Kelly O'Shea

I teach high school kids physics at an independent day school in NYC. Less homework, more thinking. Follow @kellyoshea
Kelly O'Shea has written 70 posts for Physics! Blog!

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 … Continue reading

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 … Continue reading

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 pageĀ on this blog collects my posts about my paradigm experiments, the graphical representations we use, … Continue reading

All-year Goal-less Problems for Physics Class

So. Josh* took my Honors Physics exam review activity and expanded it into something bigger and better. As I was reading his post, though, I started thinking about my regular physics classes. They would really like something like that. Of course, I also had to make it my own. I am curating a set of … Continue reading

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 … Continue reading

Whiteboarding Mistake Game: A Guide

The Mistake Game (which I’ll describe in more detail in just a moment) has become the default mode of whiteboarding (problems, not experiments) in my physics classes. I’ve written about it before (old links at the bottom of this post), but felt like I needed to write again, now that I’ve been using it almost … Continue reading

Dear New Teacher

In response to Bowman’s call for advice to new teachers, I wrote this letter. I love to talk about teaching, though I’m not sure anyone should really listen to me. I’m still working on knowing what I’m talking about. When it is ready, I will edit this post with a link to his master collection … Continue reading

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 … Continue reading

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 … Continue reading

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 … Continue reading


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