Another Year

Another chance to actually put things in my blog.

The big new thing I’m doing this year is using computation in my classes. My AP1 class is starting with Excel and my AP2 class is starting with vPython via glowscript (


Objectives and 4-6-8-10 SBG for AP Physics 1

My grading policy for my AP Physics 1 class follows. It’s based on this. I decided to go with 4 instead of 5 because of the symmetry of using only even numbers, and since my sincere how is that by the end of each term there are no records that equate to “No attempt made or work shows no understanding of this skill,” it won’t matter whether that counts as 4 or 5.


From my syllabus’ Grading Policy:

Grading on Standards – Assessment is a tool to enhance learning. Students will be graded on their demonstration of mastery over a list of topics.

Each standard contains one or more sub-standards. Each standard is graded binary 4/6/8/10 point scale.

10: Mastery of the subject demonstrated. All (or all of the relevant) sub-skills are shown. The errors (if any) are merely cosmetic.

8: Developing understanding. Several of the sub-skills are shown. There are some errors or omissions in the work.

6: Beginning understanding. Some of the sub-skills are shown. Significant conceptual errors may be present.

4: No attempt made or work shows no understanding of this skill.

The concept of mastery leave no room for inaccuracy nor carelessness. A 10 can be difficult to obtain and demonstrates true mastery of a concept.

Standards will be assessed multiple times throughout the term. Standards may be assessed multiple times on a single test. The highest score that a student achieves on an assessment will be the score recorded in the gradebook.

Term grade

Each standard is worth 10 points and the final term grade will be the students highest score on each objective covered during the term. Standards not covered at least two weeks prior to the end of a trimester will not be counted in that trimester.


An unlimited number of reassessments are available by request via Google form, however… students must have specific details in regards to where he or she was lacking in previous assessment and specific detail about what the student has done with the feedback given to improve understanding, which are fields included in the Google form. Insufficiently vague requests may be denied by the teacher.

Reassessments will be completely different from the original assessment, but they will cover the same standard. Reassessments will cover the requested standard as well as up to two other standards.

The original assessment and reassessment will be of equal difficulty.

Assessment Types

Free quizzes: At least twice a week, quizzes which are not graded for credit, but which I will use to give feedback which will need to be taken into account on graded assessments. Some of these problems may be taken from homework or modified from homework assignments.

Ungraded Homework: Students will also be able to turn in homework at any time to receive feedback. Homework is not graded for credit, but detailed feedback will be given to students who turn homework in.

Scored quizzes: at least weekly, scored quizzes will be given in class

Conversations with students: while discussing concepts with students either it or out of class, the teacher may decide that, as a result of a conversation, a student has achieved mastery of a topic and may be awarded credit in the gradebook for that topic without any written assessment required.

Open ended problems/writing: Students will be given a scenario. The students may then decide what question to pose that is applicable to the scenario and which standards to demonstrate in writing out a clear, complete solution to their problem.

Lab Reports: The only method of credit assessment which students can perform outside of the class is their lab report writing. Despite traditional grades not being given to lab reports, students are expected to write full lab reports as instructed, which a significant focus on the analysis of data and demonstration of mastery of standards throughout the report.

Tests: For each unit, there will be at least 1 in class test.

Final Exam

This course is designed to prepare students to take the College Board’s AP Physics 1 Exam. Because of the introduction of AP Physics 1, this course has replaced Honors Physics, which was traditionally offered as the first-year high school physics course. Students will have the option to take the AP exam or to take an alternative teacher-prepared exam upon completion of the course. Before Spring Break, the instructor will recommend to students which exam it is suggested they take. Student performance and top-line standards mastery will be used to determine teacher recommendations for taking the Advanced Placement exam.

Then come the standards, in 12 Units. These are in the order in which I intent to teach them, and this list is wholly subject to change.

Math Review

MAT.A     I understand and can use scientific notation for calculation and estimation, and convert SI units and determine derived units from base units through equations.

