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Physics Objectives 2013

Here are my updated lists of objectives for the year (subject to change/grow as the year unfolds depending on how the pace goes). As always, feel free to borrow and modify these objectives for your own classes.

The Model Building page on this blog collects my posts about my paradigm experiments, the graphical representations we use, and anything else related specifically to how we build each model. I am hoping that link will be helpful in the case of confusion since I am not duplicating that information here. The comments, of course, are also available for questions/thoughts/complaints/etc.

Honors Physics

This class is about a 70/30 (%) mix of high school sophomores and juniors. The majority of the students are in Honors Algebra II/Trig, which is the same (essentially) as regular Precalculus (here). This list is pretty similar to last year’s, but a little sharper and more focused in some areas.

In the past few years, the semester exam (in January) has included everything through (including) energy transfer. The full 10 units are usually finished by around the start of spring break. The fourth quarter this year will include a culminating project/essay/exhibition/cool new thing (descriptive post coming, but probably not until the spring) and (hopefully) the Why is the Sky Blue? storyline (some Light Particle Model, Mechanical Wave Model, sound, etc—with more or less breadth depending on the time remaining) since it’s a crowd pleaser (and great way to end the year).

Vectors
V.1  A  I treat vectors and scalars differently and distinguish between the two.
V.2  A  I can graphically add and subtract vectors.
V.3  A  I can break a vector into components.
V.4  B  I can use a graphical vector construction to calculate 2-D kinematics quantities.

Constant Velocity Particle Model (CVPM)
CVPM.1  A  I can draw and interpret diagrams to represent the motion of an object moving with a constant velocity.
CVPM.2  B  I differentiate between position, distance, and displacement.
CVPM.3  B  I can solve problems using the constant velocity particle model.

Balanced Forces Particle Model (BFPM)
BFPM.1  A  I draw properly labeled free body diagrams that show all forces acting on an object.
BFPM.2  A  When given one force, I can describe its N3L force pair.
BFPM.3  A  I relate balanced/unbalanced forces to an object’s constant/changing motion.
BFPM.4  B  I can use N1L to quantitatively determine the forces acting on an object moving at a constant velocity.
BFPM.5  B  I can draw a force vector addition diagram for an object experiencing no net force.

Constant Acceleration Particle Model (CAPM)
CAPM.1  A  I can draw and interpret diagrams to represent the motion of an object moving with a changing velocity.
CAPM.2  B  I can describe the motion of an object in words using the velocity-vs-time graph.
CAPM.3  B  I can solve problems using kinematics concepts.

Unbalanced Forces Particle Model (UBFPM)
UBFPM.1  A  I use multiple diagrams and graphs to represent objects moving at a changing velocity.
UBFPM.2  A  My FBDs look qualitatively accurate (balanced or unbalanced in the correct directions, relative sizes of forces).
UBFPM.3  B  I can solve problems using Newton’s 2nd Law.
UBFPM.4  B  I can draw a force vector addition diagram for an object experiencing a net force.

Momentum Transfer Model (MTM)
MTM.1  A  I can draw and analyze momentum bar charts for 1-D interactions (IF or IFF charts).
MTM.2  A  I treat momentum as a vector quantity.
MTM.3  B  I can explain a situation in words using momentum concepts.
MTM.4  B  I can use the conservation of momentum to solve 2-D problems.
MTM.5  B  I can use the relationship between the force applied to an object (or system) and the time duration of the force to calculate the impulse delivered to that object (or system)

Projectile Motion Particle Model (PMPM)
PMPM.1  A  I accurately represent a projectile in multiple ways (graphs, diagrams, etc).
PMPM.2  B  I can solve problems involving objects experiencing projectile motion.

Energy Transfer Model (ETM)
ETM.1  A  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).
ETM.2  A  I identify when the total energy of a system is changing or not changing, and I can identify the reason for the change.
ETM.3  B  I identify thermal energy as the random motion of the tiny particles of a substance.
ETM.4  B  I can use the conservation of energy to solve problems, starting from my fundamental principle.
ETM.5  B  I can use the relationship between the force applied to an object (or system) and the displacement of the object to calculate the work done on that object (or system).

Oscillating Particle Model (OPM)
OPM.1  B  I can draw/interpret motion, force, and energy graphs for an oscillating particle.
OPM.2  B  I identify simple harmonic motion and relate it to a linear restoring force.

Central Force Particle Model (CFPM)
CFPM.1  A  I can calculate the magnitude and direction of the acceleration for a particle experiencing uniform circular motion (UCM).
CFPM.2  B  I can use Newton’s 2nd Law to solve problems for a particle experiencing UCM.
CFPM.3  B  I can use the Universal Law of Gravitation to solve problems.
CFPM.4  B  I can use the conservation of energy to solve problems involving a significant change in the distance between an object and a planet.

Momentum Transfer and Energy Transfer, Part II (MTET)
MTET.1  A  I can qualitatively represent the energy stored before and after any collision.
MTET.2  B  I can determine whether or not a collision was elastic by analyzing the motion information.
MTET.3  B  I can solve a problem by employing two fundamental principles.

Physics!

This class is almost entirely juniors (this year and last year there has been only one senior in the class). Most students are also in the regular Precalculus class, though there is usually a good range (in the past it has ranged from Algebra 2 to Calculus BC in the same section).

I am trying out a new sequence this year. I’m not ready to write more details about it yet, but will certainly write more once I’ve tried it with my students. We will cycle back to energy and momentum transfer between unbalanced forces and projectile motion, and we will start testing on the italicized objectives from those units after that time.

