Day 144: Mutiny
I started class today by showing off more features of Blue Harvest, which then shifted to a mutiny, which led to a discussion, which ended with me handing out new lab notebooks (pictured).
The mutiny was mostly fueled by my decision to shift from quizzes (opportunities for mastery created by teacher, very passive for student, etc.) to portfolios coupled with Blue Harvest (more active for students *plus* BH tech hurdles, etc.).
We discussed how I felt my assessments were not focused on the learning/scientific process, but rather just the quizzes, and that I wanted to change that. They weren’t taking labs too seriously, or some of the whiteboard problem solving in class. So I decided to try portfolios to shift the focus to the process.
I told them about the physics class I TA’d in college. It was Physics 101-102 and it was “auto-tutorial.” Kids came to the physics lab and worked on labs, demos, practice problems, watched videos, etc. Then at the end of the unit, they met with a TA for an interview. The TA ked through their lab notebook, orally quizzed them about their lab work, the problems, etc. to see if the students really did it themselves and understood it. Once approved (not always, some kids were sent back to do more work), they could schedule to take an exam in the exam room. They had 3 chances for each unit exam, and the highest grade counted. There were many versions of each exam to reduce cheating between students who took it first and those who took it later. The exams were scored immediately in front of student so they left knowing their score.
It was a cool system, but it lacks the whole class discussion and dynamics that I love about modeling (in a perfect world). There was a suggest timeline and clearly laid out matrix of work to complete. It actually reminds me of Paul Anderson’s classroom, which Paul describes in his TEDx talk, “My Classroom is a Video Game.”
Some kids also expressed frustration with the “finding things out” part. One said, “If you would just tell us the formula, we could do so much more with it. What we spent 2 periods doing with the spring oscillations lab, you could have delivered a 10 minute lesson and then we could be *using* the concepts/equations to do something.”
Part of me thinks that student is wrong, and the other part says he’s right.
As cliche as it sounds, I want kids to experience physics as a journey of learning and discovery, rather than as a pile of quizzes that end up in the trash.
My head is spinning right now. I need to find a happy medium between process and product, methods and content, portfolios and quizzes, growth and mastery, details and the big picture.