Have you ever wanted to see how whiteboards are used in a classroom, to listen to cooperative groups in action, or how to use interaction diagrams? Often seeing is believing, and seeing new pedagogical techniques being used and discussed between students and teachers can be worth much more than pages of how-to descriptions. The goal of this archive is to provide high quality examples of how Ontario teachers have been putting education research into action.
expand all | collapse allContent: the ideas of speeding up, slowing down and the sign of the acceleration
Speeding Up Slowing Down lesson (pdf)
Pedagogy: multiple choice concept question, leading a demonstration, sense making, computer probe technology
Details: The introductory concept question helps to activate students' prior knowledge and refresh a concept from a few days prior. Part A of the investigation leads them through one example using slopes of the tangent to interpret a curved position graph and make a first prediction. A class discussion helps clarify these ideas and test their predictions. After this trial, they make predictions for four situations involving accelerated motion. As a class, we confirm their predictions and practice sense making: carefully describing what we see graphically and and deciding what it means physically. Students use these results to develop the ideas of speeding up, slowing down and their relationship with velocity and acceleration. Finally we make the connection between the direction (sign) of the acceleration and force.
Content: freefall motion up and down
Pedagogy: leading a demonstration, sense making, overcoming misconceptions, computer probe technology
Details: Students begin with simple observations of freefall motion to consider the role of air resistance and to describe the motion of a falling ball. We use a motion detector to study the motion in detail and clarify our understanding. Then the students return to their observations, but this time of a ball travelling upwards. Again we return to the motion detector to carefully analyze this motion and flesh out the concept of freefall acceleration. An important feature of this lesson are the initial observations students make, which help them to become aware of their corrent thinking about freefall motion. Then we use experimental results to reinterpret what they saw and modify their understanding.
Content: review lesson covering a variety of ideas from the motion unit
Pedagogy: multiple choice concept questions, whiteboard homework circuit
Details: This lesson starts with a series of concept questions (Peer Instruction) that cover a variety of topics in the motion unit. You will see the variety of levels of discussion that the concept questions generate. Next the students use whiteboards to write-up sections of their solutions for two homework problems. Students then walk around the classroom and make improvements to their own written work and circle work on the whiteboard that requires clarification. I lead a final discussion of the solutions.
Content: interactions, interaction diagrams, forces, 3rd law
Pedagogy: new groups, metacognition/goal setting, using a demonstration video, whiteboard sharing, hands-on experiments
Details: With the start of a new unit student find their new groups. I lead them through some reflection on how they are doing so far in physics and personal goals for the next unit. The lesson begins using a YouTube video to help them think about the evidence supports our belief that objects are interacting. The interaction idea is deeper than forces and helps lay the foundation for clear reasoning about the existence of forces and the third law. In the second part of the investigation students start to measure forces and construct a force diagram.
Content: effect of a single force, Newton's 1st Law
Pedagogy: hands-on experiments, computer probe technology, building physical intuition
Details: Students practice exerting a single,constant force on a cart to help build their physical intuition of what a constant force is like and how it causes things to move. Students use a motion detector to compare their visual observations with the computer data. They reason about a single force slowing down an object and extrapolate their understanding to a zero force situation.
Content: effect of a multiple forces, net force principle, Newton's 1st Law, force diagrams, writing force equations
Pedagogy: hands-on experiments, leading demonstrations
Details: Using spring scales, students exert multiple forces on a cart. They explore the resulting motion and construct forces diagrams and net force equations. Further examples of multiple forces are demonstrated using a two-pulley Atwood machine. The resulting observations are compiled into a catalogue of force and motion situations which becomes Newton's 1st Law.
Content: review lesson covering a variety of ideas from the motion unit
Article about Instant Feedback Quizzes (pdf)
Pedagogy: turning quizzes into a learning experience (assessment for learning), metacognition
Details: When students finish the quiz, they come tot he front of the class and use a pen to mark-up their answers. They get immediate feedback on their work and understanding. I mark both their original answers and how well they have corrected their work. This process helps develop their metacognitive skills - the ability to monitor and assess the quality of their own work and learning.
Content: Newton's 2nd Law in 2D and vector components in force diagrams
Completed 2D Forces investigation (pdf)
Pedagogy: whiteboard sharing of work, experimental verification of understanding
Details: Students make simple predictions and measurements to build and test their understanding of forces with components. In the second half they do the same thing for forces on an incline.
