We’ve got one chapter left, then a couple of review/oral assessment days and then a final. The pace of submitted assessments has really picked up and I’m trying to find the best policy for how fast my turnarounds should be. Today we decided that they could continue to do reassessments through finals week (no graduating seniors), but only if they already have a 3/4 on that standard already. That was a pretty cool conversation, actually, because they agreed that if you don’t yet have a 3 you really don’t understand the material and finals week is not the time to be learning the core material. I actually expected a little more pushback from them, since obviously they’re masters at procrastinating, but this new policy really was mutually agreed upon. Okay, I recognize that I hold all the power here, but I really do feel like it was an honest conversation.
I think my favorite part of the class at this point is how I’m having some pretty deep conversations with the students outside of class about things. Just yesterday two students and I debated the “Momentum is king” concept for half an hour. I pointed out that it didn’t seem like they were sold on it but that no one had really taken up my challenge to defend the typical “Force is queen” approach during their screencasts. It was a fun conversation because they had really put some thought into it (and gotten a couple of 2′s because they hadn’t really taken a side in their screencasts).
We’ve had some good in class conversations, too. On Wednesday I gave them a choice at the beginning of class. They could either work in groups to do a standards-assessment-like activity, or they could plow through the tedious math of finding an inertia tensor for a simple system. I pointed out that the latter would likely really help them understand the concept but that the former would be direct practice for the standard: ”I can use Mathematica to model a rigid system (either use N masses or an inertia tensor).” They were mixed on the idea, with some great comments like “if it doesn’t directly affect my standard assessment, I don’t want to do it” and “if it helps me understand the material better, let’s do it.”
Something awesome happened today in our physics department seminar course. All my students are in there along with a bunch of other juniors and seniors. One of my students asked whether the rocket thrust being discussed by a different student should be described as Newtons/second. The latter student pointed out that Newtons are already essentially a rate (while I wrote down poms/second, of course). Then a student that isn’t in my class said “I guess you just went down on that standard, huh?” Everyone laughed, which I thought was awesome because it showed me that my class is being talked about.
My biggest complaint, as it has been all semester, is the lack of timely assessments turned in, but I feel like I’ve got some great ideas to address that next time around. I feel like the general attitude of the students is positive and that keeps me going when I’m buried under a pile of screencasts and pencasts to assess.
Two more weeks of class and a final. I can do it! More importantly, they can do it!