Introduction to Momentum: Using A Graphic Organizer to Construct an Explanation

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Students will use note-taking to construct ideas about momentum in terms of mass and velocity.

Big Idea

Momentum is mass in motion.


The goal of this lesson is to help students use note-taking to construct explanations for concepts that relate to momentum. This lesson addresses the RST.11-12.4 and HS-PS2-2 standards because it asks students to take notes from chapter 8 of our class digital textbook on momentum. It aligns with the NGSS Practices of Using Constructing Explanations (SP6) for Science because students will use their prior knowledge to predict definitions and take notes from our class digital textbook to explain factors that are related to an object's momentum. 

Within this lesson students begin constructing an explanation of the key terms that relate to an object's momentum. Students use a note-taking graphic organizer to predict the definition of eight momentum key terms and create sentences that use each word in context. Students then use their understanding of momentum to complete the digital lesson found here. Finally, students create headlines that correspond to today's lesson. Within this lesson, I ask students to focus on deepening their current understanding of momentum. 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 on a scale of 1 (Advanced Beginner) to 5 (Highly Proficient).


10 minutes

This portion of the lesson follows a routine to communicate the ideas that students need to be proficient in by the end of the semester and it also highlights the goals of the lesson to students. I summarize the key ideas through the bell-ringer activity and take attendance while students transfer the projected information into their notebooks.

Today's additional piece of information is a BIG IDEA which states that momentum is mass in motion. Later on within this lesson I ask students to use a graphic organizer to construct an explanation of key momentum terms.  In this lesson, I want students to work in pairs and use information gathered from our digital textbook to construct explanations for key momentum terms.

Then I project a question on the interactive whiteboard that asks students to identify quantities that affect momentum from a list of multiple-choice answers. I ask students to discuss their answers and reasoning with other students at their lab tables and circle the responses that ~80% of the class agrees upon. Then I ask students predict whether momentum is a vector or scalar. This prediction allows students to apply their previous understanding of the terms vector and scalar to understand the new physics concept of momentum.

White-boarding Session: Constructing An Explanation of Momentum

5 minutes

During this section, I project a question on the interactive whiteboard at the front of the room which asks students to "Identify two physics terms that momentum most likely depends on using the phrase: Momentum is Mass in Motion" as a focus statement. I ask students to discuss the question with their tablemates and then I ask a volunteer to answer the question. I then take a temperature reading to see whether students agree with the volunteer student's solution.

After we identify that momentum depends on mass and velocity, I ask students to create a mind map in their notebooks of additional key ideas, diagrams, descriptions and equations that come to mind when they hear the phrase "Momentum". This activity asks them to identify information from earlier in the school year that we will use to understand physics content later in the lesson. I ask students to create a mind map on "Momentum". Students spend five minutes constructing their mind maps in their notebooks. After five minutes elapse I ask for volunteers and compose a mind map on the interactive whiteboard at the front of the room. I want students to understand how important identifying information from mathematics is to understanding patterns within physics content. I want students to use both mind mapping and group discussion as ways to make connections between the phrase mass in motion and the mathematical model for momentum.

Using A Graphic Organizer to Construct Explanations of Momentum Key Terms

25 minutes

In this section of the lesson, I distribute a Graphic Organizer for students to construct explanations of key terms that relate to momentum. I use input from my literacy coach to create vocabulary building tools for my students. Students use the next fifteen minutes completing the graphic organizer. First students predict the definition of a physics terms that relates to momentum by circling a multiple choice option from the second column of the organizer. Then students use information from our openStax digital textbook to construct an explanation of the momentum vocabulary words in the organizer, including illustrations, and whether the term is a vector or a scalar. Click here to see an example of student work. 

After fifteen minutes elapse, I ask for volunteers from each table to provide a verbal summary of the momentum vocabulary graphic organizer. I ask for a verbal feedback as an informal assessment because I want students to give me a feedback and to provide candid reflections on the ease of the task and the connections between the information they collected and concepts they already know. This helps me see where students are in terms of their ability to make connections between working definitions and more academic definitions. During the next section of the lesson, students are given a chance to apply these skills to using an interactive website to obtain more information about the concept of momentum. 

Pair Work: Exploring Momentum

30 minutes

During the first five minutes, I distribute Laptops and ask students to work in pairs to complete the first physics classroom lesson on momentum by writing solutions in their notebooks. Students spend the next twenty-five minutes using the physics classroom site while working together to read the tutorial on the introduction to momentum and complete the first lesson activity from the physics classroom website on impulse and momentum. Each student writes their partner's name and the assignment solutions in their notebooks. I collect notebooks and give them a stamp for completion and assess them for understanding by the end of the week. 

The tutorial and Minds on Physics modules are free for teachers and students to use. The site includes a series of  tutorials and interactive student activities that improve student understanding of topics in mechanics. This section of the lesson helps students develop a conceptual understanding of momentum in terms of mass and velocity. Students also solve for different quantities using the linear equation for momentum in terms of mass and velocity. I use this type of activity so that students can process the information at their own pace. I choose to conduct this portion of the lesson as a pair-driven activity to keep students accountable for completing the lesson at the end of the 30 minute time frame.


10 minutes

Throughout this lesson I give students multiple opportunities to listen to one another and to control the process of their learning.  With this in mind, I include a closing activity for this lesson as I do in others so that students are assessed on their current level of understanding the key factors that affect an object's momentum. 

The closure activity asks students to identify and describe their personal level of understanding of key ideas within the lesson and also works to make student thinking visible regarding the underlying reasons behind their understanding. Students write their responses to this activity in their notebooks. Click here to see an example of student work. I check student responses to this closure to determine whether students are proficient in the understanding key momentum terms. During the next lesson I highlight this connection and the tools from this lesson that are useful for illustrating this enduring understanding.