MAT.A.1: I can use scientific notation for calculation and estimation
MAT.A.2: I can convert SI units
MAT.A.3: I can determine derived units and unit combinations from base unit equations
MAT.A.4: I can use MLT generalized unit analysis

MAT.B     I know the difference between scalar and vector quantities, and can manipulate vector quantities through the use of scaled diagrams, x- and y- components, and angles between vectors with SOHCAHTOA.

MAT.B.1  I can differentiate between scalars and vectors
MAT.B.2  I can find x- and y- components of vector quantities
MAT.B.3  I can add vector quantities and multiple vectors by scalars

MAT.C     I can draw accurate graphs from both data sets and from equations (linear and nonlinear), recognize graphical relationships, linearize non-linear graphs, and solve for the slope and y-intercept of linear graphs.

MAT.C.1  I can draw graphs from data sets
MAT.C.2  I can recognize linear trends and linearize nonlinear trends
MAT.C.3  I can find the slope and intercept, including units, and write the equation for the line using the correct identifiers for the values on the x-axis and y-axis
MAT.C.4  I can relate the slope to some constant physical quantity in an experiment

MAT.D     I can solve algebraic equations symbolically and numerically, including use of calculator and scientific notation.

MAT.D.1     I can solve algebraic equations symbolically and numerically, including use of calculator and scientific notation.

Constant Velocity Particle Motion

CVPM.A        I can describe the difference between position, distance and displacement, speed and velocity

CVPM.A.1      I can use units and directions to make these distinctions.

CVPM.B        I can solve problems involving average speed and velocity, and instantaneous speed and velocity, displacement, position, and time.

CVPM.B.1      I can calculate average speed and velocity
CVPM.B.2      I can determine instantaneous speed and velocity
CVPM.B.3      I can distinguish between average and instantaneous measurements
CVPM.B.4      I can describe why all velocity and speed measurements are technically measurements of average values, and what we mean by “instantaneous” in these experimental measurements

CVPM.C        I can interpret/draw graphs of position or velocity versus time objects moving at constant velocity and identify and relate these quantities from graphs.

CVPM.C.1      I can draw correct graphs of position and velocity versus time for word problems and from data tables where velocity is piecewise constant
CVPM.C.2      I can use the slope of the position-time graph to find the instantaneous velocity
CVPM.C.3      I can use the area under the curve of the velocity-time graph to determine the displacement over a time interval.
CVPM.C.4      I can use the linear equation to relate the velocity and displacement graphically

Balanced Forces Particle Model

BFPM.A     I can draw properly labeled free body diagrams and decomposed FBDs showing all forces acting on an object, and identify forces which are of equal magnitude.

BFPM.A.1      I can draw FBDs showing all the forces acting on an object
BFPM.A.2      I can identify forces which must be of equal magnitude to be balanced and label them using congruency markings
BFPM.A.3      I can decompose forces in a FBD into components
BFPM.A.4      I can draw a force addition diagram to determine whether an object is experiencing zero or non-zero net force.

BFPM.B          I understand and can apply Newton’s First Law when forces are balanced

BFPM.B.1       I can determine from a FBD whether the forces on an object are balanced or unbalanced and relate that to the constant or changing velocity of the object.
BFPM.B.2       I can define inertial mass and describe the concept of inertia.
BFPM.B.3       I can describe experimental details to determine the inertial mass of an object using both high-tech (force sensor) equipment and low tech (spring scale) equipment.

BFPM.C     I understand and can apply Newton’s 2nd Law of Motion to find undetermined forces when the forces are balanced.

BFPM.C.1       I can utilize a FBD to determine the “sum of the forces” along any direction
BFPM.C.2       I can use FBDs to identify whether forces are balanced or unbalanced in both the horizontal and vertical directions, then apply the appropriate motion models to each.

BFPM.D         I can identify situations where forces are balanced as constant velocity motion situations.

BFPM.D.1      I can identify situations where forces are balanced as constant velocity motion situations.

Constant Acceleration Particle Motion

CAPM.A       I can define and calculate acceleration with direction and proper units.

