Honors Physics 2012 Objectives

EDIT: For the latest version of my objectives (including the ones for my regular classes), see the 2013 school year post, Physics Objectives 2013.

Here are my updated objectives for the year. For information on how I use them, read about conjunctive standards-based grading or check out my SBG cheat sheet. I limited myself to 5 objectives maximum per model this year.

The italicized parts are not strictly part of the objective. Instead, they are extra pieces of information to help flesh out what we’re looking to see students do. As always, feel free to steal/modify/etc.

I teach this class using Modeling Instruction (TM) (MI), and these objectives are based on my take on that curriculum. Where applicable (and where it varies from mine), I’ve added in the MI name for each model.


0.1  A  I treat vectors and scalars differently and distinguish between the two.

Vectors have a magnitude and a direction.
Scalars only have a magnitude.

0.2  A  I can graphically add and subtract vectors.

Add vectors head-to-tail.
Subtract vectors tail-to-tail.

0.3  A  I can break a vector into components.

Turn the vector into a right triangle and use trigonometry.

0.4  A  I report answers with a reasonable amount of precision, given the measurements provided.

Consider the range of each number and the possible range of your answer when choosing how specifically to report it.

0.5  A  I can use a graphical vector construction to calculate 2-D kinematics quantities.

CVPM (Constant Velocity Particle Model)

1.1  A  CVPM  I can draw and interpret diagrams to represent the motion of an object moving with a constant velocity.

Includes position-vs-time graphs, velocity-vs-time graphs, motion maps.
Recognize the features of a diagram that represent constant velocity vs. changing velocity.
Be able to translate from one graph to another or to describe the motion in words based on the graph.
Find the average velocity using the slope of an x-t graph.
Find the change in position using the area beneath a v-t graph.

1.2  B  CVPM  I differentiate between position, distance, and displacement.

1.3  B  CVPM  I can solve problems involving average speed and average velocity.

BFPM (Balanced Forces Particle Model, MI’s Unit 4: Free Particle Model)

2.1  A  BFPM  I can draw a properly labeled free body diagram showing all forces acting on an object.

I can identify surrounding objects interacting with an object, and the forces they exert on the object.
I know when two surfaces must be experiencing a friction interaction.

2.2  A  BFPM  When given one force, I can describe its N3L force pair.

2.3  A  BFPM  I can relate balanced/unbalanced forces to an object’s constant/changing motion.

Be able to determine the direction of the net force based on the object’s motion.

2.4  B  BFPM  I can use N1L to quantitatively determine the forces acting on an object moving at a constant velocity.

2.5  B  BFPM  I can draw a force vector addition diagram for an object experiencing no net force.

CAPM (Constant Acceleration Particle Model, MI’s Unit 3: Uniformly Accelerating Particle Model)

3.1  A  CAPM  I can draw and interpret diagrams to represent the motion of an object moving with a changing velocity.

Includes position-vs-time graphs, velocity-vs-time graphs, motion maps.
Find the instantaneous or average velocity from the slope of the x-t graph.
Find average acceleration from the slope of a v-t graph.
Find change-in-position from the area beneath a v-t graph.
Find change-in-velocity from the area beneath an a-t graph.
Describe the motion of an object in words based on a motion diagram/graph.

3.2  A  CAPM  I differentiate between acceleration and velocity.

Also differentiate between velocity and change-in-velocity.

3.3  B  CAPM  I correctly interpret the meaning of the sign of the acceleration

The sign of the acceleration matches the sign of the slope on the velocity-vs-time graph.

3.4  B  CAPM  I can describe the motion of an object in words using the velocity-vs-time graph.

3.5  B  CAPM  I can solve problems using kinematics concepts.

UBFPM (Unbalanced Forces Particle Model, MI’s Unit 5: Constant Force Particle Model)

4.1  A  UBFPM  I use multiple diagrams and graphs to represent objects moving at a changing velocity.

Motion graphs (x-, v-, a-t), motion map, FBD, vector addition diagram, system schema.

4.2  A  UBFPM  My FBDs look qualitatively accurate (balanced or unbalanced in the correct directions, relative sizes of forces).

