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Semester is (almost) over & some thoughts for the next

Another semester is basically done at Wake Forest; all that is left is grading finals and posting grades; a solid bit of work, but not too bad. My 113 physics class -- aka introductory mechanics -- entered the final exam very strong; many more A's than normal, and from skimming over the exams, it looks like they finished strong.

Highlights from this semester in teaching: the voice threads seemed to be well-received, and definitely well-watched. They seem to have replaced the text for most students. I will still need to keep the text for problems and for those few students who prefer the textbook.  

The in-class quizzes are fairly well-established, but I keep having a  slump about half-way through the semester when class participation in them goes down. I might need to return to giving the students explicit credit for answering them, and track their responses.

We tried "writing-hand" problem videos for the first time on a youtube channel. Didn't advertise them that much as it was an experiment, and didn't think to explicit point out which ones related to which homework problems until ~1/2 way through the semester, but the students who used them did like them and requested more. 

Next semester, I am teaching Physics 262 and 770. Second year classical mechanics and graduate statistical mechanics. Interestingly enough, both classes have topics that I taught this semester, but in much greater depth and mathematical sophistication.

I plan two innovative things for these classes. First, for the second year, I will have a Friday  "lab"where they solve computational problems for both classes. It is hard to imagine doing mechanics or stat mech nowadays without computation, and this is their first exposure to it in our curriculum. I have had computation in the curriculum of these classes for ~5 years, maybe more, but we have only had the space for a computational "lab" since last year.  I am happy about this especially since 262 is as much about techniques as topics. It's the first class time where they use much of the mathematics they have been learning in parallel in their math classes in a physics class.

 On a newer note, I am also planning for more "writing hand" videos but for Phy 262 instead. These will be a bit more challenging because the problems are more difficult and more mathematical. Though on the other hand, the assortment of problems that we can show is much greater because we can except students to handle many more types of problems.