Monday, May 18, 2015

Researching in Physics

This week in our flipped classroom twitter chat we were asked to talk about researching, the good, the bad and the ugly.  From my first year of teaching I have always had my students do research.  I started with having the students answer questions from Discover magazines "12 Unanswered Questions of Physics."  Most of the questions were not able to be answered at the time and the students needed to do research and form an opinion, based on research, and present it in a research paper type format.  These questions have changed over time.  I have asked questions about current events in physics and science, like dark matter, the large hadron collider, and other trending ideas.  I find this helps the students research abilities and it gives them access to concepts that are not covered in traditional classes.  I have really enjoyed this, and the students ask a lot of questions after the writing.  They lead to good discussions.  In the area of sources for research I have always not allowed the use of wikipedia as a source.  Initially the students fought this, but I have gotten less resistance on this over time because I think the students are know being taught by teachers in lower grade levels that wikipedia is not a reliable source for good research.
I strive to bring in new scientific announcements in my class to show the students new items and encourage them to also look at new information.  I am amazed that every year students come in and show me links to new information and research they found.  It leads to great conversations on many levels.
The main issue I am having with my students in research is creating citations.  They really struggle with this skill, even when directed to use citation websites to help.  Showing the students what is a good citation has become more time consuming than it used to be.
A small area of "research" I have also used is the option for students to find a YouTube video about topics we are covering that has to be longer than 3 minutes.  This may not seem like a true scientific research, but the students are expanding their research and learning.
So, in conclusion, I love having my students research information, bring in new information and explore areas they may not have looked at before.
Thanks for reading and please ask any questions below.
Have a good week and enjoy the end of your school years!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Metacognition and Physics, a fun duo

     This week for our flipclass chat session is about how we incorporate metacognition, or think about how they think.  I like this topic because it is something I feel I do quite well.  I have always verbally modeled this in my classes even before I started flipping.  I would verbalize how I do all of the math problems.  I would also make mistakes in some of the problems and hope the students would catch me.  They did and really enjoyed watching the process and trying to "catch" me making mistakes.
     Another thing I have always done is at the end of lab activities I have asked my students the following questions:  1.  What did you learn from this activity?  2.  What did you like about this activity?  3.  What would you change about this activity?  When I ask these I tell the students to be honest because I listen to what they suggest and will use their information in future years.
     When I started flipping the classroom it led to more time for in class conversations which extended on my previous questions.  I ask the students to reflect on the essential questions of a video, basically the learning targets, and discuss the targets the students have the most questions about.  I also was introduced to the STEM model which encouraged more redesign of the project during the process, which also increases metacognition.
     Another way I use metacognition, which is a lot of fun, is finding students who have different answers and have them discuss, with the class, which is right and which is wrong.  The students what me to tell them what the right answer is,but I find the conversation between two conflicting answers brings out misconceptions faster and fosters an environment for more open communication.
     I think that having students think about what they learned and what they would change and why is a valuable skill and one that I am working on improving and enjoying working on it.  I would be interested to see how others use metacognition and what strategies they use.
     Thanks for reading my post.  I would enjoy a conversation about this topic with other knowledgeable educators.