4.3  B  UBFPM  I can solve problems using Newton’s 2nd Law (Fnet = ma).

4.4  B  UBFPM  I can draw a force vector addition diagram for an object experiencing a net force.

COMM (Conservation of Momentum Model, MI’s Unit 9: Impulsive Force Model)

5.1  A  COMM  I can calculate the momentum of and the impulse on an object (or system) with direction and proper units.

5.2  A  COMM  I can draw and analyze momentum bar charts for 1-D interactions (IF charts).

Know the difference between momentum and velocity (and which is conserved in a collision… hint: it is momentum, not velocity).
Identify when the impulse on a system is zero or non-zero.

5.3  A  COMM  I treat momentum as a vector quantity.

5.4  B  COMM  I can explain a situation in words using momentum concepts.

5.5  B  COMM  I can use the conservation of momentum to solve 2-D problems.

Use a graphical vector construction or double IF charts (momentum components).

PMPM (Projectile Motion Particle Model, MI’s Unit 6: 2-D Particle Models)

6.1  B  PMPM  I can solve problems involving objects experiencing projectile motion.

Identify when an object is in free fall (the only force acting on it is Fg).
Use CVPM for x-direction motion, CAPM for y-direction motion of a projectile.

6.2  B  PMPM  I can accurately represent a projectile in multiple ways (graphs, diagrams, etc).

Draw separate x- and y- position, velocity, acceleration graphs for the projectile.

ETM (Energy Transfer Model, MI’s Unit 7: Energy)

7.1  A  ETM  I can use words, diagrams, pie charts, and bar graphs (LOLs) to represent the way the flavor and total amount of energy in a system changes (or doesn’t change).

7.2  A  ETM  I identify when the total energy of a system is changing or not changing, and I can identify the reason for the change.

Differentiate between when energy is stored in a system and energy is transferred into or out of a system.

7.3  B  ETM  I identify thermal energy as the random motion of the tiny particles of a substance.

7.4  B  ETM  I can use the relationship between the force applied to an object and the displacement of the object to calculate the work done on that object.

I can calculate the work done when the force and the displacement are not in the same direction.
I can calculate the work done by a particular force as well as the net work done to an object or system.
I can find the change in energy for an object by calculating the area under an F-displacement graph.

7.5  B  ETM  I can use the conservation of energy to solve problems, starting from my fundamental principle.

I can identify multiple snapshots (states) to analyze for a system in a given situation.
I can define different systems for the same situation, and I can represent the energy and how it changes (or doesn’t change) for each system definition.

OPM (Oscillating Particle Model, Part of the MI Waves materials, or the Linear Binding Force Model)

8.1  B  OPM  I can draw/interpret motion, force, and energy graphs for an oscillating particle.

8.2  B  OPM  I can identify simple harmonic motion and relate it to a linear restoring force.

CFPM (Central Force Particle Model, MI’s Unit 8, of the same name and including Uniform Circular Motion)

9.1  A  CFPM  I can calculate the magnitude and direction of the acceleration for a particle experiencing UCM.

The direction of the acceleration and net force should be toward the center of the circle if the object is in UCM.

9.2  B  CFPM  I can use Newton’s 2nd Law to solve problems for a particle experiencing UCM.

I can use N2L in component form to solve problems for a particle experiencing UCM.

9.3  B  CFPM  I can use the Universal Law of Gravitation to solve problems.

9.4  B  CFPM  I can use the conservation of energy to calculate the escape velocity for an object.

COMM 2 (Conservation of Momentum Model, Part II)

10.1  A  COMM  I can determine whether or not a collision was elastic by analyzing the motion information.

10.2  A  COMM  I can qualitatively represent the energy stored before and after any collision.

10.3  B  COMM  I can solve a problem involving a collision or explosion by employing two fundamental principles.


We’re planning to do some CASTLE (modeling version) work after the first 10 units. This is a change in our curriculum, so we haven’t completely finalized what we’re doing yet. I will update this page when we have set our objectives for the last couple months of the school year. So, watch this space. But not too closely. It won’t happen that quickly. Go do other fun things for a while.

EDIT: I ended up spending a couple of weeks on CASTLE with one of my honors classes, but ended up choosing not to assess on it, so I don’t have a good set of objectives for it.

10 thoughts on “Honors Physics 2012 Objectives

  1. Hey Kelly,

    Sorry about the off-topic comment, but I couldn’t find any other way to contact you through the blog, and I wanted to ask about a possible guest post. Please drop me an e-mail!



  2. Kelly, 4.1 and 4.4? As written, it seems that 4.4 is in 4.1. Is this a typo, or is there something more specific or challenging your addressing by signaling out the vector addition diagram again?

