Committed to Learning
Keeping it engaging, active and relevant
Physics students head out of room C115 in groups of two and three: masks on, safely distanced, cell phone-sized accelerometers in hand. They're on their way to collect data on velocity vs. time and acceleration vs. time ... by riding the school’s elevators.
This is the type of lab that physics teacher Frank Noschese is known for. His students experience friction by having a tug-of-war in the hallway—one team in socks, the other in shoes, and jump on scales to see the relationship between velocity and weight. The New York State Master Teacher’s commitment to active, engaging and relevant learning didn’t waver when JJHS implemented a hybrid schedule. He started a conversation hashtagged #hybrid180 with his 9,000+ Twitter followers—many of them math and science teachers—to find innovations that work.
elevator accelerations lab
Measured Motion lab
In the first week of school, Noschese posted on Twitter, “Anyone have tips for leading a class discussion when half the class is six feet apart and masked while the other half is on Zoom? I tried today and ended up lecturing too much.”
“Everyone is super about sharing their resources,” said Noschese. A physics teacher friend in Tennessee help him code to customize Desmos, a website that Noschese said has transformed his classes. The link for each class is sent to remote and in-school students through Schoology. “Students can draw on slides and work through problems on Desmos. Everyone is on their computer going through the activity at the same time and I can see everyone’s work.”
keeping cohorts A and B in sync
“My challenge with a hybrid schedule is to keep everyone moving together,” said Noschese, referring to the two cohorts in each class. For the Analyzing Elevator Accelerations lab, physics students in Cohort A rode the school elevators on Tuesday. Cohort B rode the elevators on Thursday. Both groups had time to analyze their data and complete the lab at home.
“I am actually seeing more participation this year,” said Noschese. “It’s a trade-off. There are more individual responses but I’m losing student-to-student discussion around a white board."
giving students choice
Again, an idea came from #hybrid180.
Students change their name to a number, Noschese explained, which indicates how they learn best. They are sorted accordingly.
- they’d like quiet time to work
- they’d like to be in a virtual breakout room talking and discussing with classmates
- they’d like to be in a virtual breakout room with the teacher
“I think this will help me use my time and their time well,” said Noschese.
“Is it working?” Noschese posted on Twitter at the end of September. “So far so good. Today after school, I got a really nice email from a student thanking me for being organized and making the transition to hybrid go smoothly during an otherwise stressful couple of weeks.”
Congratulations, Frank Noschese
Co-author of new edition of "Basic Physics"
Frank Noschese is co-author of the new edition of "Basic Physics: A Self-Teaching Guide."
“I am grateful to the many John Jay High School students I’ve taught over the past 20-plus years. They have taught me just as much, if not more, than I taught them. The insights I’ve gained about how students learn science have informed the revisions for this edition.” – Frank Noschese, from the acknowledgements in "Basic Physics"