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Standards Based Grading, Week 1

January 18, 2013

Day 1 (Monday):     Syllabus review and Screencastomatic

In all fairness, I hinted to my students at the end of last semester that there were changes coming this spring, so they new something was up.  Still, I thought things went pretty well.  They liked the idea of always being able to improve their scores on the standards.  There was some interest/concern over the screencasts and the ways that standards could be submitted.  As this is the first go of things, I have to admit I’m interested to see how it is all going to work out, too.  I anticipate questions as soon as the first standards become active.

Demonstrating how Screencastomatic works seemed to help the mood of things.  Students were more at ease knowing that this application ran without requiring an install.  Plus, our lab has a SmartBoard and I told my students they could use it if they wish.

I emphasized my reasons for the shift to SBG (previous post) and that since was new to all of us, I’d be seeking their thoughts on it throughout the semester.

Day 2 (Tuesday):     Notes and demos instead of lab

Because Day 1 was consumed with syllabus, SBG discussion and a screencasting tutorial, today in lab we forged ahead with notes and demos.  Also, I have a meeting in OKC on Wednesday, so notes during the first lab was an intentional preemptive strike to stay on target.  By the end of things, standards 15.1 and 15.2 became active.  Class ran pretty smoothly.  I found myself referring to my list of standards more than my notes/text.

Class/lab began by collecting data with a Vernier sensor and looking at a y-position time plot of a hanging mass.  We were able to get a sense of what simple harmonic motion “is” (tough those words were not used).  Discussion of the data led to identifying what physical properties could (and could not) be determined from that kind of plot.  Then we looked at the Columbia Wave Machine (ca 1908, sporting its infamous “ether” waves!).

Also demonstrated the Air-Zooka.  I leveled with students and told them that I used to think it generated solitons, but am now pretty convinced its just a wave pulse.  If any of you readers have input on that tidbit, I’d appreciate it!

At the end of class, two students visited with me for a while about SBG.  Overall, they are interested in the concept.  One is even excited at the idea.  Though they are not convinced I’ll be able to keep up with all of the standards and the active times per student across all standards for the entire semester.  Can’t say as I blame them–I’m really going to have to be a better accountant of dates, due dates, assignments, etc.  The suggestion came up that the number of resubmits be limited to three times or so.

At the beginning of the class, I visited with students about this blog.  I asked for their permission to write about our experiences as a class.  They were ok with it, so it looks like I’ll give it a shot.  So long as I don’t get to swamped with things (or too wordy with posts!), I’m going to try to continue this open journal for the duration of the semester.  Last year my physics road signs got off to a great start but then died off.  I could have said it came to a Dead End, but that would have been a pretty lame joke . . .

Day 3 (Wednesday):     No class, students to brainstorm about their semester projects

Day 4 (Friday):     Example problems and SHM wrap-up discussion

Discussed the differences between systems that are periodic and those that exhibit SHM.  Also discussed damped vs. driven systems.  Most of this was conceptual.  A question of the standards came up: can examples used in class be submitted for standards.  Short answer: No.  Some background . . . one of the standards requires students to provide two examples of systems exhibiting SHM and two other examples of systems that are periodic, but do not exhibit SHM.  We talked about pendula, the infamous cat clock pendulum, a bouncing ball and a PASCO cart “bouncing” back and forth on a track.

Consider a system that is imaged by an open camera frame and a strobe light.  How would the object be imaged on the film?  Would this be representative of a Hooke’s law type force?  (x, v, a as functions of t)

We derived the velocity and acceleration expressions for the general wave function.  No big deal, just two derivatives.  The representation: (xt) = -Aω² y(xt) took students a moment to assimilate.

I feel as though I could have armed them more for tackling a standard.  “Discussing” and talking about plots of these functions is different from having them generate/look at real data themselves and function fit.  Classes earlier in the week were more meaningful than today’s, I thought.  With no class Monday due to holiday, we will have to spend lab on Tuesday looking at wave functions so they can see applications of this stuff.  Wave function for a vibrating string under tension???

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