Energy Transfer Model (ETM)
ETM.1  A  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).
ETM.2  A  I identify when the total energy of a system is changing or not changing, and I can identify the reason for the change.
ETM.3  B  I identify thermal energy as the random motion of the tiny particles of a substance.
ETM.4  B  I can use the conservation of energy to solve problems, starting from my fundamental principle.
ETM.5  B  I can use the relationship between the force applied to an object (or system) and the displacement of the object to calculate the work done on that object (or system).

Constant Velocity Particle Model (CVPM)
CVPM.1  A  I can draw and interpret diagrams to represent the motion of an object moving with a constant velocity.
CVPM.2  B  I differentiate between position, distance, and displacement.
CVPM.3  B  I can solve problems using the constant velocity particle model.

Momentum Transfer Model (MTM)
MTM.1  A  I can calculate the momentum of an object (or system) with direction and proper units.
MTM.2  B  I can draw and analyze momentum bar charts for 1-D interactions (IF or IFF charts).
MTM.3  B  I treat momentum as a vector quantity.
MTM.4  B  I can explain a situation in words using momentum concepts.
MTM.5  B  I can use the relationship between the force applied to an object (or system) and the time duration of the force to calculate the impulse delivered to that object (or system)

Balanced Forces Particle Model (BFPM)
BFPM.1  A  I draw properly labeled free body diagrams that show all forces acting on an object.
BFPM.2  A  When given one force, I can describe its N3L force pair.
BFPM.3  B  I relate balanced/unbalanced forces to an object’s constant/changing motion.
BFPM.4  B  I can use N1L to quantitatively determine the forces acting on an object moving at a constant velocity.
BFPM.5  B  I can draw a force vector addition diagram for an object experiencing no net force.

Constant Acceleration Particle Model (CAPM)
CAPM.1  A  I can draw and interpret diagrams to represent the motion of an object moving with a changing velocity.
CAPM.2  B  I can describe the motion of an object in words using the velocity-vs-time graph.
CAPM.3  B  I can solve problems using kinematics concepts.

Unbalanced Forces Particle Model (UBFPM)
UBFPM.1  A  I use multiple diagrams and graphs to represent objects moving at a changing velocity.
UBFPM.2  B  My FBDs look qualitatively accurate (balanced or unbalanced in the correct directions, relative sizes of forces).
UBFPM.3  B  I can solve problems using Newton’s 2nd Law (Fnet = ma).
UBFPM.4  B  I can draw a force vector addition diagram for an object experiencing a net force.

Projectile Motion Particle Model (PMPM)
PMPM.1  A  I accurately represent a projectile in multiple ways (graphs, diagrams, etc).
PMPM.2  B  I can solve problems involving objects experiencing projectile motion.

Central Force Particle Model (CFPM)
CFPM.1  A  I can calculate the magnitude and direction of the acceleration for a particle experiencing uniform circular motion (UCM).
CFPM.2  B  I can use Newton’s 2nd Law to solve problems for a particle experiencing UCM.
CFPM.3  B  I can use the Universal Law of Gravitation to solve problems.
CFPM.4  B  I can use the conservation of energy to solve problems involving a significant change in the distance between an object and a planet.

Last year’s post: Honors Physics 2012 Objectives

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About Kelly O'Shea

I teach high school kids physics at an independent day school in NYC. Less homework, more thinking. Follow @kellyoshea

Discussion

41 thoughts on “Physics Objectives 2013

  1. Hi Kelly,

    I notice that the majority of your objectives are the same for your honors and regular physics classes. Could you, please, elaborate on how you differentiate between the two levels? Thanks!

    Posted by Jim | August 11, 2012, 3:51 PM
    • Hi Kelly – I’m with Jim. I’m especially curious about (a) why you chose to skip vectors for non-honors physics, and (b) Why Energy Transfer is up front. Thanks!

      P.S. I’m a new reader here. After finding your blog last week, and purchasing the MI curriculum yesterday, I am increasingly excited about this year (which is my 1st year teaching freshman physics). Thanks for all you do.

      Posted by Scott S. | August 12, 2012, 11:29 AM
      • Hey Scott,

        I just replied to Jim below. I didn’t talk about vectors very specifically, though, so I’ll do that here—

        We definitely do use vectors in the regular class. Specifically, we use the ideas of vector vs scalar with respect to things like velocity vs speed (etc) throughout the year. We also do graphical vector addition as our way of solving force problems (the forces add graphically to 0 N if they are balanced or to ma if they are unbalanced). We don’t do 2-D kinematics or momentum, though, so we don’t do vector subtraction specifically. Because the vector operations in the regular class are really closely tied to specific content, I didn’t pull those ideas out to test and keep track of separately for them (hence the absence from the objective list).

        Thank you for the nice comment (and welcome to the blog!). Have you had a chance to take a Modeling Workshop yet? I was a little confused what you meant when you said you purchased the curriculum.

        Posted by Kelly O'Shea | August 13, 2012, 7:47 AM
        • I haven’t had a chance to take a modeling workshop yet but rumor has it they’ll be setting something up in San Diego soon. Otherwise I may try to go to Northern California for one. As for the curriculum, I was referring to me purchasing a membership from modelinginstruction.org.

          Posted by Scott S. | August 15, 2012, 10:21 AM
          • Aha. If you can make it to one next summer, you should definitely try to go. The worksheets aren’t really Modeling. It’s the different way of constructing the class (experiments to find relationships instead of verify them, whiteboarding, etc) and the different way of students organizing their understandings (in terms of models, like experts do, instead of in terms of chapters or equations or types of problems, like beginners do). Even with the teacher notes, it can be tough to get the big ideas of Modeling on your own.

