Monday, June 23, 2014

Modeling Workshop Day 3

Day 3 - a great day, kind of a hard one but a good one!

We started out the day discussing the reading from last night.
The first was from chapter 1 of Arons.  It dealt mostly with the importance of proportions and the "for every" statements.  This is huge to develop conceptual understandings of anything!  Any teacher who has really tested their students knows that they all struggle with proportions.

This is the why I feel that the suite of variation and measurement labs that we did on the first day is so critical for a good understanding of physics concepts later.

One of the most important things that a teacher can do during any class period is to check for understanding.  This can happen in myriad ways.  The easiest of which is to just ask them.  But you've got to be ready for them to NOT know...that is the hard part and why (I believe) most teachers don't routinely check for understanding; they aren't ready for the students to be clueless.  This would open up a huge can of worms; they would have to admit that the methods they were using were ineffective and they would have to admit that they didn't necessarily know how to change their instruction to do better.

We need to put the kids in a position to find out what they do and do not understand.

The second reading was the guest comment by Lilian McDermott.  I like this one because she highlights the mismatch between the way that students learn and the way that we've traditionally taught physics.  The participants talked a lot today about teaching the way that we were taught.  Our problem is that we don't necessarily know better methodologies.  Welcome to the modeling workshop!

In class today we started out with a little sensor work - a getting to know you with the motion detectors.  the participants did very well.

Then they finished all 5 worksheets from unit 2.  Laura had them put worksheets 4 and 5 on white boards and did a board meeting.  There was a lot of discussion about the last dot, what the dots meant and intervals vs. instants.  I was happy that the discussion very well modeled the actual student discussions about the same white boards.  That will give the participants some experiences that will be invaluable.

After that I did a CVPM wrap up.  The wrap up is a good way to help the participants (and eventually students) to see how the parts of the model fit together.

When we finished I was anxious to start unit 3.  So we set up the ramps, got out some carts and they did the unit 3 paradigm lab.

I love the way that we did this.  About 8 years ago I realized that the best way to get position vs. time data AND connect it to the buggy lab is to use a track and plot the points of a cart rolling down the ramp.  The participants loved it but are worried that we were able to get good data but students might not be.

I am confident that their students will, with only a little bit of supervision, get the good data that they all got.


Doug Damery said...

Thanks for another great day, Don.

Steve Dickie said...

Hey Don,

I've been loving the day by day posts. Please keep doing them!

One comment on the ramps with carts lab. This year I ended up with better data than I'd had in the past. This year we used 1" ball bearings in the groove on the track rather than the carts.

The result was a lower, but still constant acceleration. You could use really small ramp angles and still get really consistent data.

Of course the better results could have also come from me just being pushing for better data from my students as well.

Steve Dickie said...

I also wanted to thank you for the comment on the checking for understanding and why we as teachers are hesitant to do it. I really like the way you put it.

Unfortunately, many teachers wouldn't see the cluelessness in their students as their own fault, but the fault of the students. People tend to miss their own weaknesses and instead focus on the weaknesses they see in others.

Don Pata said...

Steve - I am glad that someone is reading these! Although it is just as important that I do these for me. Because I'm not working with Laura Ritter this year I have to think about and remember so much stuff on my own.

I love this idea of the ball on the ramp. I'm going to have to suggest it to the people.

Don Pata said...

I totally agree with your comment about the clueless-ness of some teachers.

How many teachers would really blame the students? Too many.

However, is this really a blaming of the students or more of a "knowing that they are the problem but not knowing what to do about it?"

That is why we have to continue to do PD! There are too many teachers out there who need the help, want the help and don't know where to turn.