Monday, February 6, 2012

Winter Meeting: Monday Night

Here's an interesting one - an hour on the AP Physics B Course and Exam redesign (about time!):
  • Well, of course the NRC accused AP Physics B of being a mile wide and an inch deep - it's the poster child for it!
  • That seems to have been a trigger for similar redesigns of other AP courses
  • Interesting, but not really surprising, bar graph of the results of surveys of colleges about coverage of topics in different semesters
  • Good seven big ideas of physics: don't have time to get them down, but... Systems have properties, interactions are forces, waves mediate p and E exchange, math is useful for describing nature, didn't get the rest
  • Tradeoff: reduced credit for students scoring well on the B exam if it's split, but increased access (especially given that they always recommended B being a second year course)
  • I might like this...
  • It might not align well with some state graduation requirements (like California)
  • They're promising a detailed curriculum framework, including boundaries and depth
  • Adding inquiry and conceptual reasoning
  • Proposed release date: Fall 2014
  • Nice question: "I was at one of these meetings two years ago, and I saw a similar talk, that said that it would be coming out in two years."
  • They're saying that having B1 (mechanics) as a first course would prepare students to do well with both parts of AP C in a second year.  The idea of having an option for the B1 kids to take a second year (particularly those without the calculus prereq.) of physics is good, though I don't have a free prep to teach it!
  • Now we're talking about the curriculum
  • They're saying that the curriculum isn't a sequence or a pacing guide, but instead a framing of the seven big ideas
  • Each big idea has some 'enduring understandings' subordinate to it
  • Below that, there's 'essential knowledge' (more than just facts, allegedly) and 'science practices: inquiry and reasoning'
  • Below that, nougat
  • A second shot at Big Ideas: "Objects and systems have properties such as mass and charge.  Systems may have internal structure," "Fields existing in space can be used to explain interactions," "that force/interaction one", "missed one", ""Changes that occur as a reult of interactions are constrained by conservation laws," "Waves can transfer E and p from one location to another without the permanent transfer of mass and serve as a math. model for the desc. of other phenomena," "The math. of probability can be used to describe the behavior of complex systems and to interpret the..."  Sorry - I type too slowly
  • The division here lends itself pretty well to SBG
  • The "science practices" are being shared among different AP science courses - that'll help out our benchmarking!
  • Some examples: models/representations, math, questioning, plan and implement data collection, three or four more; they says that they're available on the AP site, since they're common to all courses
  • Each of those comes with several skills used to demonstrate the desired practice
  • Essential knowledge and science practices are alleged to collide inelastically and usefully to the teacher to become learning objectives
  • They've promised that there are no required labs about 6 times
  • An unfortunate example of one of the Essential Knowledge items: "A force exerted on an object is always due to the interaction of that object with another object."  Will there be a list of underlying assumptions, since there's a big one behind that statement?
  • Rotation being added (angular kinematics and momentum, torque without angular acceleration)
  • For some reason... intro circuits is in the AP 1 course.
  • It's starting to look a bit more packed now: kinematics, dynamics, p, E, oscillations, waves and sound, rotation, statics, electric circuits
  • C courses left untouched (at this point)
  • Symbolic problem-solving, lab and analytical skills, experimental design, more reasoning questions, deeper conceptual questions, error analysis, much more writing to justify understanding: changes to the exam
  • Overall, it seems like a good pitch.  We'll see how it plays out (can you tell that I'm skeptical of the College Board? :) 
  • Afterwards, a good story when talking to the presenter about the (grossly disfunctional) AP audit process: one of the teachers that wrote one of the sample syllabi on the site (which I basically had to copy to get them to accept my audit proposal) had her syllabus rejected. :)

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