            Posted by Kelly O'Shea | August 15, 2012, 12:41 PM
    • That’s a great question, Jim.

      I’ve done a lot of thinking over the past couple of years on the difference between the honors and regular levels of physics at my school. Because the honors class is mainly sophomores and the regular class is for juniors, the students actually aren’t far apart in math—Algebra II Honors and Regular Precalculus basically cover the same material here.

      Here are the main differences (as I see them):
      (1) Honors Physics goes much faster. They generally cover about the same amount of ground in the first semester that the regular class does over the entire year (7 models). As a result, Honors Physics ends up getting to do a lot more in the spring. I don’t assess everything we do in the spring, so it’s not all represented in the objectives list.
      (2) Honors Physics has a little more depth here and there. Specifically, they can deal with more complex unbalanced force situations (acceleration that isn’t all horizontal or all vertical), they do 2-D momentum, there is more depth to their central force unit (ULG and gravitational energy—I’ve optimistically listed those in the regular physics objectives this year, but that would be a first for them), they get into the ideas of elastic and inelastic collisions and deal with problems that are much more complicated (solutions that involve multiple changes in fundamental principle as they work through them).

      What do you think? Defining the difference between the two classes has been a challenge for me since I’ve been here. I’m also now struggling a bit with the regular class feeling like a watered down version of the honors class (to the students who compare what they are doing with what some of their friends are doing in honors). That issue was part of what has precipitated the experiment with a wildly different sequence for regular physics this year.

      Posted by Kelly O'Shea | August 13, 2012, 7:44 AM
  2. Hi Kelly,

    Do you think CVPM.1 and CAPM.1 might be too broad? In my initial list of standards for this year I separated these into the following:

    1. Draw and interpret motion maps…
    2. Draw position vs. time graphs…
    3. Draw velocity vs. time graphs…
    4. Interpret position vs. time graphs…
    5. Interpret velocity vs. time graphs…

    Now I’ve never taught Physics with SBG (although I’ve been teaching Engineering with SBG for years). So I was wondering, in your experience, do you feel that combining these skills into one standard gives you and the kids specific enough information about what they need to work on? Would a more precise picture emerge with more standards or are they too interconnected to tease out different areas of understanding?

    I also considered combining this (or these) standard(s) across the CVPM and CAPM units since the skills are the same just more complex with the CAPM. Have you thought about this?

    Posted by Steven Carpenter | August 13, 2012, 1:11 PM
    • Hi Steven,

      Great question. I’ve used those two objectives (CVPM.1 and CAPM.1) for two years now, and I have found them to be useful the way that they are. In my experience, my students wouldn’t be helped by separating them out.

      For CVPM.1, it’s not much of an issue. This objective becomes a trivial one for them very quickly, and separating it out would just make more clutter on their ActiveGrade. Well, actually, they’d like more green bars, probably, but, you know. It is an A objective, and in my system, it wouldn’t have any effect on the grade to increase the number of A objectives. Every student masters all of them by the end of the term (ideally, and so far, basically factually).

      CAPM.1 is tougher, but here’s the thing—I don’t usually see that students can consistently draw one flavor of graph while consistently not being able to draw another. They understand them in concert with each other, and I want them to be able to use them in a connected way. So I wouldn’t want to split them into pieces. The only reason I can see for splitting them apart as separate objectives would be if I were teaching students who wouldn’t ever be able to do them except in an isolated way (I’m not sure that such students exist). In that case, though, much of the rest of the curriculum would also be beyond their reach. If they can’t draw and interpret CAPM graphs as a collective tool, they won’t be able to do much in unbalanced forces (etc, etc).

      Anyway, what I meant to say about CAPM.1 is that I don’t think you’d actually get a more precise picture, though you might think that it was when you looked at it. I think that if any of the sub-ideas were not at a “yes”, then it would be likely that all the rest of them were also flickering back and forth between “yes” and “no”, even if they were “yes” in a particular snapshot. Except for students needing to isolate A objectives at the end of a term (when I have to put in a number grade), I don’t give questions that only test one objective. I want, all the time, for them to be doing these things together. I think with objectives that get over-grained (if that makes sense), it might be easier to slip into testing them in a more isolated fashion (especially on student-initiated tests), which wouldn’t be as good of tests (and which wouldn’t set them up for the same kind of success later in the class).

      Finally, a good reason for graining them more would be that, even though you wouldn’t test them in isolation, you want the feedback to direct them to practice particular skills in isolation. In this case, I wouldn’t want them to practice drawing the graphs in isolation. I want them to practice the graphs in a connected way.

      Sorry for such a long response—your question was good and I had to write to think my way through it! :)

      Posted by Kelly O'Shea | August 13, 2012, 4:11 PM
  3. Thanks for the thoughtful response. I see what you mean about not wanting to assess these skills in isolation.

    So, for argument’s sake, how about going the opposite way and combining the CVPM and CAPM that are assessing the same skills?

    Posted by Steven Carpenter | August 13, 2012, 8:01 PM
    • Another great question.

      I’ve definitely thought about it. I think it ends up creating more complexity in the understanding of what is happening for the students, though. It would have to be an objective that starts out pretty easy, then suddenly gets much more complicated a few weeks later (I teach balanced forces between constant velocity and constant acceleration). I think it might create a feel of unfairness for some students who felt like they mastered something, only for it to be taken away (few students show consistent mastery over new objectives).

