Day 19: Wait, what? I only get them for 30 minutes today?

That’s right, you read that correctly.  We had 30 minute classes today.  It was out first PLD of the year.  The students were dismissed at 12:10.  The science department met from 1:00 to 2:40.  The topic you ask?  Common assessments. There has been a push over the last year or two to build common assessments for courses that have multiple instructors all teaching a section or two.  In our part of the department (chemistry and physics), we have been doing this for  a really long time already.  The new work this year is to tie a DOK (Depth of Knowledge) value to each and every question.  Here are the vales we can assign:

Screen Shot 2014-09-28 at 6.07.51 PM

We had an interesting discussion about this (as you can imagine).  It seems to me that we are to move away from the lower end questions, and multiple choice questions that are at that level.  Thankfully, I teach physics… no problem getting to the DOK’s of 3 and 4.  Our AP Bio II instructor pointed out that the AP tests are still using MC questions, but at a very high level… thank you very much.  The last piece we need to add is to tie each question on the assessment to one of our course objectives (or standard, or benchmark, or learning target or… we really need a common definition of all of these).   It amazes me to think there are tests being given with that have questions that do not tie to an objective and even courses where the kids are given the objectives!

After this meeting we had some breakout technology sessions.  For what’s it’s worth, I was really proud of the staff I work with, everyone was very productive for a beautiful Friday afternoon…. I know, inservice on a Friday afternoon!


So, what can you do with 30 minutes?

Advanced Physics:

My students finished the Walk this Way motion detector activity.  If there was any time remaining, they could use a compute to post their answer to a ‘Schoology” discussion question that I posted about a Hiker.  (More on this some other time).  They could also finish completing an assignment that had them using Logger Pro to plot two EOL’s (for two cyclists).  This skill is an awesome one to have as a problem solving tool AND it sets them up to be successful when I give them the Buggy Bash Challenge.

General Physics:

Yesterday we finished up the Snell’s Law experiment.  We showed them a few awesome demos that relate to the index of refraction.  Here they are:



We always try to do a sample problem with the new models before we sent the students off to do some individual practice.  The sample problem always involves real equipment and we work through it as a class.  Today we used our Refraction tank to solve for the index of refraction of a mystery liquid so it could be identified.

Screen Shot 2014-09-28 at 6.24.48 PM


We use PIPES as a problem solving approach.

P= Problem (what are you solving for)

I= Information (list everything you know, your givens)

P/E:= Plan and explain HOW you will solve the problem . (I like this step because it allows me to teach/preach about working backwards as a way to tackle longer and more challenging problems.

S= Solve it according to your plan.


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