Creating User Guides on Work

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Students will demonstrate an understanding of mathematical models of work by creating a user guide for physical science students.

Big Idea

User guides are essential tools for explaining the concept of "work" through a physics lens.


The goal of this lesson is for students to demonstrate their understanding of work and energy by creating a user guide on different computational models of work. This lesson addresses the HS-PS3-1, HSA-CED.A.2, and WHST.11-12.4 standards because it asks students to use different mathematical models of work to solve problems for the amount of work done within a system. It aligns with the NGSS Practices of Using Mathematical and Computational Reasoning (SP5), Constructing Explanations (SP6), and Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information (SP8) because students create a user guide that shows a 9th grade audience how to solve a set of practice problems that are related to the physics concept of work. 

Within this lesson, students create a user guide for 9th-grade physical science students. Students work in pairs to create user guides on simple work problems. Finally, students choose one of two quick check options to demonstrate their individual level of understanding of basic work problems. Within this lesson, I ask students to focus on communicating their current understanding of work. I assess student understanding throughout the lesson using informal check-ins, and 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 creating a user guides are an essential tools for communicating concepts related to work. Later on within this lesson I ask students to use an article to craft user guides that construct an explanation of different models of work for a 9th-grade student audience.  In this lesson, I want students to work in pairs and use information gathered from our digital textbook to construct explanations for work problems.

EDpuzzle: Work Done on An Incline

15 minutes

Within this lesson, I introduce a mathematical model for the work done an incline. I include a set of notes that I project at the interactive whiteboard in the front of the room. This part of the lesson focuses on the mathematical model for work done at an angle. For the first ten minutes, I play the notes at the front of the room for the entire class and pause at the pause points I embed as green question marks in the video.

 During the first ten minutes, students take notes in their notebooks. I ask students if they have any questions or concerns about the methods discussed in the video. We have a whole class discussion for 2-4 minutes. Some student queries include, "Can we use this formula for work even when we are pushing an object on a flat surface?", and "What happens if there is friction?" During the last minute of this section of the lesson, I email these video notes to the entire class so that students can watch, pause and replay the video at their convenience. During the next section, students work in pairs to create a user guide that includes this computational model for work. 

Pair Work: User Guide on Work

40 minutes

During this section of the lesson, I project as set of requirements on the interactive whiteboard at the front of the room. This portion of the lesson focuses on considering multiple viewpoints to gathering, interpret and communicate ideas on work to a 9th-grade audience. Students work in pairs to create a user guide on work. I ask that each user guide include:

  • A Cover Page
  • Graphics(labeled diagrams, images, etc.)
  • Definitions 
  • Section Titles
  • Page numbers 
  • Between 5-10 pages
  • 2-4 example problems (with solution)
  • 2-4 practice problems 

During the first five minutes or so, students create a game plan and decide how to divvy up the work. Some student pairs decide to break the project into a series of tasks. Other students work together on each section of their user guide. Students spend the next 35-40 minutes creating a user guide, using Chromebooks and their notes to gather information to incorporate into their guides. The majority of students use Chromebooks to go to either our openStax textbook or the physics classroom website or a combination of the two websites.  A few students use the Hyper physics website, and almost all students use Chromebooks to search for images. Some students trace the outlines of images while others print images to paste into their user guides.

Most students are able to complete this task in the allotted class time, but I allow students to turn this assignment in after school ends by dropping their complete guides in my mailbox in the main office. I assess the user guides on student's ability to communicate their current level of understanding and identifying important work concepts to a 9th-grade audience. I grade the user guides and share with 9th-grade physical science students the following week.

Click here and here for examples of student work.

Closure: Quick Check

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 ability to communicate their current level of understanding and identifying important concepts from today's lesson. 

The Closure activity asks students to identify the key parts of this lesson and also works to make student thinking visible regarding their ideas on what is important for teaching other students how to solve work problems. I distribute quick checks. I give students two problem options that relate to content from this week's lessons. Students work individually and independently on the quick checks. After 10 minutes pass, I collect the quick checks to grade and return to students later this week.