Physics 12 and Peer Instruction

I have been reflecting on how I taught Physics 12 last year, and I’m not super happy with how much lecturing I did. In the big picture it probably wasn’t too bad and I didn’t give a lot of notes (which is a good thing).  I used peer instruction from time to time, and I liked how that turned out.  In contrast to this, Physics 11 is much more inquiry based course, which is great.  Having done inquiry labs in Physics 11, I don’t see much point in repeating them again in grade 12.  Much of the curriculum is the same between the two physics courses, where Physics 12 takes mostly the same mechanics topics and approaches them with vectors and 2D.  On top of that, I’ve had a difficult time coming up with inquiry labs for the electricity part of Physics 12. I think the natural conclusion from this is that I should use peer instruction more often this year.

The next question then, is how to best approach peer instruction in the class on a consistent basis.  One of Mazur’s suggestions is that the students do pre-reading at home.  Another option would be to shrink the lectures to sub-1o minutes.  The last option would be to do a short video lecture that the students watch from home.

I think home reading isn’t a bad way to go.  Our Physics 12 textbook is a bit over the heads of many of the students though, and I know that they find the book difficult to read from.  However, I could change my guided notes into complete notes, and have the students read them.  Below is an example of my guided notes, where I break the text into areas and groups which I hopes consolidate ideas and concepts.

Obviously I would have to remove the “guided” part from these notes and offer complete notes.  From this idea, I have one concern and one idea.

Concern I tried home reading a few times last year and it was not a success.  Most students didn’t do the reading.  Perhaps if the home reading was consistent and required from a learning point of view, this would change the classroom culture.

An Idea One thought that popped into my head is that I could give the students the guided notes as seen above, and their homework task would be to fill it out following a screencast that I do.  Again, I don’t know how many students would be motivated enough to do this before each lesson.  There are indications that students generally don’t like watching video lectures at home.  However, following a video to complete 2 sides of notes may work better.

As usual, I would love getting some feedback on this issue.  Home reading? Notes screencast?  Keep it all in the classroom?  Your thoughts are appreciated!