CAPM.A.1      I can interpret different combinations of time units for accelerated motion

CAPM.B        I can interpret/draw graphs for accelerated motion

CAPM.B.1     I can relate velocity and acceleration algebraically and graphically to determine how the speed of an object is changing.
CAPM.B.2      I can use piecewise constant acceleration graphs to determine the various changes in velocity of an object
CAPM.B.3      I can use piecewise constant acceleration graphs to sketch the displacement as a function of time and describe the displacement using phrases such as “increasing at an increasing rate”

CAPM.C        I can use kinematic equations to solve problems of linear motion.

CAPM.C.1      I can use kinematics equations with proper subscripts
CAPM.C.2      I can identify distinct periods of constant acceleration and apply kinematics equations piecewise to solve problems

CAPM.D        I can solve problems involving different acceleration along different axes, such as problems of projectile motion.

CAPM.D.1      I can separate problems into vertical and horizontal components
CAPM.D.2      I can relate the motion along the axes through the time of the motion
CAPM.D.3      I can identify important features of parabolic projectile motion

Dynamics of Particles

UFPM.A     I understand and can apply Newton’s 2nd Law of Motion

UFPM.A.1      I can relate the “sum of the forces” to a FBD using + and – signs appropriately to indicate force directions
UFPM.A.2      I can determine the sign of the acceleration depending on the choice of +
UFPM.A.3      I can apply Newton’s Second Law to find unknown forces, accelerations, masses, weights, etc. in problems such as Atwood machines and calculations which take place in accelerating or constant velocity elevators.

UFPM.B     I can solve problems involving objects on ramps and inclined planes

UFPM.B.1      I can use Newton’s 2nd Law and apply SOHCAHTOA to decompose the forces vectors and/or acceleration vectors into convenient axes.
UFPM.B.2      I can draw force vector addition diagrams in two dimensions.

UFPM.C     I understand the meaning of Newton’s 3rd Law

UFPM.C.1      I can apply it to identify action-reaction force pairs in sets of FBDs
UFPM.C.2      I can apply it to identify force pairs which are internal to a system and which are external to a system
UFPM.C.3      I can use Newton’s 3rd Law perform calculations to solve problems.

UFPM.D     I can describe static and kinetic frictional forces and solve problems involving friction.

UFPM.D.1      I can differentiate between static and kinetic friction
UFPM.D.2      I can determine the direction of the friction force whether the friction is static or kinetic
UFPM.D.3      I can relate the friction and normal forces and I understand the purpose of the inequality in the statement f<=mu*N

Centrally Directed Force Model

CDFM.A     I can explain and calculate the centripetal acceleration of an object moving in a circle at a constant speed (UCM)

CDFM.A.1      I can determine the central direction and indicate it beside a FBD as the direction of the acceleration
CDFM.A.2      I can differentiate between the constant speed and the changing x- and y- components of velocity of an object in UCM
CDFM.A.3     I can solve problems with centripetal force and Newton’s 2nd Law.

CDFM.B     I can calculate the speed, period, frequency, and distance traveled for an object moving under the influence of a centrally directed force.

CDFM.B.1     I can calculate the speed, period, frequency, and distance traveled for an object moving under the influence of a centrally directed force.

CDFM.C         I can state and apply Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation

CDFM.C.1      I can interpret gravity as the force acting between any two objects with mass
CDFM.C.2      I can describe the gravitational mass of any object
CDFM.C.3      I can apply LUG to objects, such as planets, in circular orbit by using the assumption of circular orbits.

CDFM.D         I can describe the gravitational field both in space and near earth.

CDFM.D.1      I can compare and contrast “field” and “force”
CDFM.D.2      I can determine how the gravitation field will change when physical properties, such as volume and density, of the mass generating the field are altered or when the location of the field observation is changed

CDFM.E         I can derive the value of “little g,” the gravitational field near Earth

CDFM.E.1      I can relate G and g and determine the value of g for any object
CDFM.E.2      I can explain when using 9.8m/s2 is “good enough,” including a semi-quantitative analysis of the phrase “good enough.”

