Teacher Spotlight: Gardner Friedlander

WebAssign was created in order to make the teacher’s job more effective and increase student learning. Learning how different instructors use WebAssign in their classroom, or teaching techniques they use in general, is a great way to enhance your own classroom experience.  I hope you will gain some valuable knowledge by reading our latest teacher spotlight.

Gardner Friedlander currently teaches AP Physics  and Honors Chem & Physics at University School of Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI.  His classes range from as small as 8 to as large as 20 and he is heavily involved in the AP Physics community.

How long have you been using WebAssign?

Since 2003, so about 8 years.

Every teacher uses different methods to increase student learning, what are some of your teaching practices?

My students get nightly practice homework in all classes.  I also, especially for labs, have group assignments with uploaded files as answers.  Each individual also does a pre-lab assignment, but the final report is (usually) a group one.  I am still working on having them check the accuracy and precision of both their measurements and their calculations.

What are some of your “best practice” methods when it comes to teaching with WebAssign?

My students generally get a 10% penalty for each submission, to encourage them to think before answering, while still allowing them the chance of correcting a “stupid mistake.”  I encourage them to email me if they are stuck.  Usually, a one-line hint is enough for them to have success.

I use automatic extensions to put the responsibility on the individual to acknowledge their lateness.  If they think their reason for the lateness is one that I’ll accept, I ask them to take the automatic extension (and the accompanying deduction), then do the assignment, THEN email me with their reason for deserving a rebate of the penalty.  Most of the time they accept the deduction, unlike the whining I get when they are requesting manual extensions.

I have written (transcribed into WebAssign) almost all of the questions we have used in our honors chem-physics class.  As we use our self-written text, using WebAssign has made the annual revisions a breeze.  As well, students have access to the manual and PowerPoints that we have uploaded, so dealing with an absent student is almost taken care of as a matter of course.

Any other advice for fellow teachers?

Use the help features, including the “Customer Support” and “Contact Us” links!!  The customer service at WebAssign is excellent!

We thank Mr. Friedlander for sharing his experience with us and we would love to hear how WebAssign is working for you! Send us an email today

Preparing for a New Term: Copying Assignments From One Class to Another

At the start of a new term, instructors often want to copy some or all of their assignments from one class to another. Using WebAssign, this is called propagating assignments and is a great way to save some time when setting up for a new classes. The assignments you choose from your original class are scheduled in your new class; all you need to do is select the new available and due dates.

1. On the ClassView page, find the class that contains the assignments you want to reschedule. (Note: If the class was from a previous term, remember to view Past classes). Click Propagate.

2. The propagate page is displayed, showing a list of all of the assignments in the class. On the left, select the assignments you want to reschedule to your current classes. You can also click Select All to select all of the assignments at once.  Then on the right click the course or courses you want to copy assignments to.

3. Choose one of the below options, and click Choose Dates. We recommend that you create a new copy of the original assignment.  If you are propagating to sections with different instructors, create a new copy for each instructor. If you are propagating to your own classes, create one new copy of the assignment. This ensures that if you need to change the assignment, it does not unintentionally affect other classes.

4. Note that the First and Last Visible dates will default to the new course start and end dates. Enter the new due dates and click Save.

5. An “Assignments Successfully Propagated” message will display, along with a ClassView button you can click to go to your ClassView page to see your original assignments in your new class!

As always if you have any questions or need additional help please contact our support team.

Calculus Carol: L’Hopital’s Rule

From the blog Teaching & Learning Mathematics with Technology, here is a great Calculus Carol sung to the tune of Sleigh Ride.  Have your students put together something like this in any of your classes?  Share them with us today!

Make Your Voice Heard Contest: Third Update!

Tomorrow, December 15th, is your last chance to send us your feature suggestion for our UserVoice contest!  So far we have received over 65 great ideas and can’t wait to see which five rise to the top.  Please take a moment today to check out which features have been suggested and vote for your favorite.  This is your chance to speak directly to the developers at WebAssign.

We love it when WebAssign is already capable of feature suggestions that you have indicated will make  teaching more effective for you.  The following suggestion can be accomplished using Short-answer or Essay questions.

“I want WebAssign to…allow for free response questions that the students can submit online and the teacher can grade based on a point system.”

Short-answer and essay questions are free response questions that allow your students to demonstrate their knowledge by providing an extended textual answer in their own words. There is no qualitative difference between the two kinds of questions; whether you describe the question as short-answer or essay generally is a reflection of the length of the expected response.  To learn how to create a short-answer or essay question, please visit our step by step instructions in the instructor’s manual. 

Short-answer and essay questions are not automatically graded by WebAssign; they must be manually graded. By default, students receive full credit when they submit answers, but a grading rubric can be included in the question and the correct answer shown in the answer key.  Instructors can change students’ points when grading the answers. To learn more about grading, check out our instructions here.

Assigning Questions from an Assignment ID

We have received several inquiries on how to assign our recent Holiday Questions in your classroom, which are available using an assignment ID. The instructions below can be applied to any questions you wish to use that are associated with an assignment ID.

The simplest way to assign the holiday questions is to schedule assignment 2171688 to your class.
  1. Click Search in the toolbar.
  2. Type 2171688 in the search box, select Assignment, and click Go.
  3. The assignment opens in the Assignment Editor.
  4. From the Assignment Editor, you can either schedule the assignment to your class or (if you want to make changes) duplicate the assignment, change your duplicated assignment, and schedule that to your class.
Additionally,  if you wish to add only 1 or 2 of these questions to a previously existing assignment simply open up that assignment and add the appropriate question ID in the question browser.  The question IDs can be found next to each question from Assignment 2171688 or appear as follows:
HolidayCard1 Math.001.
HolidayCard1 Chemistry.001.
HolidayCard1 Physics.001.
Don’t forget to save your assignment after adding the new questions!

Chemistry Carols: Iron the Red Atom Molecule

Holiday songs have been playing on the radio for several weeks now, but have you heard this chemistry carol, sung to the tune of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer?

Iron the Red Atom Molecule

There was Cobalt and Argon and Carbon and Fluorine
Silver and Boron and Neon and Bromine
But do you recall
the most famous element of all?

Iron the red atom molecules
had a very shiny orbital
And if you ever saw him
You’d enjoy his magnetic glow
All of the other molecules
used to laugh and call him Ferrum
They never let poor Iron
join in any reaction games.

Then one inert Chemistry eve
Santa came to say:
Iron with your orbital so bright
won’t you catalyze the reaction tonight?
Then how the atoms reacted
and combined in twos and threes
Iron the red atom molecule
you’ll go down in Chemistry!

Use WebAssign to spread some holiday cheer!

To celebrate the season, the WebAssign elves have created these holiday-inspired questions!

Check out the live versions with the answer key here!  Or you can find all of the questions in an assignment with the Assignment ID 2171688, ready to schedule in your class today.

Have you created any  seasonal WebAssign questions? If so, we would love to see them; send them in today!