Physics Interactives with Task Tracker

Task Tracker is a site-wide tool used to store and retrieve the progress of students on various tasks found on our website. We initially introduced Task Tracker during the pandemic as a tool to track student progress on tasks found in our Concept Builder section. We expanded its use the following year by tracking student progress on Minds On Physics missions. We have plans to introduce two new Task Tracker implementations during the 2022-23 school year - the Calculator Pad and the Physics Interactives.
Our Physics Interactives section includes a variety of activity types - simulations, game-like challenges, and skill-building activities. Simulations are the most common type of activity. For most of these simulations, we provide a classroom-ready exercise that provides guidance to students as they navigate the simulation. Many teachers who use the exercise collect an electronic or paper version of student's completed work. At times, this work is graded. For most of our simulations, there is nothing that can be tracked that would provide a measure of student understanding or progress. For this reason, we are building Concept Checkers as a tool to be paired with our simulations. A Concept Checker is a questioning module that targets student understanding of the simulation. The questions are rather general in nature and have been inspired by the classroom-ready exercises that we make available. Task Tracker is used to store and track student performance on the Concept Checker. Since the Concept Checker was designed from both the simulation and the classroom-ready exercise, we believe that use of all three (simulation, exercise, and Concept Checker) within a lesson plan will provide the best results. Visit Concept Checkers

Skill-Building activities are also quite common in our Physics Interactives section. Name That Motion, Graph That Motion, Free-Body Diagrams, and Chart That Motion are among the most popular of these types of activities. Our approach to tracking student progress on skill-building activities will be to (wherever possible) include our Task Tracker code directly into these interactives. Instead of having a separate, follow-up Concept Checker to check on understanding, the Interactive will be coded to monitor understanding and save the progress in our database. That progress is viewable by teachers, allowing them to view the performance of both individual students and whole classes. If a student does not finish the activity during class, their progress can be retrieved and they can resume where they left off outside of class.

Game-like challenges is the third type of activity. Race Track, Electric Field Hockey, and Go for the Gold are the most popular of these types of activities. They present a different level of challenge for us in terms of tracking progress in a manner that is indicative of understanding and acquired skill. Our approach to implementing Task Tracker with these types of activities will vary on a per-activity basis.

In the end, our goal is to improve the value of our Interactives by providing students, teachers, and classrooms a means of checking, tracking, and storing data on progress and understanding of students. Over time, nearly all of our Interactives will implement Task Tracker in some manner.

Is This Free? What If I Don't Have an Account?

The Physics Classroom is a free website. And the Physics Interactives is a free tool on the free website. That will not change. You will still be able to use The Physics Interactives section for free. And as we add Concept Checkers, you can use them free of charge as well. So the free stuff will remain free stuff and there will be even more free stuff (Concept Checkers) as the result of this project. While the free version of Concept Checkers and the Interactives will provide on-screen scoring and validation of completion, it won't save student progress. Like it works now, if a student closes their browser in the middle of a skill-building activity, student progress will be lost ... unless they have a Task Tracker account. The Physics Interactives and its companion tool - Concept Checkers - are free and useable but Task Tracker accounts are not free. Task Tracker accounts can be purchased at a low cost by teachers and schools on behalf of their students. 


Why Should a School Purchase Task Tracker if I Can Get This for Free?

That's a fair question and one that we encourage teachers and schools to think about. We want to emphasize that the Interactives and Concept Checkers are great tools without an account and we encourage those who don't subscribe to Task Tracker to take advantage of the free offering. So why Task Tracker? There are a number of features that a teacher with a Task Tracker account can take advantage of. First, Task Tracker has a built-in assignment board that will display student's assignments, due dates, current progress, and scoring rules. Students in Task Tracker classes can log in, view their assignments and due dates, and click a link to begin completing their work. Second, teachers with Task Tracker accounts can easily preview the task. They can quickly tap their way through every question in a Skill-Building Interactive or a Concept Checker and see the questions and their organization into Question Groups. Third, as a teacher is previewing a task, they might note a Question Group that they particularly do not like. That Question Group can be discarded from the task and their students will not have to answer it. Fourth, a teacher with a Task Tracker account can set scoring rules for every assignment, including partial credit scoring rules. Fifth, students who do not finish a Skill-Building or a Concept Checker task in class have their work saved. That progress can be retrieved and the student can continue where they left off. That is not possible in the free version. Finally, teachers can view their students' progress on assigned tasks. They can see students' scores, the Question Groups that were completed and not completed, and times of completion. We think the free version is pretty cool. But the reason a teacher would want a Task Tracker account has to do with awesome!

How Do I Purchase a Task Tracker Account?

Task Tracker accounts can be purchased at our Store. We recommend waiting at least until August 1, 2022 when the next subscription season begins. You will be purchasing Task Tracker "seats" for your students. It takes one seat for any Task Tracker feature that you wish to use. We usually have a special promotion. For instance, in the Fall of 2021, we had a BOGO-50 special (Buy one and get one at 50% off). We will have a different promotion this coming Fall that will be even better. Check back in July to view the details.


When Will This Be Ready? How Many Concept Checkers and Interactives Will You Have?

We are working feverishly to put this together. A good portion of it should be available in August. Work will continue throughout the school year. Mechanics will be done first. As of this writing (mid-April), we have 34 Concept Checkers. And we have just successfully implemented our code into a Physics Interactive skill building activity. (See Name That Motion.) We will continue to work and develop through the remainder of the Spring and all Summer. We encourage teachers to keep abreast of development on our site using the What's New at The Physcis Classroom? page. Do keep in mind: this isn't our only project. We are also working on a Calculator Pad revision. So hang tight with us; more information will be posted during the summer months.



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