Long Answers (free response questions)

How great to reach out across the pond and catch up again with Patrick Kaplo (an early hero of the podcast who teaches in Windham, NH). He has been hunkering down and adapting to new paradigms, and it is refreshing to hear that the problems we are all dealing with are pretty similar, no matter where you are in the world.

Patrick has been adapting to less opportunity for lab work with some useful online tools, like Pivot (see links below!). It’s a commercial product but it allows your students to make measurements of real-life situations and so can help with data collection and analysis skills even if your opportunities for lab work are limited. If you happen to be doing gas laws, there’s a free lab simulation that Thomas has used with some success – see the links section for more!

This week we talk about long-answer of free-response questions – those opportunities we give students to give an extended written answer. We reflect that it is often a skill that is either undervalued, or under-practised with both teachers and students finding them tough going, and generally a bit unrewarding. Robin has an attack of pomposity and argues that communication is a skill that is vital to the scientists of the future, and so written communication is worth practising.

Discussion of the issue revealed that it is a skill we teach, and at some level we all ask our physicists to plan a response, and in building these skills, you might want to spend a bit of time coaching this planning phase (using teamwork, ideas on Post-Its, etc.). As always, if you have a resource or a tip to help people out, just let us know.

Links

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