Performance Based Assessments and Tasks: Using Angry Birds to Model Projectile Motion

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Students will begin crafting projectile motion presentations to meet the performance-based assessment and task graduation requirement for physics.

Big Idea

Performance based assessments allow students to show proficiency in their understanding of projectile motion in a manner that is authentic and meaningful.


This lesson addresses the RI.11-12.7 standard as a way to effectively compose a scientific presentation based on information gathered from various media and sources. Students research concepts related to projectile motion using the NGSS Practice of Constructing Explanations (SP6) that illustrate key factors that affect the motion of a projectile using Angry Birds as a model. Students begin by creating a multimedia presentation based on a model template. Students use this presentation during their performance-based assessments to demonstrate an understanding of projectile motion. Performance-based assessments and tasks include an oral defense, a research paper, a visual representation of a projectile motion model and a novel task that students complete in real time.  

I assess student understanding throughout the lesson using informal check-ins, and will assess each student's work at the end of the school day. I want students to learn to integrate information from various points of this course into a coherent presentation. This relates to (SP6) because students have to leverage skills like proportional reasoning, lessons from Galileo and construction of a parabolic trajectory to build an effective presentation on the topic of projectile motion using Angry birds as a model. One goal of this lesson is to help students learn that synthesizing information from more than one credible source is an effective way to communicate scientific information. 

Students check the credibility of a source by checking if: 

  • The article from a peer-reviewed journal or published by a well-known publisher
  • The author has been cited by other academics 
  • The content is pertinent to their topic

This is a long-term project, each draft will be due two weeks apart. I give students feedback using comments on their slides. After the third draft, students practice presenting the slides to me at the interactive whiteboard at the front of the room. I write comments on their slides and email them a pdf copy so that they can edit their slides.

Before we transition to the next portion of the lesson, I discuss the results of the previous lesson's exit slip. In particular I note that students highlighted that constructing a projectile's path becomes simple once you identify that the horizontal velocity is constant and vertical velocity changes by 9.81 m/s every second. I ask students to look for and take note of more direct connections between the factors from this week's lessons and the presentation they are constructing during the next few lessons. 


5 minutes

This part of the lesson begins with a routine where students write the objective and additional piece of information in their notebooks as soon as they enter the classroom. Today's additional piece of information is a Big Idea which states that performance-based assessments allow students show proficiency in a way that is authentic and meaningful. The objective of the Bellringer is to give students a clear understanding of the focus of today's lesson.

In this lesson, I want students to get ready to leverage information gathered from their understanding of projectile motion to construct a multimedia presentation. This presentation is the first of three drafts in a larger project that students use to illustrate the connections between Galileo's equation of motion, trigonometry and the factors that affect a projectile's horizontal range. 

I follow this bell ringer with a See-Think-Wonder. Students draw a table with three columns with the headings: "See", "Think", and "Wonder" and write information they observe in the video below in their notebooks.

Once the video ends I ask students: "Which mindset best describes your approach to PBATs: fixed or growth?"

Introduction of the Performance Based Assessment Task Presentation Template

30 minutes

I want students to understand how important building effective presentations is to crafting well-sourced projectile performance-based assessments. One goal of this section of the lesson is to use the template to help students transform notes and summaries from previous lessons into a presentation that both a high school science teacher and a 9th-grade physical science student would understand.  Another goal of this section of the lesson is for students to identify helpful information for their peers to use while assessing an oral defense of an upperclassman's understanding of projectile motion. 

During this section, I distribute sticky notes and ask students to write down everything that comes to mind when they hear the phrase performance-based assessment. Some of the comments students write include: "scary," "stands between me and graduation," "difficult," "unknown," and "I'm prepared". This activity asks students to identify warm and cool feedback on the concept of PBATs which is the main focus of this lesson. 

I then lead a whole class discussion on crafting the best game plan for a successful student oral defense using a growth mindset.  Our class game plan includes:

  • A calendar of due dates for drafts posted in class
  • Reminders on our Edmodo wall
  • Using google slides to create, edit and share drafts for assessment

I remind students that the lessons from Galileo, coupled to a strong base of mathematical reasoning communicated in a clear and accurate manner, are effective tools for performing at or above the expectation of their committees. During the next ten minutes, I lead students through a Template that covers the basic presentation requirements for a physics student presentation. 

Each presentation includes background information, shows the connection between trigonometric functions and parabolic trajectory of a projectile and shows the analysis of the effect of a perfect launch angle versus the effect of the initial velocity on the horizontal range of a projectile. 

I spend five minutes calling on students from around the room and answer clarifying questions that students ask. I distribute Chromebooks and share the template with the entire class. Students spend the last ten minutes of this portion of the lesson looking at the template and asking clarifying questions about the process. After students look at the template, they work in pairs on a copy of the template to use information from this lesson to craft a projectile motion oral defense.

Initial Draft of Student Presentations

35 minutes

I distribute Chromebooks and chargers for students to use in case the computers need to be recharged. It takes a little longer for some students to get started than others, but after five minutes or so most students divvy up the work and quickly get to the task at hand.

During the next thirty minutes, I project the presentation first draft requirements on the interactive whiteboard at the front of the room for students to complete. Students work in pairs using a shared google doc to create their first draft using the template I describe in the previous section. 

I project the first draft requirements on the board and ask students to:

  • Create a minimum of 10 slides from the template
  • Include Essential Questions
  • Show the connection between trigonometric identities and the components of a projectile's velocity
  • Illustrate the equivalent time in years of the worldwide daily game time for Angry Birds

As students are creating their presentations, I walk around checking in with them. The purpose of this assignment is to have students use information from multiple sources and perspectives, much like scientists construct explanations of complex topics. Some of the sources include the summaries  from this previous lesson, notes, our openStax digital textbook and journal articles found using google scholar. This task helps students to illustrate the depth of their current understanding of the Angry Bird model of projectile motion. Students use of mathematical logic to simplify solutions within their presentations. A student's ability to recognize patterns in projectile motion data is one important way to show mastery throughout a student's oral defense.

The first draft is due at midnight. I remain after school for 2 additional hours to allow students who do not have internet access or cell phones to continue working on their drafts. Once students finish their draft they share this draft with me through google slides, hitting the share button and typing my email address. Click here to see an example of student work. 

At the end of this section, I pause and ask students to return the materials they used during this section to the front resource station. A resource manager returns the Chromebooks to the charging station so that they are readily available the next time the materials are needed.


10 minutes

The closure activity this section asks students to write down ideas for tools that may help them compose better presentations in their notebooks. Student responses include: "Using for citations", "Using seotools to check for uniqueness", and "Asking my advisor to proof-read my slides". This type of closure activity asks students to identify points of weakness in their understanding and tools that may help them be successful in producing a presentation that will positively help them during their oral defenses. 

To wrap up this section of the lesson, I ask students to look at the PBAT exhibition dates that I post on the class Edmodo wall. I also ask students to share the presentations with me by midnight to meet the first deadline.