Rockin' in Room 104
Mr. Quiroz is hard at work developing a group space where students should feel free to investigate the laws of physics, and to become strong critical thinkers. He is also working hard to fix and organize equipment for the upcoming school year!
As a problem-solver at heart, Mr. Quiroz thought it necessary to map out the new room (to the nearest half foot or so) rather than moving furniture over and over! The problem: to design a space that is inviting, safe, inspires creativity, and inspires collaboration. As he worked on this problem, he realized that tables could easily be arranged into a large circle for discussions, grouped for small group discussions, and arranged for individual performance objectives.
To make his somewhat precise map, he used the tile floors and the fact that the tiles line up with most of the walls, not to mention that the tiles are 1 square foot each. He made a quick sketch on the whiteboard, then translated that into a fine drawing on large graph paper. He had to determine a scale that would fit inside the graph paper (1 grid length represents 2 feet). Using that ratio, he made a scale diagram of the classroom.
Mr. Quiroz used sticky notes cut to scale to represent the major furniture in the classroom. It is much easier to move a piece of paper around rather than the tables (which require two people to safely move). Picture below is the small group arrangement. The gray rectangle represents the gray floor section within the classroom. The large table represented on the right is going to be a "conference table" for focus groups.
In the process of moving rooms, new equipment (like this old computer cart) got repurposed to carry all of the track equipment and triple-beam balances. It can be moved to an easy location within the classroom so students can design their own experiments in motion.
Needless to say, Mr. Quiroz is excited to offer Conceptual Physics to the incoming freshmen!
Conceptual Physics is the study of the interactions of matter and energy. The class uses the modeling approach which gets the students to delve into direct observation, graphical analysis, and develop mathematical models with defined boundaries. Rather than teaching equations and solving math problems, this class focuses on the interactions of variables and a deeper understanding of the physical world, not to mention witness the invaluable connection of math to the real world. There will be problems to solve, labs to complete, and tests to take, but the students will be on their own journey of understanding that will provide a deeper connection than any traditional lecture could possibly provide.
Physics Learning Flipped! Conceptual Physics is a Flipped Classroom which means that it clearly defines what are called the individual space and group space. Instead of the basic learning happening in the classroom (the group space) where different students learn at different rates, the learning happens on the student's own time (the individual space). This allows for a much more relaxed atmosphere in the classroom as students work on the harder work (traditionally assigned as "homework") during the group space where a teacher, and, more importantly, other students are available for help. Class time will be devoted to applying physics and learning how to think like and work like a scientist.