In this lesson, students practice their skills of graphical analysis which is a preliminary skill in physics in order to understand many relationships and models of concepts. While practicing these content related skills, I also want my students to gain social skills while working in cooperative groups and the ability to explain their thought process to other students. To do this, I begin class with a jigsaw of the homework.
The jigsaw is a cooperative learning technique typically used to get a lot of information out to students. In this case I chose to use the jigsaw so that students become an expert on a problem and be able to explain it to the rest of their group verbally. By using the jigsaw approach with this worksheet, I see students speaking in ways that they feel confident about the problem they completed by giving a thorough and complete answer and by answering any questions their group members may ask. I have found that when students are forced to explain their thinking that is where they can the most understanding of the process and any areas they may be struggling with.
In this jigsaw, we go over the Graphical Analysis worksheet that they completed for homework after the previous lesson. To set up this jigsaw, I first ask how many students have participated in a jigsaw before. That helps me know how much I will need to be walking around specifically to focus on the technique instead of the content. After that, I tell them to look at the numbers on their tables, where each seat has a number #1-4. Each students is be responsible for the problem that corresponds to their number. Then I tell them they need to find 5-6 people that have the same problem number as they do and they need to come to agreement on what the answer to the problem is. Then they come back to their group and explain their problem and make sure that everyone in their group understands the problem before the next person goes over their problem.
When we do this activity, I give students about 10 minutes with their problem groups and then 20 minutes with their home groups (5 minutes to explain each problem). To get students into their problem groups, I first tell them that each corner of the room is a problem (#1-4). I point to each corner and then I tell them to form their groups in each of the corners. When they are in their groups, they edit the problem on their current problem set. Their task as a group is to come to a consensus on how to do the problem and what the correct answer is. Students edit the answers they have on their homework pages to whatever the consensus of the group is. They also need to teach anyone in their group who did not finish the homework problem how to do it so that every person in their group is able to explain the process to the correct answer to their home group. After 10 minutes, I have students say thank you to each member of their problem group and return to their original table with their home group. At the table with their home group each student gets up to 5 minutes to explain to their group how they got the answer until each member has explained their problem.
Once students complete the jigsaw, I give them an opportunity to review the concepts and build more confidence with the material while working with a partner. I find that working in partners helps them to become more confident with the material because they have someone working with them that they can ask for help if they don't understand. For this reason, I have them participate in the around the room review activity. I put 5 problems as stations around the room. I have 3 sets of stations that are different colors so students stay on the same set of stations to avoid having more than one pair at a station.
I have students pair up with their Speed Dial #7 partner from their cell phones. Once students are standing next to their partners, I tell them to come up to get one piece of paper that they will write on. Before they come up, I also tell them that they will switch roles for each problem. The roles are: one person reads the problem out loud and the other person writes down the answer. I like to provide my students with roles so one person is not just sitting around with nothing to do. By giving them a role, it helps them become more engaged. In this case I want students to alternate roles because I want both students to practice writing down the models and relationships to make the process more concrete for them. I think having the students use one sheet of paper gives them a shared resource and forces them to rely on each other to get through the activity.
When I have students come get the piece of paper I tell them what color stations they are assigned to and to pick a station that no one is at yet. Once all of the students are at their first station, I set a timer that is shown on the projector screen for 3 minutes. I tell students they must answer the questions with their partner and they must stay at that station until the time is up. After the time is up, I tell students if they are at A to go to B, B to C, etc. They rotate and the time starts again. They repeat this until they have been to all of the stations. When they are done, I have them sit next to their partner as I show the answers on their screen so they can see how they did. The Stations Review KEY is attached as a resource, but must be downloaded to be viewed fully. After I show each problem, I ask the students to give me a thumbs up if they got all of the problem correct, thumbs to the side if they got most of it correct and thumbs down if they got most of it incorrect. This gives me a visual check of how they did and if they are ready for the quiz.
I remind my students that they will have a quiz on graphs the next time class meets. The quiz that they will take will encompass all of the material in the learning targets which includes: independent, dependent and controlled variables, creating properly label graphs, writing mathematical models and variable relationships about graphs and completing analysis questions using graphs.
One way I like to have students prepare for quizzes and assessments is by completing their third self-assessment of the learning targets. I give students a chance to rate themselves on each target in the same document they have been using the whole unit. Through this process students learn about which targets they still do not feel comfortable with and the areas that they should focus on, which helps them study for the test and also, I have found, boosts their confidence. It also serves as a nice marker for learning over the course of the year, as students can reflect back on their growth. Furthermore, as a teacher I value this type of information as it provides me a sense of where students are at and how they perceive their own learning progress throughout the unit and throughout the year.
When I have students rate themselves, I give them silent time to read through each learning target and mark themselves as a 1-4 according to the rating shown in the Communication in the Classroom lesson. It also is nice for the students to have when they get their quiz returned to them so that they can see if their rating was accurate to how they scored on the test. By this point in the year students feel comfortable with rating themselves, as this was something we covered extensively in the Communication in the Classroom lesson.