Buggy lab day 2: first board meeting
On Friday, both of my physics classes continued their work on the buggy lab, and in the last half hour or so of class, we convened our first board meeting. The purpose of the board meeting is to bring all of the lab groups together to share their work and uncover the big ideas of the lab. This year, I’m introducing the idea of post game analysis, and asking students to stop periodically to suggest ideas that should be a part of the post game analysis or highlight reel.
If you’ve never tried them before, Board meetings can be very powerful. It is quite common for my students to uncover all of the main ideas of a unit in their discussions.
I tell my students that it is my goal not to say anything during the first 15 minutes of discussion. I want them to focus on engaging one another. This year, I also put together this 1 page handout. I seem to recall seeing something similar (and much better) on the modeling listserv, and if anyone can send me a link to it, I would be most appreciative.
In the sprit of full disclosure and wanting to improve as a facilitator of these conversations, I thought I would post videos of my two Friday board meetings here. These discussions are the first discussions like this the students have ever had, if you watch them, you’ll see some rough spots. The first class didn’t have enough time to get to the main ideas. The second group had much more time to discuss, and made some pretty big breakthroughs at the end, but I think there are places where I’m a bit too heavy handed in the conversation, and not drawing in enough of the students to participate.
Also, and this is the point I really want to work on, a student came to me after the discussion saying that she was a bit confused, and hoped we’d have some time to explain these ideas further—and I assured her we would continue to discuss these for a while ,and we would probably even continue our board meeting on Monday. But I know there are students in my classes that would prefer that we skip board meetings like this, and that I simple lecture and explain the big ideas that they need to know. I’d love ideas on how to help these students see the benefit in working through this confusion with their peers. I think the post-game analysis work can be very helpful in creating a middle ground between some sort of lecture by me, and nothing but free form discussions with students.
My thought now is to spend another 20-25 minutes on monday doing a sort of final check to put together the idea of position vs time graphs for my students. I’d use Kelly’s idea and mark 6 different starting points and directions on the floor, and have students make a position vs time graph for their buggy, and then have them figure out which buggy would win in a 1m race, make predictions for the finish times of their buggy and then hold the race. Still, this seems like a big time investment for the first lab, and I’m sure there are many places where I could streamline things.
If you are so inclined, I’d love any thoughts you might have on these two videos.
First class, shorter discussion
Second class, longer discussion—students make a number of breakthroughs at the end