Saturday, October 15, 2011

I'm done with Motion and Forces

And I'm already behind.

California's Standard Set 1 is "Motion and Forces." It covers basic kinematics, Newton's laws, circular motion, and gravity. And it constitutes 20% of the California Standards Test. A case could be made that Motion and Forces should therefore occupy 20% of one's year-long physics schedule. If the school year is 180 days, Motion and Forces should be the topic for 36 days.

We hit 36 days of instruction this week. And we finished our unit on UCM & Gravity this week. It would appear that I'm right on schedule.

But I'm not. I'm behind.

CSTs are not administered following 180 days of instruction. They are given after about 140 days of instruction. For us, that's mid- to late-April.

So only 28 days should have been devoted to Motion and Forces. I should already be deep into Standard Set 2: Conservation of Energy and Momentum.

As it is, I teach California's 9-12 Physics Standards across a 180-day schedule rather than the artificially-imposed 140-day schedule.

Even at my relatively slow pace, I get the sense that I'm out in front of many physics teachers. We tend to be big fans of Motion and Forces. Many choose to plumb Motion and Forces to depths far beyond what the state of California asks for.

I'm willing to let the state provide guidance on which topics to teach. I am employed by the state to teach physics, so I teach the physics the state asks me to teach.

But I can't bring myself to squeeze all that content into 140 days of a 180-day school year. The STAR testing schedule forces testing to be done in April for the convenience of the Department of Education and their testing contractor. The timetable is artificial and pedagogically meaningless, so I don't adhere to it.

1 comment: said...

We thought you might like this fun lesson to review motion with Edgar Allan Poe's "Pit and the Pendulum"