Physics Family Day!
Lesson 1 of 10
Objective: Students will develop relationships with their base groups that will build a foundation for future social skill activities.
When students enter they room, they are typically eager to hear how they did on the quiz. When I return quizzes and tests, I begin by giving an overview of what students did well on and did not do well on as a whole. After going through a couple of points, I pass back the quizzes and allow students a few minutes to read through my comments.
Students look over their work. Before they hand back their quizzes, I discuss the remediation and retake process in my classroom, one suggested by the school district. I allow students to come in and retake any assessment. In order to take a retake quiz they must rework each incorrect answer. I require students to come in during a free period or before or after school to complete this remediation. For each question, the students must write a sentence of why they chose the answer the chose or explain the work that they did. Then they must write a sentence that explains the correct answer. After they have finished the remediation, I read through what they write and ask questions about anything that I see they did not do correctly or that I want them to reiterate to me verbally. If students still need practice, I give them extra practice worksheets to complete prior to the retake.
M & M Get to Know You
This activity is one of my favorite "get-to-know-yous" that I save for when my students meet their Physics Families. I base my Physics Families on Johnson and Johnson's base groups from their work on cooperative learning techniques. I use base groups mainly for social skill development. In a cooperative learning classroom, base groups are usually a weekly meeting with a group of three to four students that do not focus on academics. When students are in their Physics Families, they participate in a range of activities from team building activities to leadership exercises to social skill development.
This group stays together all semester or year (depending on the length of the course). I have found that taking time out of the week to let students do activities in their base groups makes them much more comfortable working in other groups and ultimately helps students focus and learn more when they are in groups. The main goal of these groups is to help students to develop relationships with other students so that they can be successful in understanding and applying science concepts in any situation. The skills that they will gain experience with and a level of comfortability with would be the science and engineering practices that deal with asking questions and defining problems (SP1), engaging in arguments from evidence (SP7) and obtaining and communicating information (SP8) because they all deal with communication between students.
I create the Physics Families before class; I show students the list of everyone and then have them find their new Family "home" every Monday first thing of the period. After they have found their tables, I ask them to introduce themselves to their group and state one interesting fact about themselves. After students have done that, I have one member come up to the front and get a container of M&M's and a napkin to bring back to the table. I have them pour out the M&Ms onto the napkin and then split them into three or four piles (depending on the number of students in their group). Then I project the M&M Activity slide. I tell students that before they eat an M&M they must state whatever that color represents. For example, when picking a yellow M&M a student would state his or her favorite T.V. show or movie and then eat an M&M. My students like this activity because they get to eat M&Ms. In addition, this is low-risk way for them to share information about themselves.
The goal of the Physics Families is to help students work on skills like teamwork, habits for success, collaboration and respect for each other. Throughout the year, students meet in Physics Families every Monday for about 10-15 minutes and complete an activity as a class fosters one or more social skills. I put Physics Families on Monday because usually students don't look forward to coming back to school after the weekend; putting Physics Families first helps students look forward to the week before they get into the content of that lesson. In addition, by working on their collaborative skills, students become helpful group members in the classroom.
Family Puzzle Creation
After students have learned more about their group members through the M&M Activity, I have them work on a puzzle for their Physics Family. Each group gets one four-piece Puzzle Template where each member has his or her own piece of the puzzle. To begin the activity, I ask each group member to draw on their piece at least three different pictures to represent himself or herself. I request that when everyone is done drawing their pictures they must share with their group their reasons for drawing those pictures. When all of the pieces of the puzzle are complete, I have them pin their puzzles (Family Puzzle, Family Puzzle 2) to the Physics Families bulletin board in my classroom so everyone can what other groups have done in their Families.
On the previous Friday, I had students self-assess (CCRS Individual and CCRS Individual Questions) where they thought they were in my class on the Career and College Readiness Standards; they had made Looks Like, Sounds Like Charts for these standards earlier in the year. After my students self-assessed, I marked where I thought they were in my class. When they are in their base groups, I have the distributor pass out the individual student rating scales with my marks on them. Then I have them look at them in their Physics Family group and average out how their family did based on my marks for each skill.
Once students have finished averaging out their skills, I have them graph them at the top of the group Career and College Readiness Skill Scale page. After all of the graphs are complete (CCRS Group), I have them answer two questions: (1) What are the strengths of your group? (2) What could you do to help each other improve in the next 2 weeks? I do this because I want students to help other students in my class stay on track with their social skills as well as their academics. Making students accountable for their actions really helps students to understand that these behaviors are important.