Friday, September 6, 2013

Update #1 on Physics-Math Co-teaching Project

First of all, start your weekend right, and watch this:

Don't you love that? Nothing to do with this post except that it's how I started each class today. Some of our kids are sitting in front of the computer all morning and I figured they, and everybody, could benefit from getting up, dancing and laughing for a few minutes!

The Project:

Okay here's what's happening in our first-ever co-teaching project. We had really only 3 days this week, because Monday was a holiday, and Physics doesn't happen on Friday for our kids.

Here's how we're keeping track of which kid is in whose class and when, and what they're doing there. Of course I removed the actual names of our students, but on our actual schedules, their names are highlighted as you see here:

3 class schedule with st names from amcsquared

For example, the yellow kids I teach period one are also in Kerry's period 3 Physics class. Andy has the blue kids in his period one class, then I see them period 3 etc. The black X, Y, Z, W, R, and S are kids who are only in those classes.

As you can imagine, we have to make sure that:
  • Each child has access to the same content and materials, whether or not they're taking both math and physics.
  • The kids who are taking both don't hear the same thing twice a day.
  • If sequence is an issue, the kids who are taking both see things in the same sequence
  • We don't overload them with double the work - they don't need to do the same type of practice examples for both classes
That's why we have to:
  • deliver content outside of class
  • keep our class activities as stand-alone as possible
  • keep talking to each other
Here's this first week's schedule with my stuff filled in:

Tuesday was our first day, so we all did the usual first day stuff, getting to know you, using the tools, etc. Friday was used to cover some topics that were only part of the math program, since there's no physics class that day. I also took the opportunity to introduce them to geogebra, a tool that I hope the kids will use later this year to create a joint math-science manipulative.

Student feedback:

Only informal so far. The kids seem to be happy with the co-teaching. They've said that they really appreciate the common "homework" - so far that's the only advantage they have seen. One of my blue students arrived to class and said that he had had a question to ask me, but that during his Physics, it had been answered. Cool. I'm looking forward to when they see a deeper advantage - learning in context, or more deeply than they would normally do. That'll take a lot more meetings and experience on our parts, and of course the beginning of the year is probably the WORST time for that!

My feedback:

It has been great bouncing ideas off of each other. We just jumped in and got our feet wet, and I already feel like I'm doing a better job of teaching. For example, having to make the activities stand-alone and non-repetitive forced me to to come up with polar coordinates as another way to view vectors. I never did that before. And the kids REALLY responded to the spirals on their calculators, not to mention they were surprised that the calculators they have had for all these years could be put into polar mode.

The plan next week:

Next week, we're going to do operations on vectors, with lots of in-class practice and investigation. We had dreamed of doing a joint video, with the three of us pretending to do a tug of war....but my daughter is turning 18 this weekend so.....I don't think that video is gonna happen, time for some Camtasia magic animation techniques!

It's a start! In the meantime, Hatee-hatee-hatee-ho! (if you don't know what I mean, go back and watch The Fox. And geez, DANCE, will ya?)


  1. Thanks for sharing the experience! I am sure that the kids will be able to see more advantages as the year progresses. What is the next topic for co-teaching?

    Colour coding has Audrey written all over it!

    With regards to the Fox... My son is obsessed with the video and my daughter named a stuffed fox she received for her birthday... Hatee.

    1. Your kids have excellent taste! The next topic....well we don't really have any other topic that was so similar as vectors was, so we'll have to find the more subtle commonalities next. I'm thinking exponential and log functions.....but that's really more the Chemistry course. We'll see!