      I’ve mainly thought about this in a sense of collapsing old objectives into larger chunks after some time (in the second semester, maybe). It just seemed like a bit more trouble than value, though.

      What do you think?

      Posted by Kelly O'Shea | August 14, 2012, 7:05 AM
      • I guess what got me thinking along the lines of combining the CV and CA standards is that my SBG system has always been based on a four point scale (1 = No idea; 2 = Developing; 3 = Proficient; and 4 = Mastery) where 3 is passing and the final grade is determined by how many 4s you achieve.

        On this scale I am leaning toward making the CV part of the standard the criteria for proficiency and the CA part necessary for mastery. Something like this:

        4 – Correctly draw and interpret diagrams to represent the motion of an object moving with a CONSTANT ACCELERATION.
        3 – Correctly draw and interpret diagrams to represent the motion of an object moving with a CONSTANT VELOCITY.
        2 – Makes errors in drawing or interpreting diagrams to represent the motion of an object moving with a constant velocity.
        1 – Cannot draw or interpret diagrams to represent the motion of an object moving with a constant velocity.

        I think setting up the standards like this might eliminate the need for A and B level standards. The B standards end up growing out of the A standards. I’m going to play around with this a little more today and post something for you and your readers to take a look at…

        Posted by Steven Carpenter | August 14, 2012, 10:18 AM
        • Hmm. This is really interesting. I’ll have to think about it some more, and I’ll be interested to see what else you come up with. I think that kind of scale might take some edge off of the “unfairness” feeling that students might get with the way I was thinking about it before.

          Just my first thoughts of trying to extend this—

          I wonder whether it would make sense to do this for every standard. I think some of the B objectives depend on several different A objectives, so it might not all be as straight-forward as this one. Many of the B objectives depend on the same A objectives (like— being able to solve central force problems, balanced force problems, and unbalanced force problems all depend on being able to draw free body diagrams (among other skills)).

          Some of the other relationships might be less straight-forward, too, like explaining momentum concepts in words.

          I feel very strongly attached to the binary idea, and it would take a lot for me to want to move to a 4-point scale instead, though this sort of idea that you’re describing is so different from the traditional 4-point scale that I would like to think about it some more. And of course, others might find it more useful for their particular situations, too.

          Looking forward to a broader draft of it! :)

          Posted by Kelly O'Shea | August 14, 2012, 10:34 AM
          • So here’s the full draft of the standards “collapsed” using a 4-point scale: http://goo.gl/oIAJJ.

            You were right in that some of the “A” standards could not be collapsed, so I was left with a kind of hybrid in which each section has a couple of standards where the maximum level will be a 3 and then others where the maximum level will be a 4. Compared to the A and B standards I don’t think this is any more complicated for the students.

            I really like the continuity this introduced in the motion and forces sections. Accelerated motion is represented as the same idea as constant velocity, just a little more complex; likewise with balanced and unbalanced forces.

            In a lot of places I was also able to separate calculations and problem solving (ex. Level 3 – Calculate impulse; Level 4 – Use impulse to solve problems), this makes a lot of sense to me in a Bloom’s Taxonomy/Depth of Knowledge kind of way.

            The total number of standards was also reduced from 39 to 24 (not counting all of my extra, non-physics standards that you see at the bottom of the sheet). For me this is a huge deal when I’m tracking these for 60-something students.

            Like I mentioned I’ve never done Physics with SBG, so I may be overlooking some huge complication. So what do you think?

            Posted by Steven Carpenter | August 14, 2012, 12:00 PM
            • This is going to be a long reply. Lots more thinking that you’re provoking, here! :)

              Hmm. This is really interesting. I’ve looked at it a bit (but probably need to look at it longer and more closely). Right now, I’ve noticed that some of the A and B skills have switched places, some of have been split into parts (creating a larger number of objectives). I’m not sure whether some of these differences are because they are based on the objectives for your class (I’d never have an objective requiring students to solve kinematics problems, force problems, or really any problems using equations, for example—graphical methods for the win!), or whether they were artifacts of trying to fit into the 3->4 scheme.

              Translation Artifacts

              In terms of the number of objectives, I know you’re thinking of a 3->4 pair as one, but it’s actually a set of two skills (which sometimes aren’t as closely related to each other as the graph skills were). From the student point of view, the number of bars on ActiveGrade (or wherever) might be smaller, but the number of skills hasn’t really changed. Actually, I only counted 37 on yours, so if I had 39 before, many of mine must have gone away somehow (especially since some extra ones were added, like the “solve with equations” ones).

              I think there are some places where the 3->4 idea doesn’t make as much sense as it did with constant velocity graphs to constant acceleration graphs. For example, I don’t think solving unbalanced force problems is a step beyond solving balanced force problems. I think they are basically on equal footing and are both problem solving, not core, objectives.

              In your Mom3, and in my experience, it is very likely that students would be proficient at the level 4 skill and not proficient at the level 3 skill at the same time. Explaining in words (at least, the thing I mean by that, which might not be clear here) is much, much more difficult than solving a quantitative problem.

              Calculate

              I don’t think I have a lot of “calculate” objectives. I did a quick search to see where I used that verb, and I see that those objectives might not be clear. They are generally B objectives, and they are referring to using a graph (like a force-position or force-time graph) to solve problems where the energy (or momentum) changes due to an outside net force. These are definitely problem solving objectives. In earlier iterations, I’ve had more objectives for calculations. I’ve found those to be very trivial, so they’ve been weeded out of the lists.

              Is it conjunctive?

