The Finishing Touches

By Monday, January 23, 2017 , , , 0

This post considers the final parts of the teaching of the IB physics course. Although there is usually still a way to go (especially for HL), the teaching should be in its final stages and the crucial revision process then begins (if it has not already started – earlier blogs).

Interestingly, this stage is where as a teacher, I find out about all my mistakes along the way, or the impact the school’s ‘system’ has had on my teaching. This is where we all find out just how much revision time we have, in order to fully prepare the students for their exams.  It is where we discover the impact of the lessons that were not focused enough, or the true cost of all those lessons lost due to school commitments like sport, music, etc.  And crucially, it is where we are able to reflect on this and modify what we will do next year.

At this stage, my HL students will be about to take their mock exams and then we hit the last topic – the Astrophysics option. I will not go into this choice at this stage, I will leave the discussion of the different options for a later blog, but Astrophysics is a bit of a ‘crowd pleaser’. The subject is a good mix of past science covered on the course, it has nice ‘story-lines’ and it seems to fill most people with a strong sense of wonder. The aim is to complete the option by half term and this should leave enough time to make sure the students are well-prepared for the exams after Easter.

In preparation for the final Option, we should be thinking about how much to teach, how it will fit into the time between now and around half-term and throw away thoughts of embellishment – there really is not time for it.  The course is huge and the students will need every opportunity to get ready for the exams. Also the astrophysics option has few experiments and what I could conceive of, will probably be ignored, again because of the time issue.

My advice is the make sure the revision documents are ready and consider letting the students know about the IB QuestionBank software. Your school may have this, but of course, it is not available for the new course. In fact the company selling it have now dropped the software – so I guess the only way of finding it, is to search the web for it. Although it is for the previous versions of the course, most of the material is still applicable to the present work – so they should consider it – thermal physics is arguably the biggest change.

Finally, remember that when the revision starts, the emphasis should always be placed on the students – if you do all the questions for them, they will learn very little. It is crucial that students try questions themselves, commit answers to paper and then mark them to the rigor of the marking schemes. This will take time of course, and that will soon be in short supply.

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