Extended Bodies and Torques

TOR.A           I can use analogies to kinematics to address angular kinematics problems

TOR.A.1         I can identify pivot points and the position of the center of mass of extended bodies
TOR.A.2         I can use angular analogies to linear kinematics to determine angular displacements, angular velocities, and angular accelerations.

TOR.B            I can calculate moments of inertia of an extended body and the torque on an extended body

TOR.B.1         I can calculate the location of the center of mass for a group of point masses
TOR.B.2         I can calculate the moment of inertia of a collection of point masses relative to a specified origin and can describe the effect of different given moments of inertia on different extended bodies.
TOR.B.3         I can determine the torque on any object relative to any pivot point by any forces acting at any specified location of an extended body

TOR.C            I can apply Newton’s Second Law for extended bodies

TOR.C.1         I can draw the location at which each force each on extended bodies and determine the lever arm vector for each force about a fixed pivot or X_cm
TOR.C.2         I can use Newton’s Second Law and its angular analog, including determining whether torque and angular acceleration result clockwise or counterclockwise rotation

Momentum Transferal Model

MTM.A     I can define and calculate the momentum of an object or a group of several objects, including direction.

MTM.A.1        I can identify objects as being within or not within a system
MTM.A.2        I can calculate the momentum (as a vector) of a single object
MTM.A.3        I can calculate the net momentum (including direction) of a collection of objects by calculating the momentum of each object and using vector addition for both one-dimensional case
MTM.A.4        I can do MTM.A1.3 for two-dimensional cases.

MTM.B     I can apply conservation of momentum to solve a variety of problems

MTM.B.1        I can determine whether a system receives a transfer of momentum or if momentum is conserved for the system
MTM.B.2        I can calculate the total momentum and determine the distribution of momentum among a group of isolated objects both before and after collisions, both graphically using IF graphs and algebraically.
MTM.B.3        I can apply conservation of momentum of the center of mass

MTM.C     I can solve problems involving impulse

MTM.C.1        I can identify forces acting through system boundaries
MTM.C.2        I can calculate the impulse delivered by an external force
MTM.C.3        I can find the change in velocity and final velocity of an object which receives an impulse using IFF charts and algebraically

MTM.D           I can solve problems involving angular momentum

MTM.D.1        I can calculate the angular momentum of a rotating body and the angular impulse
MTM.D.2        I can draw and utilize IF and IFF charts for rotating bodies

Energy Interchange Model

EIM.A     I can define and calculate the work done by a force and the power produced by it

EIM.A.1          I can determine whether a force does work or does not based on the directions of the displacement vector and the force vector
EIM.A.2     I can calculate linear kinetic energy, rotating kinetic energy of extended bodies, gravitational potential energy, spring potential energy and determine when any of these are zero or nonzero from a problem description
EIM.A.3          I can calculate the power produced from a force on a system.

EIM.B     I can apply the work-energy theorem

EIM.B.1          I can use histograms to indicate the storage modes of energy at different times or configurations of objects within a problem
EIM.B.2          I can identify situations in which work is added into or extracted from a system and determine the change in energy of the system

EIM.C     I can solve problems using the law of conservation of energy

EIM.C.1          I can apply the concept of conservation of energy to LOL charts
EIM.C.2          I can redefine systems to either exclude work flowing through the system boundary or to require work to enter/leave a system through the action of a particular force.
EIM.C.3          I can use the concept of internal energy to account for energy that appears to be lost, including microscopic physical descriptions of molecules to account for where the internal energy may physically exist.

EIM.D             I can combine concepts of the Energy Exchange Model and the Momentum Transferal Model

EIM.D.1          I can qualitatively represent the energy stored before and after any collision
EIM.D.2          I can determine whether of not a collision was elastic by analyzing information about the motion or about the energy
EIM.D.3          I can solve problem using these two conservation principles.


WAV.A          I can describe pulses and waves in terms of longitudinal or transverse and understand the relationship between wave characteristics and phenomena such as frequency, period, amplitude, wavelength, and velocity.

