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Assessment

Rich Problem-Solving Challenges for Virtual Students

Chris Meyer
Past-President, OAPT
Chris_meyer1@sympatico.ca

Are you looking for exciting tasks for your students now that we have made the sudden switch to virtual teaching? You have come to the right place! A staple of our grade 12 physics classes is our physics challenges: cooperative-group problem-solving tasks that involve a physical apparatus, measurements, a prediction, and an experimental confirmation. One of my COVID projects has been making careful videos of these challenges that allow students to understand the problem and make measurements directly from the video. A separate solution video allows students to experimentally verify their predictions. Normally, I would write a long-winded, exhaustive article about the pedagogical design of the challenge process, but not this time! Instead, this will be a quick article so I can share these with you as quickly as possible! Looking for an engaging and rich task to wrap up your physics course with? Read on! Read More...

Arithmetic Questions in Brightspace Quizzes

Eric Haller, Editor-in-Chief of the OAPT Newsletter, Secondary Long Term Occasional Teacher with the Peel District School Board
eric.haller@peelsb.com

With the switch to online and hybrid learning, we have had to migrate much of what we do in class to an online environment for the students working from home. Many boards have opted to use Brightspace for their virtual learning environments, and that’s what I use to post my announcements, synchronous meeting links, lesson notes, calendars, grades, assignments, rubrics, and so on. Students can find and submit their assignments to me using the Assignments tab. The Rubric tool allows me to create and share rubrics with my classes, making marking, exporting marks to the Grades section, and returning feedback, all extremely quick and easy. Brightspace streamlines this so well that I no longer accept hardcopy or emailed submissions. In conversations with my coworkers about the features in Brightspace that we use, I was surprised to learn that many of my peers were not comfortable using Brightspace to give tests. I still regularly see my colleagues administer pen-and-paper tests in their hybrid classes. Students attending school in-person write the test in the traditional way, and students at home typically print out a .pdf of the test, write on it in pencil, and scan and send it back to the teacher. Tech savvy students might just write directly onto the .pdf using a tablet instead. While this method works for many teachers, I find that it creates numerous problems. Since we can’t really proctor students writing the test online, they can use their notes, the internet, and even call their friends for help without our knowledge. They can even take extra time and email their responses in late, claiming their Wi-Fi is slow or using some other excuse. Students who write the test in-person will be at a significant disadvantage compared to their online counterparts, and so some will decide to stay home on test days to write the test online, which creates attendance issues. Furthermore, marking both hard and soft copy tests can take a lot of extra time compared to just marking one type of test. To avoid these problems, I have students write my tests in Brightspace by using the Quizzes tool. Read More...

Online Exit Cards

Eric Haller, Editor-in-Chief of the OAPT Newsletter, Secondary Long Term Occasional Teacher with the Peel District School Board
eric.haller@peelsb.com

I was taught about exit cards when I was in teachers college, but I was never asked to complete any as a student, and as a new teacher I didn’t really think they made sense. We typically can’t dismiss the students who complete their exit cards early, nor can we hold back students who need more time to complete them after class; so I didn’t really see the value in doing exit cards. With the current pandemic, however, times have drastically changed. In the Peel District School Board (PDSB), we are currently using a teaching model where we are simultaneously teaching students both in class and at home (also known as the hybrid learning model or the community learning model). Prior to the pandemic I could do a quick scan of the classroom and see which students were working, which weren’t, and who was struggling. Now, with many students at home with their webcams off, scanning the room is no longer possible. I had found myself in need of a teaching strategy that would give me a means of checking in on every student in the class (both in school and at home). I also wanted a teaching strategy I could use everyday that would encourage the students at home to attend and participate in class, and one that allowed me to continuously track individual student achievement. To solve this problem, I realised that exit cards would work perfectly, so long as they were submitted to me online. Read More...

As, for, of… How to effectively assess collaborative learning

Vjera Miović, Teacher at Silverthorn CI, OAPT Newsletter Volunteer
vjera.miovic@tdsb.on.ca

Imagine a test (and yes, it’s for marks!) during which everyone gets to see everyone else’s work, students can change, correct and update their product for a better mark, they consult each other and talk freely, and they even google information they need to solve a problem. What would you think of this assessment method if it was a physics class, or a math class? Wouldn’t that be considered cheating? And yet, my grade 9 tech students get evaluated exclusively this way. Read More...

Controlled Experiments with Three Factors in SPH4C Grade 12 College Physics

Tim McCarthy, Teacher, St. Ignatius of Loyola Catholic Secondary School
mccarthyt@hcdsb.org

Controlled experiments with three factors are a great way for physics students to practice identifying and testing factors that may affect a situation. They provide an excellent opportunity to practice the Scientific Investigation Skills found in Strand A. The students are provided with a situation, brainstorm possible factors that may affect the situation, reduce the list of factors to three that can be tested in the physics lab, develop hypotheses, design procedures to test the factors, test the factors, analyze the data, perform experimental error analysis, and draw conclusions on the effects the three factors have had on the original situation.

My struggle has been to find situations that easily fit this format and that also match the curriculum specific expectations. I have created one three-factor controlled experiment for each of the six units in my 12C physics course. The three-factor experiment in the first unit is used as assessment for learning (formative) to teach the students how to do a controlled experiment. The remaining five experiments are used as assessment of learning (summative). Simulations are used for some experiments as I do not have the necessary equipment to perform all them in the lab. Read More...

