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.