Day 25

Today was a really good and a really challenging day. My colleague who is very experienced at the modeling approach to physics agreed to help me facilitate a whiteboard discussion of a worksheet.


Students had solved this yesterday and we put them on whiteboards to discuss. I was really humbled at how intricate the modeling method is when it comes to getting students to discuss their answers. I want to list some of the key things I learned:

  • Do NOT change student errors on whiteboards as they write them up. leave them
  • If students want to know if they wrote something correct, assure them that we will discuss it as a class
  • Embrace the awkwardness. They may HATE this approach and seem restless at first, but they LEARN so much more.
  • The evidence that they learn is that as they go further in the problems they are able to phrase questions that are more critical. Eg: “You said that A was ahead of B because its slope was steeper, but that shouldn’t matter right? It’s because A is higher up on the graph” followed by: “Yeah but they’re not really higher up, right? You mean, ‘ahead’ right?”
  • If the discussion stops, it is okay to prompt students with a question that restates a common misconception
  • Students may need prodding to speak if they are normally quiet
  • If a student knows all the answers, it is okay to talk to them after class and ask them to be a “devil’s advocate” and ask questions designed to trip others up(!)

This is all I have so far. I know there is so much more to learn. If anybody reading this has any suggestions as to other things to be mindful of I would be really really grateful.

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