We started our energy unit with an “Energy Stations” class, during which I was mostly hoping to establish common experiences for the future and pique curiosity about these phenomena. We played with wind up toys and poppers and pendulums and genecons crank-generators, and students thought about “How does this station illustrate energy storage? How does it illustrate energy transfer?”
Problem was, students had no common language or understanding with which to even begin to answer those questions!! So they definitely had a chance to be curious and play, but it wasn’t really connected to energy in any concrete way. I knew this beforehand, but I didn’t try to avoid it.
After the lesson, another ninth grade physics teacher came in, and we regrouped about how it went… We talked about the NEXT day’s lesson, which was an introduction to bar charts and energy transfer using the PhET Skate Park. At some point late in the conversation he realized that the order of these two lessons was totally reversed – that an introduction to the three energy forms in the Skate Park would totally change the energy station experience. They’d have some understanding to call on related to those specific forms, and they’d recognize the need for other forms to explain all these other processes! We quickly made copies of the Skate Park handout for his class that started in 10 minutes, and I modified my afternoon class accordingly.
Two things about this: First, this would never have happened if I was the only physics teacher in the school. Those conversations are essential for hashing things out.
Second, I’ve been trying to diligently complete these Self Evaluations for my class with Eugenia at Rutgers, and this was PARTICULARLY fascinating. My “Before” reflection was full of doubt, and I didn’t have any good answers to the important questions in the reflection (like, “How will you know students are learning?”). I should have caught the flaws in the lesson before it went live, but catching them immediately afterward was almost as good. So I’ve completed 2 each of the “Before” and “After” reflections today, and the contrast seems profound!
If anyone’s curious to see the reflection, it’s partly based on the “RTOP”, and another rubric that was developed at Rutgers. I put it online for convenience, but that also makes it really easy to share!!
##setbacks ##etm ##reflection ##phet