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Any Road Will Take You There

The idea of a personalized learning environment seems like a wonderful idea.  Students working at their own pace and on their own way to demonstrate mastery of learning targets.  But as a teacher, it seems like an impossible task to manage.  How could it be possible to keep everyone on track?  It has the possibility of being a chaotic environment which could feel like a free for all.  

This week in our physics course, we are finally seeing what we had envisioned become reality.  We are into our 3rd unit of the school year. It is projectile motion and we're nearing the end of it. For their summative assessment for the unit, students will be assessed using the following rubric.

Although all students had the same outcomes, they were given a variety of different ways to demonstrate mastery.

Option 1: Sports Project Check-in
Our project for the 1st term focuses on the driving question “How can I use physics to hack sports?”  Students are focusing on a specific technique within a specific sport and using and analysis of the physics behind it to advocate for technique.  We have so far studied the linear motion and forces of the technique.  In our current unit, students are applying the fundamentals of projectile motion.  They are analyzing the motion of the projectile to track position, velocity, and acceleration over time.  Then, presenting that data individually to demonstrate understanding.  

Students who finish this before the end of the work time in class for the unit will begin story boarding their final video project that addresses the driving question.  After we finish the next unit, all students will begin work on the video.

Not all sport techniques involve projectiles, though.  Those individuals have a choice between options 2 and 3 which are problem based scenarios.

Option 2: Marshmallow Launcher
The design challenge for this option is to create a marshmallow launcher which can hit a target that will be placed at a random distance between 3 and 5 meters.  Students work on designing and constructing a launcher over the course of 2 class periods.  On the 3rd day, they film a video and create graphs which show position, velocity, and acceleration over time.  They then present this information to their teacher in their preferred format in order to demonstrate mastery.

Option 3: Angry Birds
Those students who either did not bring in materials for the launcher construction or did not have an interest in constructing a launcher were given the task of comparing the motion of Angry Bird projectiles to projectiles on earth.  Students recorded the screen of another individual playing Angry Birds and constructed graphs of the motion in order to determine position, velocity, and acceleration over time. This data was then presented to the teacher using the rubric as a guide to ensure all areas were addressed.

Finally, all students were required to complete a set of practice projectile problems on Canvas.  These problems were a mix of conceptual and calculations.  

These days were some of the most encouraging of the year so far.  Students were working at their own pace on what they had chosen from the menu of options.  They all knew that they were going to be assessed using the same rubric, but were able to reach the same finish line in their own way.  

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