Harnessing Emotions to Help Students Learn

Presented at the 2017 OAPT Conference, York University
Chris Meyer, teacher York Mills CI

The old me would have scoffed at the thought of my students’ emotional states while learning. “Suck it up and do your work” was my no-nonsense, starch-collared mantra. After all, I’m a physicist! But as I learned more about how the brain works, I was forced to confront my very emotional, educational prejudices. Let’s put our feelings as educators aside and simply ask ourselves the question: “what can I do to help my students learn better?”. Research into the workings of the brain reveal how deeply connected emotion is with learning; emotion is hard-wired into cognition. Teachers need to design lessons to account for students’ emotional response to learning and incorporate not just curriculum outcomes, but emotional outcomes. This article is a summary of the workshop I gave at the 2017 OAPT Conference. You can watch the video and download the PowerPoint slides to learn more. Read More...

Assessment for Learning: The Check Up

Ryan Thompson, OAPT Treasurer, Physics Teacher Newmarket HS
superryanthompson@gmail.com

When the Growing Success document came out in Ontario, the terms “Assessment as, for and of learning” were introduced. Even after teaching for 13 years, I still have to pause and stare into space as I try to differentiate between the three types. Time dilation is easier than that!

I believe in timely feedback and having direct involvement in each student’s success but I am also managing a schedule that is very limited on time (time dilation again!). As a result, I try to do what I can in the classroom.

This article will be about one technique that helps me reconcile the Growing Success document’s expectations, my own philosophy of teaching and limited time in the school day. This tool is called The Check Up and it helps the teacher get quick feedback about your past lesson. Read More...

Group Work Tests for Context-Rich Problems

Chris Meyer, OAPT VP Teaching and Learning, Assistant Curriculum Leader York Mills C. I.
Christopher.meyer@tdsb.on.ca

The group work test is an assessment strategy that promotes higher-order thinking skills for solving context-rich problems. With this format, teachers are able to pose challenging, nuanced questions on a test, while providing the support weaker students need to get started and show their understanding. The test begins with a group discussion phase, when students are given a “number-free” version of the problem. This phase allows students to digest the story-like problem, explore solution ideas and alleviate some test anxiety. After ten to fifteen minutes of discussion, students inform the instructor of their readiness for the individual part of the test. What follows next is a pedagogical phase change from lively group discussion to quiet individual work1. The group work test is a natural continuation of the group work in our daily physics classes and helps reinforce the importance of collaboration. This method has met with success at York Mills Collegiate Institute, in Toronto, Ontario, where it has been used consistently for unit tests and the final exam of the grade 12 university preparation physics course. Read More...

Assessment: The Silent Killer of Learning

John Caranci, teacher Faculty of Education University of Toronto
John.caranci@utoronto.ca

Eric Mazur runs the undergraduate physics program at Harvard University. He began on a road to learn how his students learn. He first removed lecture as a teaching option in his undergraduate courses. He developed Peer Instruction as well as a plan to reform education. He uses PBL (problem-based learning), and Peer Instruction, and other engagement pedagogies in his class instead of lecturing. Read More...

How to use the OAPT Physics Contest

Roberta Tevlin, OAPT Newsletter Editor, Physics Teacher Danforth CTI
Roberta.tevlin@tdsb.on.ca

Recently, a teacher asked me for advice about how to start running the OAPT physics contest. I asked some teachers to help me answer this question. As well as finding great advice for getting students to write the contest, I also learnt about other contests and how teachers were incorporating past OAPT contest questions into their course all year long. Read More...

New Statistics Feature for the OAPT Contest

Shawn Brooks, Contest Manager, Teacher at University of Toronto Schools
sbrooks@utschools.ca

We have always strived to have a range of question difficulty on our OAPT Grade 11 Physics Contest. We now have a new statistics feature, so that teachers will be able to review how well their students did on each question. When you find that your students had a difficult time with a particular question, you could try dividing your students into groups to discuss:

  • why they agree or disagree with the official answer to the question
  • how they could re-write the question to make it easier to solve
  • why so many students picked the wrong answer
Read More...

Review: ZipGrade App for iOS and Android

Robert Prior, teacher at Agincourt CI
robert.prior@tdsb.on.ca

Are you tired of marking multiple-choice tests? Put away your overlays and highlighters, download ZipGrade to your smartphone, and not only will you save time — you'll also learn more about what your students are really thinking! Read More...

Instant Feedback Quizzes

Chris Meyer, York Mills, C. I., Toronto
christopher.meyer@tdsb.on.ca
 
We have added a self-evaluation stage to the quizzes in our grade 11 physics course, turning the quizzes into a valuable learning experience for our students (assessment for learning). Students begin by answering the quiz questions in a traditional fashion, finishing with a quick reflection about any difficulties they might have had. Next, students bring their quizzes to the front of the class where there are multiple copies of the solution and coloured pens to be used for marking. They make additions or corrections to their work, gaining immediate feedback, and submit the marked-up quiz. Read More...

From Marks to Habits: What is a “90’s” Student?

Chris Meyer, York Mills C. I., VP Teaching and Learning, OAPT
Christopher.meyer@tdsb.on.ca

Have you had a conversation with a student that went something like this?

Student: “I need a 90% in physics in order to get into engineering at ...”
Teacher (outer voice): “Well, I’ve noticed that your homework is often incomplete.”
Teacher (inner voice): “!!?!?”
Student: “I know. I’m going to work really hard now.”
Teacher (outer voice): “You need to catch up with all the material you had difficulty with back in grade 11, especially forces and motion.”
Teacher (inner voice): “Buddy, you slacked off all through grade 11. You have no idea how tough this will be .... In two months there’s going to be tears.”
Student: “OK. Thanks, bye!”
Read More...
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