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July 28, 2010

This is the time of year when I start wondering what happened to that list I made at the end of school of all the school-related-things I was going to accomplish before the beginning of school.  I’m pretty sure I brought the list home with me.  I’m pretty sure I can remember some of the things on the  list, though.

This is also the time of year when the school anxiety dreams start up again.  It is less than a month before inservices begin, and my body and brain know it.  Even as a “veteran” teacher of 17+ years and six schools, there is still anxiety.  This year I will have a new freshman homeroom, or I will have a year off from homeroom duty.  I won’t know until I’m officially supposed to be back.  9th graders can be trained, but they are also clueless, so I will have to pay attention.  Unless I get a bye year, in which case I will be called on for homeroom coverage, taking attendance for absent teachers and then having to scoot to my first period class.  So I would prefer to have a freshman homeroom.  I also hope that I have homeroom in the same room I teach first period in…that is always convenient.

I know that I have the same classes this year as I had last year: three conceptual-level physics classes of mixed 11th and 12th graders, and one AP Physics C class of all seniors, in which we will attempt to get all the way through both the Mechanics and Electricity & Magnetism curricula.  Once again, I have all boys signed up, which is disappointing.  Last year I had six boys and six girls, and it was awesome.  I’ve taught all-male AP classes twice before, and while I always enjoy it I would rather have more girls and I wonder why they don’t sign up.

Some of my plans for this summer included re-arranging my curricula and re-writing unit objectives.  For the AP class, I don’t write unit objectives, I just refer students and parents (and administrators) to the “Acorn Book” put out by the College Board which details the AP curriculum for each AP subject.  But over the past couple of years my colleagues and I have revised the “curriculum maps” for first-year physics courses, and I want to make sure my conceptual-level objectives match up.  I also want to put the files all in a couple of easy-to-find places so as I get to each unit I don’t have to hunt too hard to be able to print out a copy for photocopying.  I am also debating with myself whether I want to put momentum at the beginning of the mechanics sequence.

…yeah.  Momentum.  I had the pleasure of taking Matter and Interactions with Bruce Sherwood as a distance-learning course, and in Matter and Interactions, momentum comes first.  I can see momentum as a great way to introduce the idea of force.  Only unbalanced force on a system can change the momentum of the system.  But this is not the way our textbooks do it, and not the way my colleagues do it, and I would have to work on changing assignments so that they can be done without knowing explicitly about force and energy.  It will be a challenge.

So you see why I might be feeling anxious.  It will take a lot of self-discipline to actually get all this work done before school starts up again.  I think I can accomplish some of my list.

Meanwhile, if any of you readers know of resources for teaching momentum “first” (I plan to do constant-v motion before momentum with the conceptual kids) or have suggestions (for or against), please comment!

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