21 thoughts on “2010 to 2011 Honors Physics Objectives

    1. We run out of time. But I’m hoping to change up the 2nd semester for next year (we would probably do the same through about COMM2, but then change the rest). I’d really like to try out the CASTLE modeling materials and get much more in depth with the electric force/field/charge concepts, including doing circuits.

  1. Oops – another question: so does this only extend to the E field of a point charge (no lines, sheets, etc.), and no talk of potential? Not being critical BTW, just trying to understand. Everybody has to pick their battles, and I’m always up for changing mine, if there’s a better reason.

    1. It’s an algebra based class with sophomores (mostly in Algebra 2 Honors), so we couldn’t get to anything that got to calculus-y. But we run out of time, anyway. We started dropping the whole electric field concept period this year because it just made no sense in our context. We were basically teaching it as a definition because we never got to anything where it would be a useful thing to know. So next year I want to either get to something like that, or just do another topic entirely (rotational motion? or more in depth with the kinetic molecular model stuff (not my preference because they’ll do it again in chemistry anyway)? or something else?).

      1. I justify the E field of sheets and lines with a light sensor and a projected line and sheet of white. As you move away, the intensity falls off as 1/r or not at all; for a projected point, as 1/r^2. I also use a hand-wavy vector argument. These two are my stand-ins for calculus.

        The thing that I like about E field and potential is that they’re rate concepts and that they’re abstract, to stretch the mindbone. They also illustrate a way of applying the cons. of E and force analysis in a more general way (the stuff that we did before was just a special case; here’s the general case).

        I’m also trying to fight my natural predilection to just do mechanics, since I like it so much. I could easily fill up the year that way!

        1. My problem is that I need concept first, name second. So we need to have a need for electric field or potential before I would want to introduce it. Abstract isn’t the problem so much as being necessary for problems that we want to investigate. That’s where my struggle with including it is. I want us to be trying to address a problem and for it to be clumsy. And for electric field or potential to be the way to make it more elegant.

          Have you checked out the CASTLE modeling stuff?

          1. That’s certainly the way to go about it. Looking at charge geometries of lines and sheets necessitates it: all of those infinite vectors are certainly an issue. Redoing the same problem (even with point charges) with 15 different charges being acted upon is clumsy, when there is a a lot in common (E). Another selling point for E is that we’ve already done it: g. This gives more insight about gravity as well.

            For potential, let’s put two electrons a cm apart. How fast will they be moving when they’re a million miles apart? We certainly can’t apply force/field analysis to this. Let’s look at an electron accelerating across a gap with a constant E field. How fast will it be going? Well, it’s clumsy to use forces and kinematics, when it can all be a one-line solution with potential. Sometimes, like gPE, it’s absolutely essential, in order to avoid calculus.

            I looked through about the first half; I was uncomfortable about a few things. Anything claiming to be (or to value) a “historical” approach sounds an alarm for me. I don’t want an old model – I want the best model. The pressure/fluid approach didn’t sit too well, either, though I can’t necessarily articulate why at the moment. I much prefer a model where (after looking at potential), we realize that everything wants to go “downhill” on the PE curve. This tells us why the battery needs to convert chemical energy to raise charges up hill, why the current flows the direction it does, etc.

            At least, that’s how I see it for the moment. I need to emphasize more the tendency towards lower PE earlier in mechanics, so that I can trade on that a bit more heavily with EPE.

          2. “My problem is that I need concept first, name second.”
            I’ve heard this described as ABCCBV (Activity Before Concept, Concept Before Vocabulary) :oD
            … I guess it makes sense for me to tell you a name since you’re already familiar with the concept…

  2. Lots of good stuff on the list. Thanks for posting it.

    You mentioned revising this over the summer. Any thoughts you want to share about what might change?

    Your objectives all seem to be content, and more or less equal standing or weight. That seems to be true for a lot of SBG classes. Have you considered objectives that are more process-based, like inquiry, or lab skills, or writing? Not that I’m suggesting you add more, it looks to me like your students’ plates are pretty full with what you’ve got. But I’m wondering how well that sort of long-term process objective would work within SBG.

