Physics & Physical Science Demos, Labs, & Projects for High School Teachers

Archive for November 2011

Lame graphic, I know. Sorry.

As I mentioned in my 3-part update, my students absolutely love SBG in Calculus and have requested I move the system into my Physics classes as well.  However, after studying the problem at length, I have to take the tact that Frank took.  SBG as it is implemented in my Calculus isn’t a clean fit in Physics.

I’ve had to make some modifications, and I’m pretty sure there will be modifications in the future.  Instead of solving two problems perfectly to achieve mastery, Physics students will have three, but they will be tiered.  Here’s how it’s going to work:

  • Most concepts will have three levels of problems: C-level, B-level, and A-level.
  • Students must get a C-level problem perfect to take a B-level quiz.  The B-level problem must be perfect to take the A-level quiz.
  • If they get the C-level correct, they earned a 75% in that concept.  A correct B-level gives them 85%, and a correct A-level problem boosts the concept score to 100%.
  • C-level problems are basic.  Everyone should be able to solve them.  B-level problems are a little more advanced, but everyone should be able to get these correct with practice.  A-level problems are challenging and most of the class will not get these unless they really put in the work.
  • The 4 point grading system in still in effect, there is no partial credit.  This makes grading much quicker.  A 2 on a C-level is worth 60%, a 3 is worth 70%.  (UPDATE Feb 2012)  A 3 on a B-level problem is worth 80%, and a 3 on an A-level is worth 90%.

Quiz day will not have a standard group quiz.  I have lots of 1/2 page concept quizzes.  A student gets the quiz level for each concept based on what they have mastered.  Yes, this is a hell of a lot more work, but my classes are small.

Here is how I divided up the concept “Upwardly Launched Projectiles:”

  • A C-level problem is a projectile launched and landing on the same level.  They are given an initial velocity and an angle.  They have to find the time in flight, max height, and range.
  • A B-level problem involves different elevations for the launch or landing, or a building or mountain to hit or go over.
  • An A-level problem requires more math, like simultaneous equations or the quadratic to solve for initial velocity.

Points for the concepts are going to vary based on the depth of the concept.  Projectiles will be worth 50 points while Relative Motion is only worth 30 points.  Some of the topics will only have two levels, a B-level and an A-level, simply because there isn’t enough difficulty to warrant three levels.  But those levels, like relative motion, will also not be worth as many points in the system.  I’m still keeping grades for  Homework (5 pts), Labs (25 pts), and the occasional WebAssign (around 15 pts).

We had our first quiz today and it went well.  A few of the better students got 4’s on the C-level problems.  I was able to grade about 15 full quizzes in under 15 minutes because of the 4-point system.  I was also able to be a real stickler on the significant figures because the kids have time to correct their mistakes and get it all right.

I’m incredibly optimistic about the change.  The students are a bit nervous, but they’ve heard so many good things from my calc kids that they know this is going to work to their advantage.  I know they will be doing a lot more work and keep at the lessons longer than they would under a normal grading system.  I’ll keep everyone apprised.

What’s New in 2013/2014?

Every year brings a change, this one is no exception.

I will be picking up the sophomore honors Algebra II class to keep them separate from the juniors. This should help accelerate them and put them on a stronger track towards Calculus. Looks like there will be only one section each of Physics and Calculus, but still two of Robotics & Engineering.

Hot topics this year are going to be the Common-Core Standards, Standards-Based Grading (SBG), improving AP Calculus scores, and somehow adding Python, maybe as a club.

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November 2011
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