Let the students write the standards.

This year we throw students into an inquiry on day one of a unit. We go for a few days, even a week with a goal for the inquiry but almost no physics words surrounding the goal. Eventually we invite the textbook and a problem set into the classroom. The day after that we give the students a list of standards, some from lists I made with another teacher, some from the state and some from other physics teachers who have published their standards.

I cannot say enough good about what I learn when I let the students write the standards. This week we gave them these to filter through their experiences:
  • Predict how the electric force between charged objects varies when the distance between them and/or the magnitude of charges change.
  • Explain why acquiring a large excess static charge (e.g., pulling off a wool cap, touching a Van de Graaff generator, combing) affects your hair.
  • Charged objects can attract electrically neutral objects by induction.
  • Draw the redistribution of electric charges on a neutral object when a charged object is brought near.
  • Identify examples of induced static charges.
  • Explain why an attractive force results from bringing a charged object near a neutral object.
  • Determine the new electric force on charged objects after they touch and are then separated.
  • Propose a mechanism based on electric forces to explain current flow in an electric circuit.

They gave us this list to choose from after running these through the filter of their inquiry, readings, and listening in class.

  • Be able to create enough static electricity to make a balloon stay in the air for more than 30 seconds.
  • Be able to use Coulombs law for real life situations.
  • Calculate the force when you're given the two charges and the distance between the charges.
  • Predict how the electric force between charged objects varies when the distance between them and/or the magnitude of charges change.
  • Be able to use Coulomb's Law to determine force when given a graph.
  • Know how to use Coulomb's Law in context.
  • Know what causes static electricity.
  • Be able to identify/recognize induction and conduction in real-life events.
  • Be able to calculate force, charge, and distance using Coulomb's law.
  • how to eat bacon w/o getting shocked by it's magical awesomeness
  • Understand the relationship between force and charge and how it relates to electronic fields
  • Being able to present this relationship to the class through an experiment
  • Coulomb's Law: be able to apply it in situations that you could encounter daily.
  • Be able to explain what makes something negatively charged, positively charged, and where the energy goes once touched against something.
  • Be able to shock someone.
  • Each individual should be able to conduct their own electrostatic experiment and be able to measure the force.
  • Be able to understand your static electricity knowledge by giving a demonstration of static electricity.
  • Know how to use Coulomb's Law in real life situations.

We loved all the highlighted ones, laughed at the bold one and picked the blue ones. We have crafted more lessons based on these student chosen standards so that they can make progress towards these goals. There are things we never would have thought of in here that motivate students to really dig into the topics.