I think of Physics as a model-dependent science which gives society insight into the inner workings of our universe. Throughout this course of study students are given the tools they need to become familiar with identifying, creating, and refining models. I believe that to become proficient in the application of physics concepts, students need the ability to internalize understanding and be mentally agile. With this in mind, the first few days of the school year are focused on building the framework for a community of learners within our classroom. I believe that collaboration is an important component of scientific learning.
In this section of the lesson, I have chosen a warm-up activity where students share their hopes and fears in an anonymous manner as a class. I chose to make this activity anonymous because I wanted students to feel safe while expressing their ideas in a new environment. This part of the lesson focuses on creating multiple models of the student-centered information based on the idea that students can trust each other with candid reflections on the collected information. As students enter the classroom, I ask them to follow the projected seating chart on the Promethean board (an interactive white board that uses a pen for input) where students sit in teams of four.
During the first five minutes of class, I hand out a pair of sticky notes to each student. Then, I ask students to anonymously write down one fear and one hope they have for this year's physics class. At the end of five minutes, I collect the notes. During the next section as a class we will separate the sticky notes into categories.
After collecting student information on initial hopes and fears, I introduce students to our standards based grade book(Jumprope) and give students the join code for our website (Edmodo). I chose these tech tools to give students multiple access points to view their progress toward proficiency in a particular standard through the class.
After we have discussed our electronic grade book (see Jumprope Overview ) and class website (see Edmodo Overview), I distribute a ten minute Physics Study Skills Baseline to students; this assessment has questions related to their ability to organize information in a timely manner and to work both independently and collaboratively. Next, I ask students to assess themselves using the provided rubric and paste the results into their notebooks. At the end of this baseline is a rubric that will help students identify areas of strength and opportunities for growth that will help them develop goals for the upcoming school year. Later on in this lesson, I will ask students to create a SMART goal (see SMART Goal Handout) based on their study skill baseline results.
Once the time limit for the warm-up expires, I collect the anonymously-written student fears and hopes and attach the sticky notes to the Promethean board. To categorize student responses, I read a response aloud and then check the remaining responses to see if there are any similar responses on the board. If the responses are similar I will stack the similar responses into a single category to create a histogram of shared hopes and fears for our class. To give students a chance to collaborate with their peers, I hand out handheld whiteboards and ask the students in each group to create a completed graph to represent the information shown on the Promethean board (SP8) within five minutes of hearing the instructions.
After each student team has created a graph, I ask for a representative from each group to present their data to the class. After each team has presented their data, I ask questions about the best practices for presenting data, like having titles, keys, axes labels, etc. (SP4) I use the student responses from my questions on best practices to complete the graph on the Promethean board, making note that the larger graph is a representation of the data, according to our shared expectation of a correctly labeled graph.
Once we are done organizing out fears and hopes, I hand out notebooks, the Physics Syllabus, Physics Curriculum Pages, glue sticks and scotch tape. I take this time to explain the importance of physics lab notebooks as living documents for students to record data, take notes and sketch diagrams. Then I ask students to attach their proficiency and notebook check rubrics into the back cover of their provided notebooks.
Once we are done identifying areas of strength and potential growth, I hand out an activity in which students can learn about their own understanding of physics. I created this Physics Content Skills Baseline tool so that I can get a sense of the students’ current level of understanding. I also want students to have a benchmark that they can use as a starting point for their growth over the course of the school year. I will give the same baseline near the end of the course and give students a report of their academic growth.
After the baseline is handed out, I remind students that this assessment is important, and does not negatively impact their grade. I encourage students to do their best and to answer questions to the best of their abilities. After 30 minutes have elapsed, I collect it to grade in order to create heterogeneous student groups based on ability.
After collecting student understanding checks, I provide students with a variety of materials including a SMART goal template, card stock, markers, and rulers and tasked with creating a visual out of their S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely)(SP2) goal from their skills baseline. I love this activity (see SMART Goal Handout), because students really get into this activity. First, I ask students to write their SMART goals on the center of the SMART goal template. Then, I ask students to write each letter of the SMART acronym on each of the five tabs on the SMART goal template. Then, I ask students to create a visual for each of the SMART tabs. Afterwards, I ask students to fold each tab down and paster the SMART goal template into their notebooks.
I created this activity because I wanted students to become comfortable representing information in multiple ways. For example, I included a writing prompt for each letter in the SMART goal acronym and as well as a sentence template at the end to give students a model for the sentence structure of a SMART goal. Similarly, I included the SMART goal template to give students a visual representation for their SMART goals. I want students to be proactive and to leverage their skills to help them reach goals that they believe are attainable.
To wrap up the lesson, I remind students to go over the syllabus and learning agreement with their parents and to return the signed copy during the first 5 minutes of the tomorrow's class. At the end of this lesson, I hand out a reading on studying physics as independent study that we will use at the beginning of the next lesson.