This tag is associated with 11 posts

The Right Thing, Said Once

Prologue: I have been doing a lot of thinking this year about what I’ve learned so far about teaching physics (and about teaching high school students in general) both as general reflection and as part of solidifying my thoughts in preparation to look for a new physics teaching position for next school year. Occasional conversations … 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

SBG Cootie Catcher

Found in the physics classroom this spring: one standards-based grading focused cootie catcher (aka fortune teller, aka a lot of other names, I’m sure—check out the Wikipedia article about these things if you haven’t seen them before). The outside choices: Meet with Ms. O’Shea, Do nothing, Study, Retest on Sunday. The middle layer was blank … Continue reading

Effort vs Luck

Now that we are out of September, my students have enough work to do outside of class that I don’t need to assign any specific homework. Still, this view of in-class and out-of-class work is a huge paradigm shift for my students. Do they still have physics homework if there’s never anything “due” or that … Continue reading

Monkey Monkey Monkey

Sometimes when I talk about the way that I grade (or actually, sort of don’t grade) to other adults, they scoff at the lack of points. They say things like, “If I were taking a quiz that I knew didn’t affect my grade, I wouldn’t take it seriously. I would just write Monkey Monkey Monkey … Continue reading

Whiteboarding with Mistakes

Today was my first day of whiteboarding with one of my Honors Physics classes. My plan was to use The Mistake Game from the very beginning this year. I suspected it would help set the tone of normalizing mistakes and make students more comfortable. Brief interlude about the general structure of whiteboarding in my class. … Continue reading

Usefulness of Test Corrections

I’ve always had my students do test corrections. When I used to award points, I would give some out (or “back”) for doing good corrections. I asked my students to complete them without consulting peers (though they could use their notes and could talk to me). They also had to make a statement for each … Continue reading

Advice from former Honors Physics students

One of the handouts that comes in the binders that I give to students is some advice from past students. These bits of wisdom come from the course evaluations over the past few years. It’s really fascinating to see what they say (and for me to see how what they advise changes as my class … Continue reading

What should I know going into Honors Physics?

So, you’ve decided to take Honors Physics. I’m so excited for you! You probably already know that it’s going to be challenging, and you might be a little nervous since you don’t know what to expect yet. What should you know before you get there? You should know that you learn by making mistakes. You … Continue reading

How to Practice Physics (By Really Trying)

I want to do a better job of teaching my students how to practice physics. When I tell them which skills need work (see the SBG tag for more details), I want them to have some ideas about what it looks like to practice those skills. We say practice, not study: practice definitely means there’s … Continue reading


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