student work

This tag is associated with 10 posts

What if we didn’t finish all of the questions?

My Physics 10 (a trimester-long class exploring E&M topics for 10th graders who haven’t yet studied mechanics) was wrapping up some extensions to an electrophorus activity. They were already pros at explaining and predicting electrostatic phenomena, but this activity gave them yet another way to test out their thinking, practice their charge diagrams, and add depth and subtlety … Continue reading

Mechanics: 3 Fundamental Principles

So you’re thinking in terms of physical models now instead of in terms of chapters, units, or equations. Now what? Is there a high-level ordering of these ideas? How are they connected? Are there common themes? One activity that I’ve done to help students build higher-level organization into their thinking is concept maps (which I … 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

LinReg for physics class data graphing

What is LinReg and how can I get it? Note: This is not meant to be an advertisement. I was in no way solicited by, nor am I affiliated with, the creator of the program. This is a recommendation and love letter about a tool that has made a huge difference in my classes this … Continue reading

Why do we need both momentum and energy?

Since seeing Brian’s post about asking students this question, I’ve been thinking about how my students might answer. In one section of Honors Physics, we’re just wrapping up a second look at momentum and energy transfer (mainly using problems that involve a transition between using both in the same analysis). My Honors kids have written … Continue reading

Force Vector Addition Diagrams (or, Components No More!)

The graphical solution bug has really gotten me this year (and in the best possible way). I’ve apparently done such a good job of pushing the graphical solutions that one of my classes stopped me in my tracks while I was showing them how to solve force problems by breaking the forces into components and … Continue reading

Velocity Graphs into Equations

aka How to kill . Now that we’re pros (Wheaties box, here we come) at drawing velocity-vs-time graphs, we need to be able to turn those graphs into equations if we want to use them as tools for solving problems. One big stumbling block in solving constant acceleration (CAPM) problems is that, very very often, … 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

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

Goal-less problems

I talked about my use of goal-less problems on my physics semester exam. The essential idea is that the question is actually just a description of a situation. The student’s job is to model the situation as best they can using the physics they know. First step: say which models apply and why. Second step: draw … Continue reading


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