              Okay. The points above are pretty easily fixable, but there’s a more fundamental thing that is nagging at me. I think that this shift to the 3->4 split drops the idea of conjunctive grading.

              I know that it is meaning to put the As as 3-levels and the Bs as 4-levels, but I think in the translation, that doesn’t quite work. For example—Both CAPM.1 and CVPM.1 for me are A objectives. That is, no one can pass the class until they have mastered those objectives. Now, one is a 3-level and the other is a 4-level. If a student needs all 3s to pass the class (corresponding to needing to master all A objectives in my class), that would no longer include some things that are essential (like drawing CAPM graphs), but would include some things that weren’t (some of the B objectives that have been sorted down to the 3-level for concept symmetry). In my class right now, students can pass without ever being able to solve a problem. Note: That never happens. But still, it is sort of the philosophy—the graphical representations are the most important part of the physics. Focus there, then move on to solving problems. You must be able to consistently draw FBDs when you leave me, even if you can’t always follow them all the way to a quantitative answer on every problem.

              The A objectives point to what is most crucial to the class, describe the skills one must have before trying to solve problems, and give some direction to students feeling overwhelmed at the number of things they need to learn.

              Which brings me to this question—I’m curious about whether you see the A/B system as being very complicated? I think it would be rather complicated using a 4-point scale. I’ve noticed that especially when talking to other teachers who are trying to combine the conjunctive grading with a 4-point scale. It’s very straight-forward using a binary scale.

              New Idea! Combo!

              If you’re wanting a hybrid of conjunctive grading and the 4-point scale, this idea just occurred to me—why not identify the core objectives (what I’ve called A objectives), and grade those in a binary way. If students must master them in order to pass the class, then you just need to know yes/no on them. Then the more advanced or problem-solving objectives (what I call B objectives) could be graded on a 4-point scale if that felt more comfortable for your situation (in that you’ve used it before). On your list, many of my B objectives have ended up on both sides of the 3->4 split—so it might make sense to use this 3->4 split idea in this scheme, too, but only with the advanced objectives. The default would be for mastery on a skill to mean a 4, but there might occasionally also be another, related skill tucked into that one at the 3 level.

              So perfect mastery at the end of the year would be having a “yes” on all core skills (obviously) and all 4s on the problem solving objectives.

              That seems pretty solid to me. Of course, there is still work to be done in defining the B objectives (or whatever you’d call them), but I think that the overall idea is pretty clear and a little bit less complicated than before. And of course, you might not actually be interested in the conjunctive part, in which case, this idea probably doesn’t seem quite as great. ;)

              Okay, I’d better stop writing now. Longest comment to date award, please? :)

              Posted by Kelly O'Shea | August 14, 2012, 1:49 PM
              • Wow. Thanks for taking a look at that and devoting so much time to think/write about it. I see your point on the issues you pointed out directly, and I agree that most of them could probably be ironed out. All my experience with SBG is with a 4-point scale, and while the the idea of conjunctive grading strikes me as having some merit, it also bugs me for some reason I can’t express. I’m going to have to do some more looking into this conjunctive grading philosophy, then come back to and take another look at this issue.

                Thanks again for the thought provoking conversation. To be continued…

                Posted by Steven Carpenter | August 14, 2012, 2:51 PM
                • Do you think it is the conjunctive part that is bothering you or the binary part?

                  When you get a chance to reflect on it more, I’d love to hear what you are thinking.

                  Posted by Kelly O'Shea | August 14, 2012, 4:59 PM
                  • After reading a bit about conjunctive grading and reflecting on my SBG philosophy, I definitely have come down pro-conjunctivism (you can imagine what autocorrect just did to that phrase!). The idea that some standards are must-meets while others are kind of the icing on the cake makes complete sense. So as you guessed, my issue is really with binary grading.

                    Before I try to lay out my thinking with an example, I better define what I mean by a standard, or more precisely the definition I lifted from Grant Wiggins’ blog. A complete standard is made up of three parts:

                    1. The content says what students must know.
                    2. The process says what students should be able to do.
                    3. A performance standard says how well students must do it and in what kind of complex performance.

                    If I take one of your standards, say “I can solve problems using the constant velocity particle model.” The content (CVPM) and the process (solve problems) are clearly defined, but the performance is not indicated.

                    The big unanswered question is what kind of problems? How complex of a constant velocity problem must students consistently solve to show mastery of this standard? Straight-forward word problems? Tricky word problems? Non-contextualized goalless problems? Problems where the students must take their own measurements? …

                    This problem is easily remedied by providing a few examplars of the types of problems students are expected to solve to show mastery. Which I am sure you have in mind, if not in writing. Fine…

                    …but here is where I get uncomfortable with binary grading. When I’m making a test for this standard, do I include only problems at the complexity-level of my exemplars? This doesn’t seems to make sense, I think you would agree that I get a better picture of student understanding of I include some easier CVPM problems and some harder CVPM problems.

                    Now consider three students. Student A consistently gets all of the problems correct, she’s obviously mastered this standard. Student B consistently gets all of the problems incorrect, she’s obviously not mastered this standard. Now my dilemma, Student C consistently gets the easier CVPM problems correct and consistently gets the harder CVPM problems incorrect. I propose that student C deserves to have her partial mastery of this B standard recognized.

                    I hope I write that clearly enough to get my point across. I’m going to continue to try to work out some system that is conjunctive while taking into account that there are different levels of performance on the more complex “B standards.” I’ll continue to post my efforts on the document I linked to above (and below).

