Day 6: Station Observations Part 2 #cmpfb

For Part 2 stations, I picked the more exciting three stations: Airzooka, Mass on a Spring, and Ball Drop. I gave the groups 3 minutes and 6 seconds at each station. After the rotation, we gathered back together to complete our whiteboards (which I did on Jamboards again). I told them about how Mrs. F and I have an informal competition going on and we’re constantly striving to show each other how excellent our students’ works are. So I encouraged them to show some pictures of the initial condition, final condition, and the changes in between.

The whiteboards were significantly better this time around. Students took the time to include photos of what they considered to be initial conditions and final conditions. This helped the dialogue for our whiteboarding sessions as well. After they finished their whiteboards, I prefaced our whiteboarding sessions with asking them if they have ever experienced telling a story that they were excited about to somebody who didn’t match their excitement for their story. I asked students what kind of reaction they’d like from the person listening. They mentioned things like ask questions that would make us elaborate what we mean, not asking questions that would have them repeat what they said, and things like body language to show listening.

With that, I explained that the whole purpose of today’s exercise was to improve our whiteboarding sessions from Part 1. Last class, we practiced presenting and being good audience members. This class, we will work on having an actual science dialogue. This will be audience participation required. I set some expectations like the class has to ask 3-5 questions out of the presenting group before we can move on to the next group. Across all three classes, the majority preferred the dialogue whiteboarding experience.

Some students asked clarifying questions like

  • How far were you to get the airzooka to move the ping pong ball until you couldn’t move it anymore?
  • Which ball did you put on top to get a more exciting result?
  • Would the ball’s “boinkness” differ depending on the order you put the balls? Would it change if you used more than two balls?
  • Would the spring lose “springiness” if we pulled too much?

Some students found stock images from Google image search and used it in their slide. I learned to ask about words that they included from those images. When they told me they couldn’t explain it, we all learned a lesson in using words we’re not prepared to address. I think one group included “equilibrium position” in their mass on a spring slide and when I asked about it, they couldn’t really explain it. So we talked about using images and the words it includes, and perhaps not using them if we’re not ready for it. For some students, it clicked why I wouldn’t let them use the word energy. For others, they were still wondering why their physics teacher didn’t know the meaning of friction or any energy types.

One class wanted to know what would happen if we stacked all the balls used in ball drop to see if their “boinkiness” theory from the class discussion would hold. It was fun to see the class coming together to make it happen. They directed each other and I pretty much stayed out of their experiments. They only asked me if it was safe to try.

I think the key part was to explain BEFORE whiteboard presentations what our purpose was. In the post-whiteboarding discussion, we talked about how much richer our discussions were. A couple students noticed that I didn’t say much and that they learned from each other. Five years of whiteboarding sessions, and I feel like I finally ran a session successfully. I feel pretty confident that our classes will use the whiteboarding sessions to be a richer and more meaningful to the learning experience.

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