133 This is a panorama shot (I was playing with that feature on my phone today, for kicks) of my last class of the day. It is the last day of the marking period, and some students are re-assessing while others do various computer-based activities. It was a good day because everyone was busy and focused.



83 This is another histogram of my AP class’s multiple-choice scores on a test. I posted a picture of one of these before. This test had 26 multiple-choice questions and on the AP Physics C exam 50% of the points will get you a 4 or a 5 (depending on how the scores work out). 20 students scored higher than 50% on the multiple choice! Overall the kids are doing pretty well! Plus, I like making histograms. 😀


20121206-154655.jpg60 Today was an assessment. I liked the winter sun streaming in on an answer key and a beaker full of purple pens, ready for students to comment on their work. I am one of the many teachers who started doing this after reading Frank Noschese’s 180 blog last year, in which he described doing this with his students. Thank you, Frank!



20121129-154724.jpg55 Well, not everyone gets it yet. But, this class overall did better than the next class, which had less time to think about their mistakes and generally doesn’t discuss things at all. Purple writing is student commentary, red writing is my commentary.



54 I am trying something new. With one class, we explicitly discussed preparing for assessment. We’ll see if that discussion motivated anyone to study in the ways we discussed and if it helped anyone when we have today’s (day 55’s) assessment. (I fell asleep before posting this last night. That is why I am posting it today, for yesterday.)



This week is the end of the marking period, and at some point in the past 8 years or so my district abandoned traditional midterm and final exams in favor of “Quarterly Assessments.” These assessments were meant to be more authentic than ye olde multiple choice tests, possibly involving projects or other ways in which students “show what they know.” However, since teachers are not ever given contract time to develop these assessments either coordinating with other teachers or even on our own, they are mostly just tests, which can be written quickly and scored quickly.

In the past I have given a test in the first marking period. I am trying something a little different this year, and I handed this sheet out to my conceptual classes today. I am allowing collaboration and looking things up. I am also allowing my students to show me their work on Wednesday and I will comment on whether or not they need to improve anything by Thursday. The B and C parts were also handed out today, and students can work on the three parts in any order.

I DO have to give a numerical grade for this. We are required to have these assessments count for 15% to 25% of the quarter grade.


26 Whenever my AP students take a test, I make a histogram of their multiple-choice scores to show them. Today’s test on applying Newton’s Laws had 24 multiple-choice questions, including the three questions from the previous test that the fewest students got correct. I’m pretty happy that my students did a lot better on this test than on the first test…at least on the multiple choice part. I am still working on scoring the two free-response questions I gave them. I use the “AP score adjustment” whereby getting somewhat around 35% of the possible points results in the passing score of “3”, so I make that my “70.” This way, most kids pass the tests. This is AP Physics C, both Mechanics and E&M, taught as a second-year course with 8 class periods/week (2 singles, 3 doubles).

And today’s spirit week theme was “Throwback Thursday.” I’m the one in 18th-century garb. That one boy really likes wearing bedsheets…

Sample Assessment

21 This is today’s assessment. You may recognize the graphs on page 1 from some of the mechanics Modeling Instruction materials available on the AMTA website. But I changed the question to fit my intent.

This student did a great job. Some students are still completely clueless. So we have some more work to do. I want to have an archive of practice problems for those kids who really need a lot of practice to get some things right. A lot of practice to build up enough myelin so that they can read a description of motion and make a position vs. time graph. If you look at the second page, I had a lot of kids who could draw the correct shape of the graph, and most of them even started the graph at the point (0s, 5m), but very few were able to put correct slopes in. So, more practice!


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Assessment 2


13 Today we had our second graphing assessment in the conceptual classes. It was supposed to be yesterday, but it made more sense to do the lab yesterday, so I asked the kids and they said having the assessment on Friday would be OK with them. Each subject area has days we are supposed to use for tests, and science gets Tuesdays and Thursdays. This was a quiz-length assessment, which can be scheduled any day.

Since these are conceptual-level kids, I gave them the formula for slope and y=mx + b on the front board. I will probably do that for as long as they need it. After all, that is something they could easily look up if they needed to know it “in the real world.”

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