Online reading assignment: flipped classroom, motions and cycles (NC campus)

Astronomy 210, fall semester 2018
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

Students have a weekly online reading assignment (hosted by SurveyMonkey.com), where they answer questions based on reading their textbook, material covered in previous lectures, opinion questions, and/or asking (anonymous) questions or making (anonymous) comments. Full credit is given for completing the online reading assignment before next week's lecture, regardless if whether their answers are correct/incorrect. Selected results/questions/comments are addressed by the instructor at the start of the following lecture.

The following questions were asked on reading textbook chapters and previewing presentations on Earth's rotation/precession/revolution/tilt, the moon's motions and cycles, and watching two video presentations on the flipped class: "What Is the Flipped Class?" and "How the Flipped Classroom Works."

Selected/edited responses are given below.

Describe something you found interesting from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally interesting for you.
"I've always thought of astronomy as the study of the stars and planets, I never really put thought into how it's also connected to our seasons throughout the year. For example, I thought that the winter was because wherever we were we moved away from the sun and summer we were closer. From what I understood this isn't true. The seasons happen because of the amount of solar energy that both of earth's hemispheres are receiving at the time."

"It was interesting learning more than I have about Earth's rotation and how the sun and the moon's gravity work together on precessing Earth's axis."

"I thought it was interesting how depending on your latitude that varies on what you see, to me it seemed like we all just see the same thing when we look up into the sky. Now I know that we see different things based on our latitude for example how Australians never see the Big Dipper but North Americans do."

"I thought the section on the solstices and equinoxes were really interesting. Probably because the autumnal equinox lands on my birthday, but I also didn't realize that there were two days in the year with equal time in night and day. I knew that days in summer were longer than days in Winter, but it's still neat knowing that one day is longer than the rest and one shortest."

"One of the things that i found to be interesting was the 'sun-sign' astrology. I did not know that the sun actually lines up with the different zodiac constellations."

"Taking into consideration the length of such cycles, such as the Earth precession being over 26,000 years, it is quite remarkable and commendable how modern scientists and historians can unearth such facts especially since most humans today can barely live a mere century. I'd like to know more about how such facts were even calculated!"

Describe something you found confusing from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally confusing for you.
"The starwheel--I tried going outside and using it with my husband and he's taken this class before, so he understood how to look for constellations but I was pretty lost. I think this is something that will take me a lot of practice to understand."

"I found it a little confusing how the book stated that in the daytime there are still stars in the sky but sunlight fills the atmosphere with scattered light. It is still quite a bit confusing to understand how we can not see them during the day."

"Phases of the moon. I didn't know that there were so many or that is what shaped the calendar that we use now. The concept of waning and waxing I believe is what's going to throw me off the most."

"I've been having issues understanding how to use the starwheel."

"Pole wandering."

"Being able to condense all of this information to that of which I can memorize for future tests, without the benefit of my notes. I suppose practice makes perfect..."

"Synchronizing, it's a word I have never heard of before that I had to look it up."

"Some of the terminology used got a little confusing at points. It was a little hard to understand some points but nothing to crazy. so far."

"The different phases of the moon to be confusing. I am just not used to the terms 'waxing' or 'waning,' but rather the typical terms such as 'full, half, new.'"

The constellation Virgo is just above the east horizon, as seen by an observer at 11 PM in San Luis Obispo, CA. What date is this? (Ignore daylight saving time.)
February 20.  ******* [7]
April 25.  * [1]
July 4.  [0]
August 20.  [0]
(Unsure/guessing/lost/help!)  ****** [6]

Match these cycles with their approximate duration.
(Only correct responses shown.)
Earth's rotation: 24 hours [100%]
Earth's revolution: one year [79%]
Earth's precession: 26,000 years [100%]
The moon's revolution: one month [93%]
I believe astrology is able to make accurate predictions about my future. (This is just an opinion question, there are no right answers.)
Strongly disagree.  [0]
Disagree.  [0]
Neutral.  ********* [9]
Agree.  **** [4]
Strongly agree.  * [1]

Briefly explain your answer regarding your belief/disbelief in astrology. (This is just an opinion question, there are no right answers.)
"I believe in astronomy, when I was little I used to say I wanted to be an astronomer because it was fascinating to me. Then I grew up an my interests changed, but I used to sit outside with my dad in the summer nights and I had a huge telescope. I usually didn't know what I was looking at but he would try to explain it and even though I didn't understand it I was fascinated by it. I think it's so beautiful and there's a lot we can appreciate and learn from it."

"I don't know enough about it to agree/disagree with it, seems cool though."

"I am a bit neutral about astrology, I just feel as if I don't know enough about it to be able to say if I believe in it to not, but hopefully after this class i will be able to determine on which side I'm on."

"I believe that as a people we make our own futures based on our choices, but also that we can recall on those choices that we have made in the past to shape our future. But maybe by looking at the stars it will remind of those choices and help us along the way."

"I agree that astrology is able to make accurate predictions about zodiac signs based on astronomy. I am unsure about how well astrology can predict my future because I have not learned about what that entails yet."

"I agreed with the statement solely because when horoscopes are given they tend to be pretty accurate. As for anything else goes, I'm not sure."

"I think it's really interesting and I like the idea of being able to predict of anything coming your way. I can't say that what I've read in those horoscope sites have always been accurate, but it's sort of entertaining to read them anyway."

"I had no knowledge of astrology until I got older and i've never been fully engaged in my astrological sign."

"I believe that people have their own individuality and that the stars do not have to do anything with it, but when I read the description of each sign I find that mine correlates with the description so I am sort of in the middle."

