Creating Awesome Projectile Motion Presentations

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Students will use TED talks and a Frayer model to create informative and engaging physics presentations on projectile motion.

Big Idea

Edmodo provides students with autonomy over learning about projectile motion in a way that is authentic and meaningful.


In this lesson, students research concepts related to projectile motion using the NGSS Practices of Constructing Explanations and Obtaining, Evaluating and Communicating Information. My goal is that they illustrate, through a presentation, key factors that affect a projectile's range in a clear and precise manner. The goal of this lesson is to help students learn that synthesizing projectile motion information from more than one credible source is an effective way to communicate scientific information. This lesson addresses the W.11-12.2a standard as a way to effectively compose a scientific presentation based on information gathered from various media and sources. This lesson also addresses the standard as a way to communicate the mathematical reasoning behind the time of flight equation for a projectile using Galileo's equation of motion for the final velocity of an object as a starting point.

Students begin by creating a projectile motion multimedia presentation based on a model template.  I assess student understanding throughout the lesson using informal check-ins and 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. 


5 minutes

Today's bell-ringer is intended to help students make their thinking processes about plagiarism visible in a way that is authentic and meaningful. At the beginning of this lesson, I have students log into our class Edmodo page and create a Word Cloud on "plagiarism". Students use either tagxedo, abcya or wordle to create a word cloud. A word cloud is a collection of related words that in a typesetting or shape that illustrates a singular theme, in this case "plagiarism". I choose this theme because students should learn the habit of giving credit to the original author or creator of a work.

Students spend about five minutes generating a word cloud by typing a set of words into a word cloud generator. Typically, the frequency of a particular word increases the size of the word within the word cloud. Students choose the font type, shape, and color scheme of the word cloud from a list of options. Students post their word clouds on our Edmodo wall. I grade student submissions and record the grades in our digital grade book.

I also want students to create unique and authentic work that they can be proud of their ability to proficiently understand projectile motion. Later on within this lesson I ask students to use concepts from information presented during two TED talks in a way that effectively demonstrates, through a presentation, their clear academic growth since the beginning of the semester. 

Frayer Model: Performance Based Assessments and Tasks

15 minutes

Students are familiar with this strategy of Frayer models which is common to grade teams at my school. Frayer models are the work of Dorothy Frayer and her colleagues at the University of Wisconsin. These models help students build a working understanding of vocabulary words. Frayer models are a useful tool meant to help students construct an explanation of a complex concept. This type of graphic organizer helps students distinguish between examples and non-examples of a specific concept. At the beginning of this section, I lead students through a completed Frayer Model Example and ask students to turn and talk to their neighbors about their noticings and wonderings about my example. 

Within this lesson, I want students to think about delivering an engaging presentation as a part of their Performance Based Assessments and Tasks (PBATs) graduation requirements. In order to facilitate this process, after looking at my example, students create a Frayer model to demonstrate their understanding of performance-based assessments and tasks. Students spend about ten minutes completing a Frayer Model on the phrase "PBATs." I ask students to:

  • Find a textbook definition from a credible source (and to cite the source using They are to write this definition in the definition box.
  • They then rewrite this definition in their own words in another box.
  • Using complete sentences, images, or diagrams, I ask students to illustrate 3 examples and 3 non-examples of a successful Performance Based Assessment and Task presentation in the last two boxes.

I collect the Frayer models and grade them, but students create a working definition that they paraphrase using academic language. This helps with summaries later in the unit. An example of student work can be found here.

Using TED Talks To Craft Projectile Motion Presentations

50 minutes

Performance based assessments and tasks require students to communicate their understanding of projectile motion to a committee of teachers and students in an effective manner.  The use of tech tools to communicate results effectively is important for showing mastery throughout a student's oral defense during their performance-based assessment. One of the major pitfalls of students is to use too many words on each presentation slide. Similarly, students suffer from poor presentation skills, including the design and verbally communicating their ideas. During this section, I introduce the task which asks students to watch a TED talk on presentations worth listening to and to identify the author's main idea as well as to give reasons why they agree or disagree with the point.

I spend two minutes distributing headphones to students who need them. Then, I remind students to share their replies only with me to avoid spamming the entire class. Students spend ten minutes watching the TED talk. Students watch the TED talk individually. I ask students to spend 15 minutes or so creating a three paragraph summary of this TED Talk that includes: 

How do you connect today's TED Talk?
What is the author's main point?
How can the author's views help you during their your career?
Do you agree or disagree with the author?
Why do you agree or disagree with the author's point?

Students write their responses to these questions using google docs and then share them with me either using email or our Edmodo wall. Students spend the last ten minutes of this portion of the lesson looking at their projectile motion presentations and asking clarifying questions about the process. Some students ask questions like, "How do I keep the number of words on my slide to a small number and still get my point across?"  Other students ask questions about ways to make an audience listen to you and learn from your presentation without reading all of the words on a slide. 

During the next twenty minutes of class, I ask students to watch the second TED talk found here and use the information from the two talks to modify their projectile motion presentations. Click here to see an example of student work before and after watching the TED talk. Students edit their projectile motion presentations to be visually appealing and communicate information in a clear and concise manner. As students are editing their presentations I walk around checking in with students about ways to incorporate the tools from the TED talks into their projectile motion presentations.


10 minutes

The closure activity asks students to write down ideas for pairing presentation tools with specific physics tasks in a sort of "name your tool superlative tweet-a-thon". Students write comments like "easy to share and edit with a partner #googleslides" and "clear like vine #powtoon" on our Edmodo wall. It also asks students to identify points of weakness in their understanding of plagiarism and identify tools that may help them be successful in producing a presentation that will positively help them during their oral defenses.

Some students describe plagiarism as "biting someone's style without giving them their due" others use more academic language and describe plagiarism as "a failure to give an author credit for their original work".  I think the closure is successful because students make identify tools and techniques for producing engaging and informative physics presentations.