Day 60: Struggle First, Lecture Second


(modified from Modeling Physics materials)

College-Prep Physics: Taking a cue from “What if Khan Academy was made in Japan,” I decided to let my students figure out that area under a velocity-time graph represents displacement by having them struggle with a new type of problem, rather than giving them a lecture about it first. I used some carefully guided and constructed questions from the Modeling Physics materials (above). I think most students did just fine.


Notice this group wrote “distance” instead of displacement. Not a big deal right now, particularly because both quantities have the same value for this section of the graph. Further discussion about the next part (“Is the area positive or negative? Why? What does it mean?”) will tease out the more correct quantity.

It’s the struggle that primes students for the discussion/lecture. It’s the struggle that helps identify confusion and questions so there is a reason for (and willingness to participate in/listen to) the discussion/lecture. Much more meaningful than the traditional way of lecture first, practice second.



About Frank Noschese

HS Physics Teacher constantly questioning my teaching.

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