The day started as a usual Physix day full of anticipation for what young brain may teach me today. A favorite Clickerism of mine was the prelude to a session whereby I would verify the extent to which my students understood the just completed Uniformly Accelerated Particle Model (UAPM). This Clickerism (shown below) is one of Eric Mazur's ConcepTests and I have used it since I purchased his book way back.
|Courtesy of Eric Mazur|
The response system gave a sobering initial distribution. So, I let the Peer Instruction process take its course and the correct choice emerged triumphantly. But, as if struck by a lightning of dissatisfaction mixed with a stroke of pure educational hunch, I turned to a group of students while pointing to the smartboard. I tasked this first group with inventing their own graph that would only satisfy option one amongst the multiple choice questions (refer to figure below.)
Note: It is a tradition of mine to honor the student who proposes amendments, suggestions, or answers by using their favorite color for such updates on the smartboard.
|First Group's Invention is shown in Blue while the Proposed Classmate's Enhancements are shown in White.|
Representative after representative went to the smartboard to share their group's inventions. During the smartborad work the students are given other tasks to keep them productively busy thinking about the original given graph of the Clickerism. And after each invention another round of validity assertion is conducted with the response system. Every ensuing discussion was better, deeper, and richer than its predecessor! The whole class was so animated that later that day some of my colleagues were wondering what was going on in the classroom. Below are the inventions of the other groups and some additional ones involving the same formative assessment idea but from other sections I teach.
|Second Group's Invention is shown in White while the Proposed Classmate's Enhancements are shown in Light Blue.|
|Third Group's Invention is shown.|
|Second Group Invention of Another Section is shown. |
|Third Group Invention of Another Section is shown. |
Many an educator would rush to loath multiple choice questions for various good reasons but a twist such as the one presented here rendered such a question a treasure trove of informative assessments! Is this the Mother of All Formative Assessments? It certainly is not but it surely felt as such for my students and me at the conclusion of each class period.
1) In education, planning is definitely good, but being flexible enough to consider off the cuff ideas is equally, if not more valuable.
2) Multiple choice questions can still lead to good education if used effectively such as was related in this post.
3) Peer Instruction is definitely a powerful educational tool and the use of technology renders it more efficacious.
4) Letting the reigns of thought turns students into better inventive young Physicists.
5) As educators, we must always challenge our selves to consider new approaches and twists, especially with methods we tend to employ routinely.
Now your turn!
Please, use the comments area to enrich this post with your own ideas, takes, and reactions. Thank you