Sunday, December 7, 2014

Week 12 - POEs in a #flipclass

Every Monday at 8pm there are two Twitter chats that I often like to participate in. #cdnedchat is where I get to discuss some general teaching related topics and connect with other Canadian educators, and #flipclass is where I get to discuss things people are trying in their flipped classrooms and connect with other like-minded educators. I use social media a lot for the sake of connecting with the like-minded. If you are one of the many, many teachers on twitter you probably understand the draw to do this - as there is nothing more daunting than trying to be a pioneer in education without a bunch of support around you.

This week in the #flipclass chat we were discussing ways to engage students in the all-important in-class portion of our blended classrooms and I mentioned that I make use of the idea of POEs to tryo to engage students and attempt to address misconceptions in physics. The concept itself is not new, but I am finding myself doing it more often now than i used to, and using virtual demonstrations to do it as much as I am. So for those of you who are wondering "what is a POE" I will attempt to explain.

POE stands for Predict, Observe, Explain. It was my physics instructor in the Queen's B.Ed. program that introduced me to this. You can do this formally where students record the process or do it informally as a whole class out loud. The formal process usually uses a page split into 4 boxes. In the top left they predict what is going to happen (drawing and/or explanation), top right they explain why they think that is going to happen, and then after we actually watch the demo they record what they observed (bottom left) and we work to explain why it happened (bottom right). The first few times doing this I often have the class help me form a list of possible predictions by posing a question such as "if a Grade 6 walked in right now what might they say is going to happen?" so that we can get a broad list and so that students feel safe offering any possible option.

In the process of doing this you can often help students identify their misconceptions in physics (this process helped me see my own, even in my BEd year!). The POE demo you choose should be relatively simple to explain and do and should focus on one idea or concept. This process also allows students to practice the hypothesis part of the scientific method as they are forced to try to think about the physics in order to make their prediction (since they must explain their choice).

Here are some examples:

Refraction: put an object in a tank of water and aim a meter stick at a specific spot. As students to predict what will happen when you put the meter stick in at that angle.

Relative Motion: try something like Frank Noschese has here (my students loved it)

Conservation of Energy: use a YouTube video that shows two balls released down two tracks that start and end at the same heights but do not have the same path in between

I would love to hear other ideas from people - so if you have suggestions or ones you have tried please post them in the comments section. Specifically I am always looking for ideas for 1D and 2D motion, 1D and 2D forces, work and energy, waves, and introductory electromagnetics.

Happy demos!

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