    1. They aren’t weighted, but they aren’t all exactly equal. The objectives are categorized as “A” or “B”. The A skills are required in order to pass the class (that is, no matter how many B skills you can demonstrate, if you can’t show all of the As, then you can’t get >= 70 for the semester). The B skills are required in order to get above 90 for the semester.

      Okay, this next part gets a bit rambly because I’m thinking through things here:

      I want to reevaluate which are A and which are B skills, and possibly have fewer A skills (that actually wouldn’t have mattered much to this year’s Honors classes because they didn’t have much trouble mastering the A skills, but for the regular class, it could help focus students even more on where to start with problems).

      Do you have an idea about how would you assess those other skills? Would it be in a way that would still allow them to initiate out-of-class assessments when they think they’ve gotten better? At least for the implementation that I used this year, that would definitely be a requirement.

      On the other hand, does everything need to be graded? Or asked another way: would grading process give them better feedback that we’re currently giving them to improve those skills? I think the guiding principle of what I want to grade is: Does grading this give them better information that they can use to get better at doing physics?

      I see their work in the lab as their first step to building a model, rather than as an end product. At the end of the year, I want their grade to represent how well they were able to use the models that they developed, but I’m not sure that I would the grade to represent how good they were at building the model in the first place. At least, not in a first year class. And also because that wasn’t an individual process; it was something that we all did together.

      I guess what I am thinking is this: I don’t want to grade their process, I want to grade their deployment of skills. I do want to give them feedback during their process. Right now, I do that as I walk around during class. I wouldn’t want process to affect their final grade, so the question becomes: would the extra feedback be worth setting up objectives for process that don’t affect the final grade? And it comes back around to: how would you assess those skills objectively, and how would you deliver that feedback?

      1. You ask how to assess those skills. The ones I particularly mentioned were writing, lab skills, and inquiry. Writing and lab skills seem pretty straightforward, though I’d have to be much more specific (E.g. Do they support conclusions with evidence? Can they troubleshoot?) Inquiry is fuzzier, but solving goal-less problems is one way to get at it.

        I think that I confused things with the word “process.” I don’t mean the process of learning a concept. That’s part of the beauty of SBG: that the destination is important, not how they get there. So in that sense, I don’t want to grade the students on the process of how they got there.

        I was thinking more of the learning of scientific processes. Some teachers are most interested in whether students can design and carry out an experiment, about friction for example. They are less interested in what the students remember about friction itself. I’m not sure I’m in that camp, but some of my colleagues are, so I was trying to figure out whether that would work in the SBG model.

        And thanks for explaining about the “A” and “B” standards. That helps.

  3. Hmmm… what state is this? I see you’re not required to cover electricity/magnetism like we have to in California? Thanks for the helpful resource!

    1. I work at an independent school, so we don’t have to follow any particular state standards. These are the ones that I developed to use with Standards Based Grading this year in my classes.

  4. Any ideas on ‘additional work’ (papers/projects, etc.) to assign 2-3 students capable of Honor’s level work who are in a standard physics class? The school will not approve a self contained honor’s course, but 2-3 students clearly need and are capable of honor’s level work and a 5 point course. Help!

    1. That’s hard for me to say. I’m pretty against regular homework, and giving a few kids extra work isn’t very appealing either. If I were going to do something like that, it would almost definitely be alternative work, not additional work, and much of it would happen during class time. The biggest difference between my honors and “regular” classes is pace. Honors covers more than twice the material that my regular class covers. The depth is sometimes different, but often not. And it would be tough to have two or three kids going much faster than the rest of the class. Usually problems in the regular class are scalable, though (like goal-less problems). On the other hand, the kids capable of more work aren’t being hurt by doing more thinking but less homework than they could have been doing. They will get the chance to take the class again in college anyway, right?

    1. Usually try to hand them out at the start of the unit. I would say few students look at them before they are preparing for an assessment. Some probably don’t look at them until they get the test back and look at their scores.

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