Content: Newton's 2nd Law in 2D and vector components in force diagrams
Completed Understanding 2D Forces investigation (pdf)
Pedagogy: whiteboard sharing of work, experimental verification of understanding
Details:Students apply their understanding of forces in 2D to make predictions and explain the physics of different situations. An emphasis is made that these are not just mathematical techniques but useful tools that help us to explain and understand.
Content: Interactions, 3rd law force pairs
Completed Newton's 3rd Law investigation (pdf)
Pedagogy: whiteboard sharing of work, experimental verification of understanding
Details: This investigation begins with a review of Newton's 3rd Law using the ideas of interactions and 3rd law force pairs. Students use interaction diagrams to help draw force diagrams for different systems of objects that are interacting with one another.
Content: weight (Fg), apparent weight (Fn), and acceleration
Completed Elevators investigation (pdf)
Pedagogy: whiteboard sharing of work, experimental verification of understanding, intuition matching / refining
Details: This investigation leads students through an analysis of the sensation of weight (apparent weight) in an elevator ride. An important part of this lesson is matching the analytical results with students' experiences in an elevator. Basic ideas of Newton's first law are reinforced as we compare accelerated motion with constant velocity.
Content: constant velocity / accelerating frames, ficitious forces
Completed Frames of Reference investigation (pdf)
Pedagogy: using video demonstrations, concept questions
Details: This investigation begins with the best physics video ever made, the classic PSSC Frames of Reference film. I stop the film at key, frustrating, moments to allow student predictions and generate student discussion using multiple choice answer cards (Peer Instruction). At the end I take up a few key ideas since I was away the day before when the students worked on the investigation.
Content: tension, systems of objects, interaction diagrams
Completed Strings and Composite Objects investigation (pdf)
Pedagogy: creating physical models, group discussions, force misconceptions, internal forces, changing system
Details: This investigation begins with students creating a physical model (three spring scales) for forces in a string. They use this model to develop a basic understanding of how forces in a string behave. Next, are introduced to the idea of composite objects - a system objects that move with one common acceleration. Students use interaction diagrams to help them explore the underlying physics of the situation and construct force diagrams for individual parts of the system and collections of parts of the system. This reveals a very powerful problem solving technique: change choice of system to change forces between internal (not part of the 2nd law) and external. This finally explains the "external, unbalanced force" part of Newton's 1st law.
Content: tension, pulleys, Atwood machine
Pedagogy: prediction/verification, sign convention tricks, computer probe technology
Details: Students explore the effects of a pulley on the force of tension and tackle the classic two-pulley tension problem. Next, they make a prediction about the motion of an Atwood machine with equal and unqeual weights. Finally they construct force diagrams and equations to calculate the acceleration of the system. Their final result is verified using a motion detector to measure the velocity
Content: tension, pulleys, inclines, kinematics
Completed investigation (pdf)
Problem statement (pdf)
Pedagogy: cooperative group problem solving (CGPS), computer probe technology
Details: The "physics challenge", as we call it, is a cooperative group problem solving task that gives students a context-rich story-like) problem and a set-up of equipment. They must decide upon measurements to make, construct a clear physics question to answer, explain the physics of the situation, calculate a solution, and physically verify their result. In this challenge students are combining for the first time their understanding of motion, inclines, pulleys and tension.
Content: friction, interaction diagrams, systems, inclines
Pedagogy: prediction/verification, whiteboards
Details: The first goal of this investigation is understanding how friction can cause things to speed up. This builds up to the classic friction question: a box sits on a cart, how hard can you pull on the cart without the box slipping? Students work with interaction diagrams and changing systems to help reason through. The second goal is understanding friction on an incline. Students finish up by testing their prediction of the angle at which their object begins to slip.
Content: The grade 12 unit test on motion beginning with a group work component
Group Work Tests Article and Samples
Pedagogy: testing higher-order thinking skills, context rich problems, authentic forms of assessment
Details: During the first fifteen minutes of a test, students work in their regular three-person groups. They are given a version of the test question with all the important quantities necessary for calculations removed. Within their groups they discuss the problem and talk through a general plan for its solution. After the discussion phase, students work individually on the full test question which presents the same problem with the important numbers included. The students work through a detailed problem solving process as they prepare their solution.
A major goal of our physics program is helping students develop expert-like problem solving skills. We believe this testing process more closely models how experts work in academia and industry.
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Updated CM March April 18, 2015 |