I wanted to hear student voices that don’t normally speak up in class to see if they really truly understand the concepts that we’re covering. The Forces unit usually is a make or break for the freshmen for the rest of the year. Few students can pull it together after Christmas vacation to improve on their work habits and physics practice. This starts from the very beginning of Forces.
With #MERIT18 and our department head’s combined efforts to use technology in the classroom, I thought that maybe using Flipgrid would be a good starter. I see my students using Snapchat or Instagram in class and taking weird photos of things or themselves to maintain a streak. So I thought, why not use the tool and make it meaningful. Surprisingly, most of the students were really shy and did not like the idea of having a selfie published…it confused me for a second, and then after a good night’s rest, I understood. Most of them did not want to look stupid in front of their peers or be perceived so negatively that they make it into someone else’s social media.
I used Flipgrid as as tool to have students explain the 3 different types of forces we discussed in class (Normal, Tension, and Friction). I was worried that the examples were going to look like each other. I was also worried that no one else was going to see their genius thoughts. As a “Do Now,” I asked students to reply to someone else’s explanation with a question and a praise. Most of the praises were very adorable and the questions were kind off topic like: “What forces do you see when you run?” (when there was nothing of that nature, but it was good question making practice). It was really cool to see students spotting some errors in language and thinking, and then asked the question- “Why do you say it that way?”
The rest of the forces discussion went well…much better than last year, I think because
- students had to think about forces outside of class (and come up with examples)
- students had to think about someone else’s reply to see if it matches up with their understanding.
So when it came time to draw interaction and force diagrams, it went so smoothly. Everyone was on the same page. There were very few content questions but more extended learning questions. Even the students who had been unsure about what was happening in class said that it was way easier to understand now. It really was exciting! Moving forward, I need to build in more opportunities for students to reflect on what they’ve learned.