# Building the Constant Velocity Model

Here’s a binder. And the handshake. [As they walk in, I’m handing out their binders (with materials, labeled dividers, spare graph paper, their names on the sides) and shaking their hands as we make the transaction. I’ve seen some discussion in various places online about the appropriateness of shaking students’ hands on the first day of school.… Read More Building the Constant Velocity Model

# Empirical Force Laws: Spring Force Experiment

In the middle of our Balanced Forces unit, we do a couple of experiments to come up with equations for some of the types of forces we’ve been talking about while drawing qualitative free body diagrams. We tend to do them at the same time and to post-lab them together. I covered the gravitational force last… Read More Empirical Force Laws: Spring Force Experiment

# Empirical Force Laws: Gravitational Force Experiment

In the middle of our Balanced Forces unit, we do a couple of experiments to come up with equations for some of the types of forces we’ve been talking about while drawing qualitative free body diagrams. We tend to do them at the same time and to post-lab them together. I’ll split them over two… Read More Empirical Force Laws: Gravitational Force Experiment

# Energy Pie Charts

The stage is set. We started building the energy transfer model (ETM), and we’ve talked about the flavors of energy. We are ready for a new representation to help us start thinking about energy storage in a system. In a day or two, we’ll be using energy bar charts, but first, we’ll get used to… Read More Energy Pie Charts

# Balanced Forces before Constant Acceleration

I know you’ve been there. Stuck in the doldrums of kinematics. “It’s against the law to think in the doldrums!” So there you are. Stuck in description-land. The juicy parts of physics (explain and predict) are far away and out of reach. You can easily spend ages and ages there. The students start to think… Read More Balanced Forces before Constant Acceleration

# Updated Advice from Former Physics Students

One of my favorite pages that comes included in the new (delicious) binders I hand to students on the first day of school is the Advice from Past Students handout. Everything included on the page is actual advice from actual former students (contributed through course evaluations). For the 2013 crew, I’ve changed the layout to… Read More Updated Advice from Former Physics Students

# May Course Evaluations: What did you learn in physics class this year?

Next up on the May course evaluation tour: The most important things about this year’s physics classes. These responses are always some of my favorite to read. I’m also including the answers to the question “What are you most proud of with respect to your work in physics class this year?” These responses are typically… Read More May Course Evaluations: What did you learn in physics class this year?

# May Course Evaluations: Standards-Based Grading Feedback

Part 2 of my May course evaluation reflection is centered on standards-based grading (SBG). I’ve just wrapped up year 2 of this radical change in my assessment philosophy and procedure. It has been a huge success. Instead of posting every response, I will just post the best (in terms of feedback, not necessarily the best… Read More May Course Evaluations: Standards-Based Grading Feedback

# Extra Tests, Bundled Objectives, and Changes for Next Year

Exam writing is looming just around the corner (May 30th is the big day this year). In response, I am turning to the traditional writing-procrastination technique: entertaining ideas about possible changes for next year’s classes (procrastinating on writing advising letters two years ago resulted in my moving to standards-based grading in the first place, so it… Read More Extra Tests, Bundled Objectives, and Changes for Next Year

# LinReg for physics class data graphing

What is LinReg and how can I get it? Note: This is not meant to be an advertisement. I was in no way solicited by, nor am I affiliated with, the creator of the program. This is a recommendation and love letter about a tool that has made a huge difference in my classes this… Read More LinReg for physics class data graphing