My AP Physics 2 classes are part of a district-wide Digital Learning Initiative. My two sections are testing Chromebooks and the Google ecosystem. @anna_kraftson, our Technology Integration Specialist, led the deployment and walked the students through broader topics like their digital footprint and net-etiquitte. We then walked students through connecting their Google Drive with Canvas and forwarding their existing Office365 student e-mail to their new Gmail. We ran into a couple of surprises, but managed to work around them and get every student to where we wanted them to be by the end of class.
Two students were absent on a field trip. Their Chromebooks are waiting for them.
Today in AP Physics 2, we started discussing special relativity. I like starting with this topic for several reasons. It is a great example of breaking a model and defining a new one. In addition, it requires students to rigorously apply logic in order to uncover the implications of Einstein’s postulates of special relativity. Finally, deriving the time dilation equation with simple geometry and algebra removes the mystery that encompasses special relativity.
I don’t have a photo of us discussing special relativity; so, I took a couple of photos of some summer additions to the classroom. I hung a cool clock that I received as a gift last year. I also now have my walk and don’t walk signs on display. I was going to use them to tell students if they should pick up handouts on the way in the door. With Chromebooks, I hope to have very few handouts; so, I’m not sure how I’ll use the signs.
This year, I’m going to try and focus the 180-blog on the new AP Physics 2 class and the 1:1 Digital Learning Initiative. However, today’s AP Computer Science class was too good not to share. The new computers in the classroom aren’t ready yet. As a result, I had to change my usual first-day activities to those that don’t require a computer. I remembered an activity with which I used to start my General Physics class: Polar Bears around an Ice Hole. (I wrote that post four years ago. I love that blogging not only helps others but provides a record that helps my future self!)
While this activity was designed to introduce my students to physics class, it worked just as well and probably better for computer science. The process of solving the riddle parallels that of designing an algorithm or debugging a program. Reflecting at the end of the activity, students shared their feelings of frustration when they didn’t understand, elation when they did, and self-doubt when they realized how simple the solution is. In addition, as we tried to solve the riddle, the students made suggestions which mirrored best practices for algorithm design and debugging. They asked to reduce the scope of the problem (roll three dice instead of six), test special cases (make all dice show five), and change a variable and see the effect (change one die from a five to a one). I was very impressed when students who had solved the problems offered suggestions as to how to reframe the game that helped others solve the problem without directly telling them the answer. I still ended the activity by “assigning” grades based on how quickly a student solved the puzzle. When I asked one of the students who got a “C” if he was okay with that, he said he was. Another student, unprompted, interjected that his grade wasn’t fair since it shouldn’t matter that it took him longer to solve the puzzle since, in the end, he still understands the game. My work here is done!
One of the things I’m doing this year is helping to our entire calendaring system over to Google Calendar. This is a significant undertaking, since many of our calendars are really just lists of dates and assignments, and as a boarding school, we have a number of “duty calendars”, like ER Driver that need to be transformed from paper documents into electronic calendars.
The good news is once you get this information into google calendars, the sky is practically the limit in terms of what you can do with Google scripting. I’ve managed to set up the ER driver calendar so that it sends out a reminder both the week and day before you are on duty to confirm you’ll be taking on this duty. You can even set up mail merge style emails.
It seems to me like this would be great for creating a google form for reassessments that also reminds students about the reassessment they signed up for.
This would be right at the end of 1st semester before the winter break. We did the stick-tape lab around then. The unit continued after the break. With this unit I did a bit of notes about the periodic table with groups and periods.