Best Best Class Ever—when I leave the room
My Honors Physics class continues to blow my mind. Today I had to leave class early to go to a meeting, so I told them I wanted them to work on this very challenging problem, and record themselves discussing the problem.
Here’s the video—remember, this is the last 15 minutes of class at the end of the day):
It turned out my meeting ended early, so I was able to sneak back into the lab and overhear them for about 5 minutes of this conversation while the class couldn’t see me. All a colleague and I could do is just stare awe of how the students were working so thoughtfully through this problem. Really, this video is one of those situations where I think if I had been there in discussion, I could have only made things worse.
This video makes me think about so many things I don’t understand why this class is like this? Why I can’t get my other classes, both past and present to work together like this?
It also makes me worry—will this class still be like this in February, when we are all exhausted and ready for spring break?
There are voices in this video that you don’t hear much, or at all. How can I help those students to be able to express their questions and ideas? How can I help the more dominant voices, to learn to draw out and build on the ideas of their less vocal peers?
Finally, it seems like we should be doing more than our standard curriculum of doing labs an solving problems. These students are capable of learning completely on their own. They should be able to devise and conduct experiments to test their own questions. They should be able to read and explore physics topics of interest to them. How do I facilitate this? How do we find time? How do I get them to reach the same depth with that kind of work that they are in this video?