                    P.S. In the mean time, I went back and took another crack at those revised standards and I think I addressed some of your more minor concerns (http://goo.gl/oIAJJ).

                    Posted by Steven Carpenter | August 14, 2012, 10:11 PM
                    • Aha!

                      Okay, so here’s how I feel about how binary grading should work (this is what I try to do in my classes)—basically, on any assessment, I’m looking for any scrap of evidence at all that a student hasn’t fully mastered a skill. If there’s any evidence at all that they haven’t mastered it, then I definitely want to see them do it again (in a new context with a problem that looks very different to them, though it probably doesn’t look very different to me). I want to keep seeing them do it again (with support and coaching from me and outside practice by them in between) until I can no longer find any evidence that they haven’t mastered it. Scores fluctuate up and down as they are learning. Scoring a “yes” one time doesn’t mean you’ve mastered it. Your score could easily be “no” next time. That’s just what it’s like while you’re learning, especially since I can’t give hugely in depth tests every day to come at it from every angle.

                      So, in response to your “what kind of problem” question—yes. Everything. They have to be able to do do it in any situation, at any level, all the time. Every objective is tested many, many times during the year, so I don’t have to worry about any particular question being “too easy” or “too hard”.

                      Another thing to be careful of—never test in a way that each question only tests one objective. In fact, I’d say that, as much as you can, never make any question test only one objective. They need to be able to use these skills in concert with one another. Here, the “partial credit” analogy is not about being able to do simpler problems, but not harder ones. It’s about being able to draw the FBD, but not get the relative sizes of the forces correct. It’s about being able to identify when the energy of the system is changing, but not being able to calculate it quantitatively. Etc, etc.

                      Student C hasn’t mastered CVPM. Student C needs coaching and support. Student C can do it, and I’m not willing to tell him that he’s at a point where he can be satisfied with “good enough”. It’s a 1. I want to see you do one more.

                      So part of the binary thing is having these high expectations, and the knowledge that each kid can meet them just permeating through every test, every interaction, etc. I will keep helping you as long as you want to keep working to get there, but I’m not letting you get halfway and be satisfied with that. When they’re starting to get the problems some of the time, I want them hungry for getting the problems all of the time. They can see the top of the mountain, now. It’s within reach!

                      I think, in some ways, the 4-point scale thing is trying to cling a little to the number grade stuff, still (it’s just so ingrained, having probably experienced nothing but that in our own school experiences, or in our students’ experiences so far). And I think it might also be calming worries about every student getting 100 in the class, or something. I can assure you that not every student will get 100 in the class, even with a binary scale (so long as your standards are significant in depth). Even though my “100” is really 90 (because the final 10 points of the grade come from going beyond the objectives), not every student even gets to the 90. They definitely all could, if they all prioritized learning physics and spent enough time with it, but they don’t all make that choice (though, recently, almost everyone in Honors Physics at least is getting there, as you’d probably expect).

                      Posted by Kelly O'Shea | August 15, 2012, 6:07 AM
  4. Hi Kelly,

    I have some questions/thoughts about: CVPM.2 B I differentiate between position, distance, and displacement.

    I use a similar standard, “kin.1 can differentiate between vectors and scalars.” This would usually apply to distance/displacement, speed/velocity. What I found was that specific questions which assess this standard are quite trivial – although that didn’t seem to stop many students from not mastering it the first time. The difficult part was coming up with a new question other than the obvious.

    The other thing I struggled with was that each time a student answered a question asking for velocity, acceleration, force, momentum…, they should include a direction. Even though these questions did not specifically name the standard kin.1, I wondered if I should be constantly updating this standard for every question that it appeared.

    For example, if a question on kinematics has an answer for velocity without direction, does this get mistake get assessed against CVPM.3 or assessed against V.1?

    cheers!
    Doug

    Posted by bcphysics | August 14, 2012, 2:32 PM
    • Hey Doug,

      These are good questions. I think at those times, you have to make a call as the teacher about what the evidence in front of you means. I never test vector objectives in an isolated fashion. But I also don’t always take data for the vector objectives every time that students use vectors. If you think that the error on a problem was due to a misunderstanding of the difference between vectors and scalars, then you definitely want to record that. If you think it was a misunderstanding about velocity or momentum or force or acceleration (etc), then you definitely want to record that. It could possibly be both. Most of the time, though, the misunderstanding about the newer physics concept means that the current quiz doesn’t tell me anything useful one way or the other about the student’s relationship with vectors. In that case, I wouldn’t record anything for vectors, but I might make a mental (or even written) note that I need to check in on how they are using vectors again sometime soon (like next week’s quiz, or something like that).

      Does that help?

      Kelly.

      Posted by Kelly O'Shea | August 14, 2012, 4:45 PM
      • Hi Kelly, thanks for the reply. That is a good way to look at it. For the most part, this is how I approached it in a practical sense. I would make comments and give feedback on the importance of specifying a direction, but rarely did I go back and update a standard. I like keeping a bigger picture of how each problem is assessed, and not resort to too much reductionism.

        When you present a question on a quiz, do you define which standards/learning objectives apply to the question? I’ve been doing this, and if nothing else it helps set boundaries for exactly what standard is assessed and reduces or eliminates squabbles on returned quizzes. I think while writing, most students don’t focus on the standards, they concentrate on the problem and how it forms in their minds.

        Posted by bcphysics | August 20, 2012, 12:59 PM
  5. Thanks Kelly, and other posters. This discussion has been very helpful for me. It addressed some points about SBG that I’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking about myself.

