I guess I am realizing just how messy Action Research really is!

What You Feel…

Today I was watching Criminal Minds, and the character, Aaron Hotchner, said I line that got me thinking. He said,

“What you feel is just as important as what you think.”
Now, me being as imperialist as they come, I tend to neglect the emotional side of pretty much anything and focus on the facts. However, this past year in my master’s courses I have been learning to think with ‘both’ sides. The beauty and simplicity of this ideal didn’t strike me until I heard ‘Agent Hotchner’ say his aforementioned line.
Criminal Minds tv show photo
Thus, this fall, I want to try to adopt this mantra within my classroom for my problem-based learning. In my physics classroom, I want my students to really UNDERSTAND physics and science – I have already established that this needs to be done with previous experiences, but it is also important that students reflect on the information internally. How do these ideals make you feel? Why? What can we do with that information as well as the factual information you’ve explored?
I wonder how my Physics students will react to the question, and how does that make you feel? 🙂

20 time – Your own time for learning

20 time – Your own time for learning.

I absolutely love this idea… Google has come up with some of the most creative and innovative practices simply by giving their workers time to explore. (This was previously discussed in my post Purpose or Mastery… watch the video for some extra background).

Being that I plan to explore the addition of problem-based learning within my classroom, I am strongly considering adding some form of ’20-time’ into my classroom, particularly after my students begin exploring their areas of interest and understand what it means to learn science in a problem-based paradigm.