WAV.A.1       I can differentiate between transverse and longitudinal waves and I can describe orally and sketch both types of waves and identify the motion of the wave generator source and relate that to the type of wave.
WAV.A.2       I can identify wave characteristics on a graph and draw accurate graphs given wave characteristics.
WAV.A.3       I can explain the relationships that exist between wave characteristics

WAV.B     I can recognize interference and standing waves and explain nodes, antinodes, and resonance.

WAV.B.1        I can describe and identify constructive and destructive interference and superposition
WAV.B.2        I can describe wave reflection and detail the 180 degree phase shift
WAV.B.3        I can describe standing waves and explain their formation in musical instruments
WAV.B.4        I can explain the details behind harmonic for types of instruments

WAV.C           I can relate the wave speed to the medium through which the wave travels

WAV.C.1        I can relate the wave speed to the medium density and elasticity
WAV.C.2        I can relate the speed and frequency to the wavelength
WAV.C.3        I can determine whether the frequency or the wavelength will change when the speed is changed

WAV.D          I can explain beating and the Doppler Effect

WAV.D.1       I can explain beating
WAV.D.2       I can explain the Doppler Effect

Simple Harmonic Motion

SHM.A     I can explain and the restoring force for an object linearly oscillating (SHM)

SHM.A.1        I can relate the displacement, velocity, and acceleration of object in SHM
SHM.A.2        I can mathematically identify whether a force is a “restoring force” or not

SHM.B            I can determine the energy storage modes for an object in SHM

SHM.B.1         I can determine the locations of maximum kinetic and potential energy
SHM.B.2 I can apply conservation of energy to problems involving SHM.

SHM.C     I can calculate the speed, period, frequency, and distance traveled for an object moving under the influence of a centrally directed force, as well as the parameters which affect this motion.

SHM.C.1     I can calculate the speed, period, frequency, and distance traveled for an object moving under the influence of a centrally directed force.
SHM.C.2         I can determine what physical parameters will influence the period, and describe mathematically what that influence will be.

Circuits (CASTLE based)

CIR.A     I can define charge, current, and voltage

CIR.A.1          I can describe the similarities between charge and a fluid, as well as between charge motion and pressure differences
CIR.A.2          I can describe flow rate and color change in terms of correct vocabulary
CIR.A.3          I can use color coding to determine values for voltage changes between different points in a circuit
CIR.A.4          I can use arrow tails to determine current division in circuits

CIR.B     I can describe geometric parameters that influence the resistance of a conductor

CIR.B.1          I can explain the difference between insulators and conductors
CIR.B.2          I can use the analogy of air flow in straws to determine how the length and area influence the resistance of a conductor

CIR.C     I can calculate the equivalent resistance for resistors in series and parallel

CIR.C.1          I can identify whether a pair of resistors is in series or parallel
CIR.C.2          I can determine when a group of 3 or more resistors is neither in series nor parallel and use a two-resistor combination to simplify the multiple resistor circuit

CIR.D     I can utilize Ohm’s Law to solve for current, voltage, and resistance of any single resistor and can analyze circuits with one or more resistors using VIRP tables

CIR.D.1     I can utilize Ohm’s Law to solve for current, voltage, and resistance of any single resistor
CIR.D.2          I can analyze circuits with more than one resistor using VIRP tables

Standards Based Grading Schemes

I’ve spent more time than seems reasonable reading and reading and reading about SBG (specifically SBG by physics teachers).

Shouts out to Kelly O’Shea and Frank Nochese whose work I stole from liberally:

Kelly O’Shea (

Frank Noschese at Action-Reaction (

And for somebody gathering together great ideas, QuantumProgress’s Galas are wholly worth reading.

SBG Galas at QuantumProgress (

After absorbing all these fine bloggers had to offer and pouring over the links at their sites, I decided that I did not know whose SBG grading scheme (the process of taking standards and turning them into letter grades) I thought would work best.

But I’m an experimentalist and I have three classes. So I’m going to use a derivative of Kelly’s 5-6-9-10 method in one class and I’m going to use a derivative of Frank’s K.I.S.S.B.G in another, and a hybrid in the third.