Thursday, September 19, 2013

Update #2 on Coteaching Project

Team vector's story so far:

Week 1:
  • the basic definition of a vector
  • the different representations (arrows, components, etc)
  • the various calculations involved, all of which were based on math that was really review, ie using sin and cos to find the components, using arctan to find the direction, and using pythagoras to find the magnitude.
  • In math only: relationships between vectors (identical, opposite, collinear, orthogonal)
  • We tried to coordinate and vary the activities in our classes, so that, of course, the kids wouldn't get bored, but more importantly so that they could see things in different depths and contexts - formally in math, and concretely in physics. For example, I showed them the polar coordinate system to help visualize vectors, particularly the way the angles are named, and Kerry and Andy had them performing various calculations involving velocity and force vectors, such as decomposing a vector. They probably paid more attention to things like units than I did. But I got to show the kids how to put their calculators in polar mode and graph pretty flowers and spirals!
  • To spread out the load, we took turns making the voicethreads - Kerry made the intro to vectors one, and I made the representations one etc.
  • We wanted to make the team aspect of this very visible, so we commented on all of the voicethreads, whether or not we were the author. That's another reason voicethread is a great tool for this kind of collaboration.
Week 2:
  • operations on vectors - addition, subtraction, and multiplication by a scalar.
  • all of these operations done in all of the various representations
  • We started using a googledocs version of our joint schedule (see previous post) so we could keep each other updated.
  • We tried to step it up a bit with the visible teamwork. Kerry and I had envisioned a video with all of us in it, because it would be fun for everyone, kids and teachers. We wanted to introduce vector addition with the three of us having a real tug of war, but of course time and distance got the better of us, so here's what we ended up with:

  • As you can see by their comments, the kids really enjoyed this one! Just imagine if we were able to really get together and act out stuff like this - I bet the retention rate would be off the scale!
  • We, the teachers, tried to meet to give feedback, but we were only able to manage 2 people at a time. All agreed that this has been great fun, and we'll try it again, if not later this year, next year for sure.
Week 3:
  • Here's where our paths diverged, because this was as far as the Physics course went in terms of content. But now they would start applying their skills big time to solve vectors problems.
  • In math, dot product (two different methods)
  • Chasles' property
  • Linear combinations
  • Applications
  • We're still in the same neighbourhood, but we didn't really coteach much this week.
Thoughts for next time:

I hope this isn't the end of coteaching this year, but we have to find a logical place to try it again. It may be that I'll move to chemistry - logs and exponentials maybe? Fortunately, Kerry is also the teacher for that course! Things to work on:
  • We need to meet much more often, before, during, and after. More planning, coordinating, cross-feedback, followup - more goodness!
  • Team videos are so happening. But we are so rarely in the same physical space that we need to know what we're doing before we meet again - which will probably be Christmas, or maybe even June.
  • We need to find more ways to cross-pollinate. How can we use this strategy to get to the really deep, unexpected, authentic, real-life important learning?
Thanks for reading, any ideas or questions are hysterically welcome!


  1. Thoughts, in order...
    1 - When I see your little faces cut out like that, I feel a JibJab coming.
    2 - the facial expressions, especially Andy's "oooh, a doll" face... LOL
    3 - I loved seeing the comments roll in as soon as you asked a question. Did you moderate the comments so the students were not seeing their classmates answers when they first viewed the video?
    4 - Maybe we need some Learning day time for planning another co-teaching session? It is great to read your reflection. How did the kids reflect at the end?

    1. Yes it is quite jib-jab-esque. Not what I had envisioned, but fun! I'm glad you noticed Andy's facial expression there, that made me laugh as I did it. He liked it too! I didn't moderate the comments, I always make them show up right away. The kids tell me that they only look at other comments after they make their own. I'm going to get their reflections after their first test. How it felt from their end, what worked and what didn't, and their ideas for improvements are what I would really like to hear about.
      Thanks for commenting as usual Dianne!

  2. Audrey--you are too funny! You have your students attention, that's for sure. They will want to view your VT's. Well done! Love the co-teaching idea--Andy, Kerry & Audrey--looking forward to seeing more!