    On the issue of fine graining that you and Steven discussed above:

    I’ve found that it works better to have fewer, more broadly-worded standards than a lot of very specific standards. For example, in my calculus class last year, I ended up with 59 standards, which was way too many. And I had planned to have even more, before I realized during the course of the year that the list was going to be unmanageable.

    Having too many standards makes it harder for me as a teacher to come up with assessments that are not simply a laundry-list of rote skills that need to be checked off. Perhaps surprisingly, it also makes combining standards in a single problem on a quiz more complex, because you have more items to juggle and arrange. Too many choices can be a bad thing.

    I guess one way to say it is that each standard should represent an idea, not a skill.

    Also, a long list of standards makes it harder for the student to figure out what to choose to study. When my students requested assessments this past year, I saw that some simply picked a few at random, because they didn’t really know where to begin. Whatever your system is, it should be easy for the student to understand and work with.

    Posted by Glenn Klakring | August 16, 2012, 1:13 PM
    • Hi Glenn, I completely agree. I plan on reducing the number of standards this year. Unfortunately the total number may still be unmanageable, but that’s because of the large amount of material that is covered!

      Posted by bcphysics | August 20, 2012, 1:01 PM
    • I’m a little confused about why a longer list of objectives would make it more difficult to create tests. If you’re still testing the same skills, just calling them by broader names, how can that help? If you make your objectives too broad, you might put yourself in the position of not testing them well. To fully test an objective, you might need two or three (or even more) pages worth of problems. To me, that seems more difficult than a more medium-ly “grained” list.

      Posted by Kelly O'Shea | August 21, 2012, 7:41 AM
      • Oh absolutely – the other extreme, with standards that are far too broad, would not work well. But in my first forays into SBG, I think I made my standards too specific. As a result, I had about 80 or 90 standards each for my precalculus and calculus classes at the beginning of last year. When I realized later that this wouldn’t work, I whittled those lists down.

        To give one example, in precalculus, I had two standards for being able to explain in words why a particular relation is (or isn’t) a function. One standard was for doing this with relations given as a graph, a table, etc, and one standard was for relations given as an equation. But you either know what a function is or you don’t. (And, except for being able to say “vertical line test”, I’ve found that beginning precalc students generally don’t know.)

        If you’re describing why something is or is not a function, it’s generally harder to do this for an equation than for a set of ordered pairs. But that’s because you’ve usually got to know some things about the relation itself. And that’s another standard, depending on the particular type of relation: conic, cubic, absolute value, etc. There’s no need to have another “what is a function” standard for each particular context. Unfortunately, that’s kind of what I was trying to do, at first.

        I think I was also trying too hard to make certain sets of standards behave like a progression, where the next standard was a “harder” version of the previous one. But it’s better to challenge my students by asking them to solve problems that combine multiple concepts. Like you, that’s something I want my students to be able to do.

        Posted by Glenn Klakring | August 21, 2012, 4:21 PM
  6. Hi Kelly,
    I was wondering if you could explain in more detail what you mean by V.4 B I can use a graphical vector construction to calculate 2-D kinematics quantities.
    Thanks!

    Posted by Leah Segal (@elbee818) | August 20, 2012, 12:34 PM
    • Hey Leah,

      I don’t think I actually even tested on that objective last year, though they did learn that skill. Here’s an example of something you should be able to do with that—take two velocities (that are in different, but not opposite, directions) and a ∆t and figure out the acceleration. Basically, be able to use vector addition/subtraction (but mostly subtraction) in context. Graphically. So, with a protractor instead of trig. I only do that with my Honors Physics classes.

      Kelly.

      Posted by Kelly O'Shea | August 21, 2012, 7:42 AM
  7. Hi Kelly,
    I am very positive of the way modeling physics deals with concepts like force and motion. I’ve been wondering though how it deals with less tangible concepts, say atomic physics. Most of my classes will be dealing with normal motion, but some also involve radioactivity or relativity. Guided excercises (‘thought experiments’) are a way, but it doesn’t really use the core of modeling: doing the experiments yourself. I wonder if you’ve had any experience with this and what your thoughts are.

    Posted by Rutger | August 21, 2012, 2:20 PM
    • Hah! These are good questions. I don’t think you’d want to do a paradigm experiment that lets students figure out radioactivity on their own for sure… :)

      I actually only really get to do mechanics with my classes since they are first year high school classes. I sometimes get a little bit into electrostatics or circuits, but not to any more modern topics. I think the guiding ideas of concept first, name second and of trying to figure out a relationship first (instead of verifying it later) could guide designing those sorts of units, even if the paradigm labs weren’t able to work as directly with the subject matter.

      Posted by Kelly O'Shea | August 22, 2012, 9:10 AM
  8. Hi Kelly! I was wondering if you could explain what you mean to be the difference between CAPM.1 and CAPM.2? It seems to me that interpreting velocity vs. time graphs could be a part of CAPM.1…

    Posted by Leah | January 13, 2013, 9:01 PM
    • Hey Leah,

      Yes, I guess CAPM.2 could really be considered part of CAPM.1. I’ve just found it useful to test them separately because students can describe the graph in words before they can consistently draw the graphs, or they can have problems with one of those skills but not the other. So the first one is more about drawing the graphs (from a prompt or by translating a given one into the matching other two).

      Does that help?

      Kelly

      Posted by Kelly O'Shea | January 14, 2013, 7:50 AM
      • Okay, I’m still not sure I understand. Would it be fair to say that CAPM.1 is more qualitative (general shapes of v vs. t graphs and matching graphs) while the CAPM.2 could be more quantitative – figuring out characteristics of a particular velocity vs. time graph (acceleration, displacement…)?

