Day 135: Whiteboarding

AP Physics: Angular Momentum

Students whiteboarded yesterday’s problems. There was a lot of good discussion; I think rotation is starting to click for a lot of students. I also did a few demos, including one with an RC motorcycle inspired by a Evel Knievel statement prior to a jump over the Snake River Canyon that his biggest fear was accidentally letting go of the gas while in mid-air.


Physics: Oscillating Particle Whiteboarding

Students whiteboarded yesterday’s problems. The connections between the math and the big ideas seem to be clicking for a lot of students. One of the questions we discussed is whether the angle of a ramp should affect the period of a cart oscillating on a spring, so I set up the demonstration.

Chemistry Essentials: Percent Yield 

I kept the whiteboarding pretty short since a quiz on percent yield was also on deck for today and the para working with the class had let me know that students had done very well with the problems. We targeted a couple of trouble spots, like a problem where a lot of students dropped a decimal point yesterday, leading to over 800% yield. I was really pleased that students recognized why that was not a reasonable answer, even if they had trouble finding the error.


Day 134: Problems Galore

I had a sub today, so no pictures. All three of my classes worked on problems.

AP Physics: Angular Momentum

I gave students some angular momentum problems. Its been a while since we hit linear momentum hard, so I’ll be curious to see how it went shaking the dust off and translating to angular scenarios. I also threw in some torque problems; on the last quiz, a lot of students weren’t sure what an extended free-body diagram is, so that is something I needed to make sure to revisit.

Physics: Springs & Pendulums

Students did some problems using the equations for the period of a spring and period of a pendulum. Earlier this week, some students were having trouble distinguishing the two formulas, but I think the lab practicals helped. I’m hoping that shows up in how the problems went.

Chemistry Essentials: Percent Yield

Students did some percent yield problems. They look very similar to the stoichiometry problems we’ve been doing, with a step added at the end to calculate percent yield. When I got to school for parent-teacher conferences, I was able to connect with my sub and the para who supports the class, and both told me the problems went very well for the majority of students; they are seeing the connections between what we’ve done previously and the new material. The para also reminded me I need to crack down on students showing their work; a lot of students are frustrated because looking back at their old work isn’t helpful, but they don’t yet see that writing out their work would change that.

Day 133: Board Meeting, Pendulum Practical, & Percent Yield

AP Physics: Board Meeting

Students whiteboarded their results from yesterday’s Pivot Interactives activity. Students spent a lot of their time yesterday on whether the location of the collision affects whether linear momentum was conserved, but had a lot of interesting approaches and good discussion about that question. For the portions of the activity specific to angular momentum, I ended up much more teacher-directed than I like since I will be out tomorrow and am feeling the time crunch of the looming AP exam.


Physics: Pendulum Practical

Students finished yesterday’s practical, then were tasked with finding the period of a pendulum without using a ruler or meterstick. Not surprisingly, most students declared the pendulum practical was much easier than the spring one.


Chemistry Essentials: Percent Yield

Students predicted how much carbon dioxide should be produced in a reaction between baking soda and hydrochloric acid, then found the percent yield by measuring how much mass was “lost” during their reaction. I like that this lab circles back to conservation of mass to measure the mass of gas produced, but a lot of students had trouble connecting the lab to the stoichiometry problems we’ve done, so I need to think about how the layout and wording of the lab may be making those connections more difficult.

chem yield lab.jpg

Day 132: Angular Momentum, Lab Practical, & Popcorn

We had a snow day yesterday. Students (and teachers!) are getting restless for spring; after seeing the grass and even a few dandelions sprout last week, it was tough to get another 18 inches of snow.

AP Physics: Angular Momentum

Students used Pivot Interactives to explore angular momentum using a collision between a marble and a block. I started by having students determine whether the location of the impact changed whether linear momentum was conserved, which lead to some great conversations. A few students needed some reminders about linear momentum, but that wasn’t surprising given I haven’t done a great job of spiraling back to earlier topics this term.

pivot ang momentum.PNG

Physics: Lab Practical

I gave students some springs we haven’t worked with yet and asked them to make a graph with period on one axis where the slope could be used to find the spring constant. This was the first time I’ve had students go backwards from an equation to picking a graph to make, so it was a little tricky, but students had some great conversations about the relationships they were working with. Next year, I’d like to try to get more lab practicals that focus on graphs rather than just calculations.

spring practical.jpg

Chemistry Essentials: Popcorn

Students determined the percent yield for a bag of popcorn by finding how many kernels remained unpopped. It was messy, but it gave students a nice, concrete foundation for what percent yield means. It also came up in the discussion why some of the popcorn kernels didn’t pop, which could make this lab something to come back to when students want to blame less than 100% yield on doing the lab wrong or (shudder) human error.


Day 131: Test, Whiteboarding, & Quiz

AP Physics: Test

Students took a quiz covering several learning targets that was really long enough to call a test. I’ve been including a self-assessment on my quizzes all year, and today I tried an idea I’ve been toying with to break each learning target being assessed into sub-skills. It didn’t have much impact on how students responded to the reflection I ask for, but students did say they found the breakdown of each learning target helpful. I need to think about good structures to share that with students prior to the assessments.

Physics: Whiteboarding

Students whiteboarded yesterday’s problems. I went with a consensus-building approach, where all groups whiteboarded the same thing, then we talked as a whole group to agree on the answer. There were a few things I could tell students were rusty on, but students were able to make the connections I was after.

spring wb (1).jpg

Chemistry Essentials: Quiz

Students took their quiz on stoichiometry. Several students, when given the mass of one reactant, asked if they could assume they had enough of the other reactants, which I found really interesting since that question hadn’t come up before. Regardless, that question will be a perfect lead-in to limiting reactants.

Day 130: Rotational Inertia, Springs, & Whiteboarding

AP Physics: Rotational Inertia

Students worked on data collection for the rotational inertia lab we started yesterday. A lot of groups are setting up spreadsheets to streamline the calculations, which is great. However, this lab is time-consuming enough that I want to spend some time this summer looking at alternatives or trying to simplify it.


Physics: Springs

Students worked on connecting models from earlier in the year to the motion of springs. A few students struggled to get started with the free-body diagrams, but most were able to work through and make the connections I was after.

On a side note, I talked to one lab group about their pre-calc homework. They had some problems involving free-body diagrams for blocks on a ramp, but were thrown off by some differences in language and notation. I should find a time to connect with the pre-calc teachers to see if there are ways we could do a better job of building on each others’ classes.

Chemistry Essentials: Whiteboarding

Students whiteboarded yesterday’s problems. Since the problems are on the long side, I decided to do a gallery walk today. Stoichiometry seems to be clicking for a lot of students.


Day 129: Rotational Inertia, Board Meeting, & Stoichiometry

AP Physics: Rotational Inertia

Students started a lab to find what affects the rotational inertia of a T made out of PVC. The number crunching on this lab gets hairy enough that I want to reevaluate this lab for next year. One option would be to have students apply a force by pulling with a spring scale or force sensor rather than dropping a hanging mass.

rot i.jpg

Physics: Board Meeting

Students whiteboarded their graphs for the spring period lab. The results for spring constant didn’t come out as nicely as I hoped; a lot of groups struggled to find that value accurately. We ended up using units to reason through how spring constant plays in.

spring wb.jpg

Chemistry Essentials: Stoichiometry

Students did some written stoichiometry problems. Many of them needed more coaching than I’d hoped, but they were able to connect to yesterday’s lab and use particle diagrams to start putting the pieces together.