Modeling Motion Using Motion Maps And Position vs Time Graphs

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Students will compare and contrast motion maps and position vs. time graphs.

Big Idea

The shape of a position vs.time graph depicts how fast and in which direction an object travels.

Warm Up

5 minutes

At the beginning of each lesson, I have a quick bell-ringer activity to get students focused on the tasks for today's lesson. There is a slide with the date, the objective and an additional prompt projected on the interactive whiteboard with a red label that says "COPY THIS" in the top left hand corner. Sometimes the additional prompt is a BIG IDEA for the lesson, or the Quote of the Day or a Quick Fact from current events that is related to the lesson. The red label helps my students easily interact with the information as soon as they enter the room and avoids losing transition time as students enter the classroom. 

Today's Big Idea is that the shape of a position vs. time graph depicts how fast and in which direction an object travels. I choose this Big Idea because students often get caught up in the idea of that is a single correct answer and do not really focus on analyzing their data. I really want students to consider multiple ways to represent that data, not just on the numerical solution to a word problem. 

Looking at Motion Maps

15 minutes

During the first five minutes of this portion of class, I give students a focus question to analyze in their notebooks. In this section of the lesson I ask students to share their answers to the question "How would you describe the position of a car moving with a constant velocity over time?" First the students write their answers in their notebooks and then they share their answers with their station partners.

At the end of five minutes, I call on a representative from each table to share his or her answers with the class. This part of the lesson focuses on asking specific question to activate prior knowledge and help students make connections between various concepts we have covered so far in the semester.

During the next five minutes I use the interactive whiteboard to project notes which Introduce Motion Maps . Motion maps are a visual representation of an object's motion at various times.  During this section of the lesson I use the interactive whiteboard to project examples of motion maps of different scenarios for a car with known velocity on the interactive whiteboard. 

I then spend five more minutes leading students through a set of concepts introduced in the notes and I answer any clarifying questions that individual students may have. This part of the lesson is important to me because I want students to have a chance to clear up any misconceptions before attempting to analyze a reading I provide. The next task in the lesson involves students analyzing a reading using a think-pair-share. It is only later that we discuss as a class a more direct connection between a motion map and an object's position vs. time graph.  

Motion Maps and Position vs. Time Graphs

45 minutes

After I have led a set of Notes Introducing Motion Maps, I use a minute or two to distribute a reading on creating Motion Maps of a Car with Known Velocity. I ask students to spend the next ten minutes annotating and summarize the reading in their notebooks. This activity provides students an additional opportunity to practice modeling the motion of an object with motion maps.

I believe that multiple low-pressure opportunities to practice new concepts help give students with different levels of processing ability the time to reach the same level of understanding of a topic. After ten minutes have elapsed I ask students to discuss their annotations and summaries for five minutes with their elbow partners so that students can add additional annotations to their notebooks based on their discussions with their peers.  While students discuss their summaries with their partners I circulate the room giving verbal and written feedback on their comments and puzzles.

After five minutes have elapsed and we have discussed modeling the different motions of the car from the reading using motion maps, I spend a minute or two to distribute a Worksheet on Motion Maps and Position vs. Time Graphs that asks students to make connections between motion maps and position vs. time graphs. I choose to use this worksheet because I believe that multifaceted models are more likely to be remembered and understood by students.  I ask students to spend the next fifteen minutes working on this worksheet individually.

While students complete the worksheet based on the information from their notes and the reading, I circulate the room and address students concerns as they arise.  I have included an example of student work on the connections between motion maps and position vs. time graphs here. After fifteen minutes have elapsed I ask students to discuss a problem or two with the students at their lab tables and to make any corrections they would like based on those discussions before I collect the worksheets. During the minute of this lesson, I collect the worksheets and ask students from around the room what the found the most challenging about the problems they just completed. 


10 minutes

I provide students with an Exit Slip with a set of writing prompts for a students to self select which level they would like to be assessed. Each level has a set of criteria which spiral out, where students are tasked with constructing definitions, compare and contrast term and communicate their understanding of motion maps and the connection between motion maps and position vs. time graphs.  I ask students to circle one of the three entry levels and write their solutions in the additional white space on the bottom half of the exit slip. Students complete the exit slip without the use of their notebooks and construct working definitions according to prompt corresponding to their self-assessment of their competency level.

To wrap up the lesson, I remind students that I will return the exit slips at the beginning of the next lesson and we will go over the feedback from their exit slips during the beginning of our next class.