    1. Okay, so technically 4.1 includes 4.4, but probably shouldn’t. I mean to call it out separately. On 4.1, I mostly mean that they do draw multiple useful diagrams when starting a problem where they want to use UBFPM (rather than sinking in equations or just playing with numbers or something) and that they draw those diagrams accurately. The vector addition diagram itself is actually a tougher skill. Does that make sense?

  3. Kelly, been going through a self reflective phase in my second year of teaching, and trying to wrap my brain around this INCREDIBLE method and teach methodology that you and many others are sharing on your blogs. I LOVE the paradigm shift and the focus on students LEARNING (not getting a good grade!).

    As I’ve been reading here about your modeling learning objectives, I’m concerned about meeting state content standards. Here in TX we follow the TEKS. Your 10 units listed above have zero Thermla, Light, Sound, Electricity (although I think your CASLTE involves this topic), and modern physics. Do you cover these in your courses? I’m attending a Modeling Workshop this summer to learn it ropes, but I’m curious how it works. Thanks for sharing your classroom world with us!


    1. Hey Andrew,

      Thanks for the kind note! 🙂

      The CASTLE unit is going to be new to me. I’m excited to try it out in March/April, and I’m sure I’ll have something to write here about how it goes. I like to end the year with Why Is The Sky Blue? which takes us through waves, sound, and light. I don’t have objectives for that unit because I often don’t do any assessments on it. It’s everyone’s favorite topics, and it gives them time to work out all of the old objectives that they still need to master before the exam. I (in general) don’t think everything needs to be graded. This is all in Honors, though. In my regular class, we hit Newton’s Laws, momentum, energy, projectile motion. And depending on how fast the kids want to go that year, maybe also uniform circular motion, waves, sound, and a bit of light. I like to get to the Sky Blue stuff with them, too, but it doesn’t always happen. This year is shaping up to be one with more topics covered, though, since I have some interested, motivated kids in the class and everyone is moving forward at a good pace.

      We used to do some chemistry type stuff with thermodynamics (and also ideal gas law) in Honors, but we swapped that out this year for the CASTLE bit.


  4. Kelly,
    First off, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I am entering my third year of teaching physics (9th grade, modeling). Last year, I dipped my toes in the SBG water, and I’ve been trying to think about how to refine my system and make it more transparent for my students. Your posts have helped a lot.

    One of the things that I want to do is revisit my objectives. I was wondering if you would share your objectives for your general, non-honors physics classes, and if you have CASTLE objectives now? I would be really curious to see both of those…


    1. Hi Alex,


      I am putting together a post now with my objectives for both classes for the coming year (will be posting it later today or tomorrow). I ended up doing CASTLE with one Honors Physics section, but not assessing it, so I don’t have good CASTLE objectives.


  5. I know I am a bit late on this, but I have recently decided to embrace SBG and I have modeled much of how I will do this on the structure and approach you have described, so thank you so much for putting together this incredible explanation and analysis.

    I am teaching AP Physics 1 and AP Physics C this year to students that have already gone through my modeling instruction in an introduction to physics class – much like your “non honors” course. I have been working on developing the curriculum for the extra models that need to be learned in order to cover the AP material. This includes rotational dynamics.

    I’d like to ask your opinion about developing the standards for this model. I have defined an unbalanced torque model UBTM that really includes a constant angular velocity model, an constant angular acceleration model, a rotational energy model and a rotational momentum model. Its huge. Perhaps too large. But the students are very familiar with all the linear particle models and I figure that I can use this to translate the standards more easily. For example, I have defined a “core” standard for this model to be:

    1.1 UBTM (Core) I can draw and interpret diagrams to represent the rotational motion of an extended rigid object.
    – Includes angular displacement (theta)-vs-time graphs, angular velocity (omega)-vs-time graphs, and angular-acceleration (alpha) graphs.
    – Be able to translate from one graph to another or to describe the motion in words based on the graph.
    – Find the average angular velocity using the slope of a “theta-t” graph.
    – Find the average angular acceleration using the slope of an “omega-t” graph.
    – Find the change in angular displacement using the area beneath an “omega-t” graph.
    – Find the change in angular velocity using the area beneath a “alpha-t” graph.

    So mu question is, do you recommend this approach or have any guidance? Thanks! Also, I have created all of these standards for this model, so if you are interested, let me know, I can send them to you.

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