It is the end of July, the back to school sales have been running for a month, the #clearthelist movement is in full force. While I keep telling myself I have ALL of August left (that’s actually a lie, I have institute the 30th/31st) many of us are starting in just a few weeks. Here are three ideas to start physics strong. These ideas are grounded in my values and beliefs around teaching physics. You can read about those here
Physics is about EXPERIMENTS
I want students to know science is investigative and that anyone can do it. Many teachers will do a team-building activity on the first day, but I prefer to let students play. This gives me a chance to observe the dynamics of each class before I begin to influence the room and it also takes any pressure off of students to perform for one another or myself. I try to set up a demonstration or lab from each of the units for the entire year. Directions for observations are left on a notecard in front of the set up. Students are asked to write down detailed observations about each demonstration. Over the weekend I ask students to find the demonstration online and learn about how it works. Students are then asked to write a claim, evidence reasoning statement about a single demonstration. Here is my handout and some of the demos I set up
Getting to Know You
When we begin class I ask students to introduce themselves, rather than butchering their names on the roster. I take notes for myself. I ask students to share their name, and how they are feeling. I will also ask them to create a flipgrid introduction with a little more info. This allows me to have their pronunciation recorded so I can review it repeatedly. Here are the prompts:
1) State your first and last name
2) What is something you’re really into, or “your thing?” This could be an interest, hobby, job, talent, etc… anything!
3) Post a picture in your video of you doing your thing or a product from your thing
4) What is one thing you wonder about one (or more) of the demos from the first day? (I wonder why….)
5) Respond to at least TWO classmates!
Physics is for Everyone!
I am a STEP-UP advocate and one of the lesson plans in the program is the Careers in Physics. In the lesson students learn about the vast scope of employment opportunities with a physics degree and then are asked to create a career profile. Students do this by taking a super short survey where they check off their interests and values and then they are matched with a professional who shares their interests. You can access the lesson plan and resources here.
I hope you find these ideas useful! What else have you done to set the tone for the year? Drop it in the comments!