Last week I gave a new type of lesson a try where I use groupwork and problem solving to introduce content to students. It wasn't as successful as I had hoped, so this week I tried again with some changes. I structured this lesson on the Launch, Explore, Summarize method.
This week I tried something new. I've been looking for a way to make lessons on physics content more rigorous and more student-centered, so I developed a framework for an inquiry-based lesson with my mentor and launched it Tuesday.
To start, with groups of 4 and 5 sitting around tables with markers and whiteboards, I asked the class to "draw what it looks like when a fast moving skateboarder hits a curb." This was not as engaging as I had hoped. Mostly the groups would let one or two people draw and the others were passive. I called attention to and celebrated detailed work like labeling and diagrams.
** 1 Year Later Reflection, see end of post
Something that I do well in my classes is consistently asking my students to be reflective. I've learned and discovered that the most authentic learning happens in reflection, thinking back over a completed project and thinking into the future about what you will do differently. I wish that I could say that I put as much effort into asking the students to practice their critical creative thinking. I hope to be explicit about leading a class that can defend and justify decisions and choices in projects based on evidence, research and experience.
This week I've been doing some reading about different ideas in how to teach math, including The Mathematicians Lament by Paul Lockhart and a piece by Jo Boaler, a Stanford Professor of Mathematics Education (called the "goddess of math education" by some). Both of these authors points out flaws they see in the current mainstream form of math education and encourage others to make changes to how they think about teaching math.
Philip Estrada is a teacher at High Tech High Media Arts in San Diego California. He teaches Physics by having kids build things in a woodshop.