Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Wonderful Interview with Zenpundit

I wanted to put up a link to an interview of my very good friend, fellow teacher, and historian extraordinaire, ZenPundit (aka Mark Safranski), who was a featured guest interview on Steven Pressfield's site. Check it out!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Physics Screencasts - How to Videos for AP Physics

Below are links to specific “How To” videos that are relevant to AP Physics, and are on my class blog. These show how to think about certain topics, and how to do certain problems. It has a voice-over and screencast from my tablet computer, so it is similar to being in class as we model how to do certain problems. These can be useful if you were gone the day we covered the topic, or need more examples with explanations, or want to review things from class prior to quizzams.

Student Independent Science Research


Air Friction – the math

Binary Orbits

Derivatives! What are they and how to do them.

Gravitational Potential Energy and Space Launches

Momentum Conservation – Why?

Moment of Inertia Using the Integral – Disks

Moment of Inertia Using the Integral – Sticks

Parallel Axis Theorem (finding moments of inertia)

Pendulum: Simple Harmonic Motion for small angles

Potential Wells

Quantum Numbers: Using Simple Harmonic Motion to help see where these come from

Rotations: Both Linear and Rotational Motion Simultaneously

Rotations: Collisions and Conservation of Angular Momentum

Rotations: NON-Constant Acceleration

Simple Harmonic Motion: General Derivation of sine, cosine solutions

Simple Harmonic Motion: Solving with specific initial conditions using phase angle

Special Relativity – mass and energy, where E = mc2 comes from

Tension problems with systems of objects:


Ampere’s law applications

Capacitance – how to find capacitance for the 3 types of capacitors

Capacitor Circuits – How to find stored charge

Electric Circuit analysis

Electromagnetic Induction – how Induced Currents turn on (includes circulating E-field)

Faraday’s law – Changing area with constant B-field

Faraday’s law – Changing B-field with constant area

Gauss’s law with conductors

Gauss’s law with NON-conductors: charge density

Gauss’s law with NON-uniform charge densities

Integration of E-fields to get Potential

LC Circuit – similar to simple harmonic motion

Magnetic Flux – Rectangular loop next to straight wire with current

Magnetic force between two current carrying wires

Mass Spectrometers and Velocity Selectors – magnetic forces, F = qv x B

Point Charge Systems – finding total electric fields and potentials

Projectile Motion of Electric Charges

RC Circuits – Charging Capacitor (series RC)

RC Circuits – Discharging Capacitor (series RC)

RC Circuits – Resistor and capacitor in parallel

RL Circuits – Current as functions of time

National Core Standards Released

Over the past year, a national committee has been working on K-12 Core Standards for language arts and mathematics. I still need to look through the details, but here is a clip from the introductory material.

Core Standards

(From Key Considerations, page 4 of document)

"Grade levels for K–8; grade bands for 9–10 and 11–12
The Standards use individual grade levels in kindergarten through grade 8 to provide useful specificity; the Standards use two-year bands in grades 9–12 to allow schools, districts, and states flexibility in high school course design.

A focus on results rather than means
By emphasizing required achievements, the Standards leave room for teachers,curriculum developers, and states to determine how those goals should be
reached and what additional topics should be addressed. Thus, the Standards do not mandate such things as a particular writing process or the full range of metacognitive strategies that students may need to monitor and direct their thinking and learning. Teachers are thus free to provide students with whatever tools and knowledge their professional judgment and experience identify as most helpful for meeting the goals set out in the Standards.

An integrated model of literacy
Although the Standards are divided into Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, and Language strands for conceptual clarity, the processes of communication are closely connected, as reflected throughout this document. For example, Writing standard 9 requires that students be able to write about what they read. Likewise, Speaking and Listening standard 4 sets the expectation that students will share findings from their research.

Research and media skills blended into the Standards as a whole

To be ready for college, workforce training, and life in a technological society, students need the ability to gather, comprehend, evaluate, synthesize, and report on information and ideas, to conduct original research in order to answer questions or solve problems, and to analyze and create a high volume and extensive range of print and nonprint texts in media forms old and new. The need to conduct research and to produce and consume media is embedded into every aspect of today’s curriculum. In like fashion, research and media skills and understandings are embedded throughout the Standards rather than treated in a separate section.

Shared responsibility for students’ literacy development

The Standards insist that instruction in reading, writing, speaking, listening,and language be a shared responsibility within the school. The K–5 standards include expectations for reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language applicable to a range of subjects, including but not limited to ELA. The grades 6–12 standards are divided into two sections, one for ELA and the other for history/social studies, science, and technical subjects. This division reflects the unique, time-honored place of ELA teachers in developing students’ literacy skills while at the same time recognizing that teachers in other areas must have a role in this development as well.

Part of the motivation behind the interdisciplinary approach to literacy promulgated by the Standards is extensive research establishing the need for college and career ready students to be proficient in reading complex informational text independently in a variety of content areas. Most of the required reading in college and workforce training programs is informational in structure and challenging in content; postsecondary education programs typically provide students with both a higher volume of such reading than is generally required in K–12 schools and comparatively little scaffolding.

The Standards are not alone in calling for a special emphasis on informational text. The 2009 reading framework of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) requires a high and increasing proportion of informational text on its assessment as students advance through the grades."

On the surface, I like what is stated here, as I agree and have argued for this sort of educational philosophy for years. I do hope in practice this approach still prevails. We will need to see what happens during the implementation phase with state Boards of Education. I am sure there will be much more to come on this one.