"I believe that it is only God who can decide the future; it is not human science or pseudoscience that can give us complete accuracy or even correct foretelling of the future. I do not judge or criticize other people's differing perspectives or opinions concerning this matter, I respect their views fully. "

"I would say no, but I hear the phrase, 'our future is written in the stars.'"

"I don't think anything can truly predict the future."

"I have always questioned life. Why are we here? How did we get here? What really is space and why do these planets exist? Is what we think we know really the truth? I have so many questions! So when it comes to astrology, I am neutral. Maybe it does make accurate predications, maybe it doesn't. I'm not one to shoot it down, but I'm not one to hype it up either!"

Place these moon phases in chronological order in their cycle (starting with new moon).
(Only correct responses shown, in unscrambled order.)
New moon: first [71%]
Waxing crescent: second [64%]
First quarter: third [86%]
Waxing gibbous: fourth [64%]
Full moon: fifth [71%]
Waning gibbous: sixth [57%]
Third quarter: seventh [86%]
Waning crescent: eighth [57%]

Explain what is different about homework in a flipped class.
"Homework in a flipped class should be much easier because the student is expected to have already gone over the material before attending the class rather than during or after and this way you can ask any questions before heading to do the homework. This sounds like it would be a more successful approach in a class like this because there could be a lot of questions and it would make homework less time consuming."

"It's done online on your own time before the start of class each week."

"Flipped class you get to preview the material before it is actually showed in the class. It helps being able to process the material before it is showed to the class at a speed that may be hard to keep up with."

"Homework for a conventional class is done after you get out of class, and is on what you just learned. Homework for a flipped class is reading new material for the next class in order to prepare you for your next lecture."

"Homework in a flipped class includes a presentation, that way when the students are with the teacher in the classroom lots of time can be spent clarifying and answering questions. In a conventional class, students are given material and then a lecture that overlaps with the material and less time is spent clarifying."

"I think the biggest difference for me is that you get a preview of the lectures. This way, you can be more prepared, have a better understanding of what to expect (therefore not getting lost in what is discussed), and you can ask questions on what you know was not discussed compared to your homework. I also like that you get these little quizzes every class so you don't fall big time in later class. The steps in this kind of class may look overwhelming, but it is actually extremely helpful."

"A flipped classroom allows students to learn and study the material at their own pace. In a conventional class, students must learn and absorb information at the teacher's pace. Teachers that used a flipped classroom understand that not all students learn at the same pace."

Describe where/when most student learning occurs in a flipped class.
"In a flipped class most of the learning is done hands on in the classroom because the instructor is more involved rather than reading a lecture the whole class, there is more interaction and more room for questions, clarification and testing theories."

"On your own time, reading and studying at home."

"In a flipped class most of the learning will be done ahead of the face-to-face time and during the face to face more in dept clarification will be made on the struggling concepts."

"In a conventional class the most student learning is in class, the day of. In a flipped class the most student learning is done before you go to class, as to better prepare you."

"In a flipped class a student learns independently at home and then apply their knowledge in the class where they are able to ask questions to the instructor."

"Most student learning in a flipped class should occur online. Teachers that provide online access to material that is being covered in class, give their students the opportunity to go over the information multiple times until they fully understand it, or understand it enough to ask proper questions during their next lecture."

Pick one piece of student advice from the previous semester, and discuss why you agree (or disagree) with it.
"'Don't forget that the quizzes are due before each class at midnight! And if you're taking astronomy lab, too, it's easy to forget about those assignments as well.' I agree with this because I am taking both classes and found out that this assignment is due before 12 the next day."

"'Don't procrastinate, go to class, and do the readings! They help immensely with following along in class.' It seems that the online reading assignments are super important and to not procrastinate as well. I'm glad I saw this on here because I can be a bit of a procrastinator ans this semester more than any other semester I need to be on top of each assignment."

"'In order to succeed in this class I urge everyone to look at the quiz study guides and make sure to do the online reading assignments.' I believe that study guides do make a difference in our grade and can help us be prepared more for our quizzes and exams."

"'Do the online reading assignments. Read the textbook. Study, study, study.' I definitely agree with them. Like most classes, doing all assignments, reading, and studying are the basics, but they are also the most important. I can tell that my success in this class will determined on my efforts and taking advantage of the fact that P-dog provides many useful and important resources!"

Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment. Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"What is your favorite section to teach about astronomy? Do you believe that astronomy has some sort of power over our future?"

"Will there be any physics in the future? A lot or none?" (My horoscope says that there will be some physics later this semester.)

"I'm excited to further my knowledge of astronomy and this class seems perfect for that! My high school teacher recommended this class to me."

"So far from the first class and set of reading assignments I have been really intrigued by this course and want to continue to expand my knowledge of the space above and beyond us.

"Are we supposed to be taking notes from the book into a notebook? Or is reading it and watching the presentations alright? Do you recommend that we have a notebook in class to take notes throughout lecture? Or do you think the online presentations can be used as notes?" (Whichever works for you--whether there should be more notes/practice from the textbook or from the presentations will depend on the material and your style of learning.)

"Why are we able to see the moon during the day but only on certain ones?" (We'll cover this in lecture today!)

"In the simulation of 'pole wandering' it is mentioned that there will more typically be no given 'north star.' So does this mean that the north star changes?" (Where Earth's axis points to in space changes over time. Because of the spacing between bright stars in our night sky, then it is a happy accident that we happen to even have a north star right now.)

""Will you lead us? ARE WE ALL GOING TO SURVIVE? I'm known to be an anxious kind of person, so I'm probably overreacting, but you seem like a good teacher, so I trust we can ALL get through this semester. Bear with us. Here we go." (COME WITH ME IF YOU WANT TO LIVE.)

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