Day 73: [SBG] + [Modeling Instruction] = [Learning]

CIS_Physics_Forces_Exam 2 Box Plot


I graded the forces exam for my college-at-my-high-school physics course over the last couple of days, and once again I was very pleased with the results. Here is a dynamic version of the graph above.

I attribute the gains I saw in this and the first exam to implementation of modeling instruction last year and a modified version of Standards Based Grading this year. To be truly transparent, the exams are a bit different year to year so it is difficult to make true comparisons, but the data so far is consistent for both exams, as well as with my qualitative observations that this year’s group has gained significantly in problem solving ability (again, see the SBG post). The FCI will be the true test of students’ conceptual gains, I’m excited to give it later this year.


Day 39: Exam 1

Exam 1 box plot

As I was grading this years Exam 1 in my concurrent enrollment college level physics class I had a feeling that students were really rocking it compared to last year, so naturally I spent 1-2 hours on a Saturday night playing with the data. This box plot is, I think, the best representation, showing that all four quartiles increased. This is verified in that the mean had a statistically significant increase (p<0.05) and the standard deviation decreased from around 13 to 9.

I am in the process of writing a blog post about why I believe this increase of scores occurred, so you’ll have to wait a bit for that. The teaser is that it’s a kind of Standards Based Grading (SBG) implementation for a class in which I can’t really do SBG.

Here is a more dynamic graph that gives the values of the quartiles.

UPDATE: Here’s the blog post, When You Can’t Do SBG

Day 122: Phone Calls


We had a snow day a couple of days back, and conferences that were scheduled that night had to be canceled as well. We have been asked, as a result, to contact parents on our own time, and because my during school schedule is so crazy, I thought I’d hammer this out over spring break. I’m just about done, happy to be free for a real break soon!

Day 88: Feedback


No, I didn’t skip a day….I have to write Friday’s post still, but wanted to do this while it was fresh on my mind. Both Frank Noschese and Kelly O’Shea (in conversation and probably in writing but I can’t find it) have talked about having students check their work and give themselves feedback directly after taking a quiz. I gave my first Standards-Based Grading quiz on Friday (Yay! I’m teaching the 2nd half of physics this semester which I helped change to SBG for the start of the year despite not teaching it), and immediately when students finished they could go to the back, grab a red pen, and give themselves feedback. The quiz above is a great example of a student where I had much less feedback to give (mine is in blue) because she did it herself, plus she got that information when it was fresh in her mind rather than after a weekend. Win-win!

Day 6 (even though it’s Saturday): Ax Man


Today the family took a slight detour so I could hit up Ax Man for materials for The Ball Bounce Challenge, my first day activity I stole from Frank Noschese. I have always heard about this iconic surplus store in the Twin Cities (I have no idea if they exist elsewhere) but had never been. Talk about a kid in a candy store!


I grabbed a small DC fan as well to try to make a fan cart (I plan to wire it with a potentiometer and a 9V for the ability to control the acceleration), but the stay was limited due to 2.5 and 4.5 year olds getting into everything. I will be back, hopefully soon.

Day 5: Breakfast and a School Visit


Today we have the day off, so of course I am still working. Kind of. I have a good friend who teaches Math and is a tech coach as well at a school just down the road, and we get together regularly to talk shop. Today after breakfast he brought me to his school to show me some of the things they are working on with technology. This district passed a technology referendum around 10 years ago and thus have a lot going for them in that realm (including 7 part time tech coaches just for their HS, versus just myself for four buildings). This room is their technology room, for lack of a better term, and the photo shows multiple (I think there were 9-10 total) iPad carts. Additionally, the room is set up to be a presentation and recording center with cameras, screens, and computer inputs all over the place, not to mention apple tv (really a no-brainer anyway). A really cool space.

I am really looking forward to having another person with whom to converse about all things technology integration in light of my new position. We are even talking about doing visits once school starts to see how teachers in other districts are using technology. Always nice to have someone else to bounce ideas off of!