Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Schizophrenic Student Mode

It's been observed more than once in this workshop that I have a "schizophrenic student mode".  I'm sure it's true... I have a hard time being one consistent student.  (I'm also a terrible actor / role-player.  I took music classes rather than drama, and I've never been very good at pretending to be anyone but me.)  My student mode is me trying my darndest to channel a student mindset, but I definitely have multiple student personalities jumbled up in my head.

Sometimes the "student" I'm feeling is one of my more concrete ninth graders.  Sometimes the "student" who speaks with my mouth is one of my more precocious, deep-thinking eleventh graders.  (It's worth noting that even as a K-12 student, I definitely had real learning experiences as both those students.)  And occasionally it's current me grappling with bits of basic mechanics I learned by the "trained monkey" approach a long time ago and haven't gone back and conceptually "fixed" since then.

I think the tension force and elements of force diagrams both fall in that last category.  Which is humbling for someone with a freakin' Ph.D. from a well respected doctoral program.  My favorite learning experiences from today were:

  1.  The moment Bryan cut the string from which we were hanging an object and stuck a spring scale in the middle of it to measure what was going on with the tension force in the middle of the spring.
  2. Working through the N3L force diagrams -- I've been thrown by the boxes side-by-side before, I think because I wasn't being careful enough about separating the force diagrams for the two different objects while simultaneously connecting them by making sure the N3L force pairs were the same length. 
Both of those moments touch on subjects where I've definitely had students stewing in confusion, but they were also moments that nibbled away at areas of my own personal less-than-total-physics-clarity.  

Favorite quotes from today:  
  • "What the physics?!?" (JP) 
  •  "When students are working on whiteboards is not time to check email.  Check email during the discussion."  (Bryan)
  • "You just have to shut up and let students talk." (Bryan)
  • "It's not about getting a touchdown every time; it's about moving the ball down the field."  (Laura)
I'm looking forward to seeing the N2L labs play out tomorrow.  I've done a super qualitative version with my freshmen (scooters!) and the modified atwood versions with my juniors (kind of a mess), so I'm excited to see ways to make the lab experience and follow-up discussion more productive in both my classes.

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