        Posted by Leah | January 23, 2013, 10:51 AM
  9. I’m such a neophyte. I wish I were mature enough in my practice to feel comfortable that my paradigm and scaffolding labs are effective “enough.” I always feel much more comfortable after I’ve read one of your most excellent narrated “Come on over in the next room and let’s look at this thing that’s been nagging at me…” posts.

    I am feeling the void of one of your narratives in the new ETM kickoff unit.

    Even though I’m not using it as a kickoff, I feel that my regular freshman conceptual physics class would be much better served by a set of experiences that you designed for an icebreaker than for the one you posted a while back. Any hope of your coming out with one of those soon?

    I feel sheepish asking for it. I know you have to teach your classes first and foremost… It’s just that your stuff is so useful!

    Thanks for all you do — especially these answers to posts. Your exchange about conjunctive grading, binary, 3->4, more standards, less standards and the balance of “graininess” is really useful. Kind of like in class, I imagine a post on all that would be less effective than the exchange. In the exchange we recognize ambiguity and misconceptions where we thought there was agreement and understanding. :-)

    You’re work is a treasure to teachers and their students. Thank you.

    Posted by uniformaccel | March 16, 2013, 4:34 PM
    • Wow! Thank you for the really kind comment.

      I’ve been really enjoying the reordered (energy-first) regular physics class this year. That said, it’s definitely far from being ready for a prime time debut. And I’m not sure how much I really liked how I did the intro to that first unit. If I were to do it again (not sure that I will really be doing it again because I am changing schools next year and won’t be teaching the exact same sort of class anymore), I would hope to spend some time reinventing it.

      What I basically did for the first day was set up a ramp, cart launcher (the “cheaper” spring cart launcher from PASCO), and cart. We gathered around to check it out, and made some observations about what happened when we released the cart. Then I asked them how I could make it more “exciting”, and then we tried a lot of different variations per their suggestions (steeper ramp—much less exciting, actually; compress the spring more—a lot more exciting, etc). Then we sort of talked around it for a bit, and in one class the idea of something being stored/transferred came out nicely. And then I segued into doing the flavors of energy bit (with the bowling ball, etc, that I talk about here: http://kellyoshea.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/common-types-of-energy-etm-cheat-sheet/

      I didn’t like that I spent so much of the first day doing the talking (so different from the general day-to-day of that class). I also didn’t like that we lost the immediate-jump-into-the-lab experience that we used to have on the first day of school (though they didn’t know what they were missing, of course). Anyway, the next thing is to jump into pie charts (a bit more of me talking to give them the new representation), then they finally got to do some talking, learning, and thinking by working on and whiteboarding some pie chart problems. Then we did LOL diagrams. Then we were ready to start designing experiments for figuring out the energy equations, except that we realized there were 8 or 9 variables and that we really knew nothing about velocity, gravity, etc. So we decided to learn about some other things with the long-term goal of coming back to eventually figure out useful equations for the different energy flavors. And that’s actually where we are right now in that class (in the middle of experiments).

      I hope that helps a bit!

      Posted by Kelly O'Shea | March 18, 2013, 3:53 PM
  10. Kelly,
    I am a newer physics teacher and thinking alot about what I should be teaching…..I looked at your objectives for general physics and don’t see light, electricity, sound, fluids, etc. I have trouble getting to these topics and wonder how you handle this. Thanks!

    Posted by Laura | July 26, 2013, 8:50 AM
    • Hey Laura,
      I think it comes down the tension between teaching a survey class and having students do science in class. I don’t think you can really have both (or at least I haven’t been able to go quite that quickly while using Modeling Instruction). In my honors classes (with sophomores), I have been able to get through mechanics (except rotation, which I don’t consider a first-year high school topic) by spring break each year for the past few years. That leaves time to do two more things. I’ve done light/sound/waves each year (but haven’t graded them—they are the physics dessert in the spring), and I’ve done a different thing each year before that (also usually not graded). So I don’t have objectives for the rest, though we do a lot more than what is stated in the objectives.

      I’m not sure whether or not that answered your question.
      Kelly

      Posted by Kelly O'Shea | July 28, 2013, 7:59 PM
      • Kelly,
        Thank you for the reply. I agree that it is very difficult to get through it all. I also have students complete either independent research projects (or in pairs, if they choose) or build it projects of their choice that are physics related. This helps with research skills, writing, reading, and science outcomes relating to students solving their own problems. With these projects, I move them deeper into statistical analysis, if it fits the scope of the project. I also love the conversations these projects foster with students. I bring in scientists from a local university to listen to the final projects and provide feedback. But, again……time. Does the modeling community have a solution for not getting to these topics? I am thinking of year 2 physics….or a third semester is in order. (Just thinking…). I really struggle with this issue….I guess I just love it all and have trouble dropping any of it. Does anyone else feel this way?

        It has been very nice reading your thoughts about teaching physics online. I am getting shower board at lowes soon! ;). Cheers!

        Laura

        Posted by Laura | July 28, 2013, 11:24 PM
        • It’s definitely tough to have to choose what you’ll investigate with the kids—the way that I think of it is that it’s definitely more fun for them to really do the physics than for me to tell them about it, even if that means that they won’t get to see as many things. Really learning and owning a few things is (in my opinion) much better than seeing (but not really learning or feeling ownership over) a whole lot of things. And they’re 15 years old—there’s time for them to learn many more things! :)

          Posted by Kelly O'Shea | August 17, 2013, 5:21 PM

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