18 July 2014

Open Lab 2014 -- last call

Folks, the 2014 Open Lab begins a week from Sunday.  On July 27, at least ten physics teachers will descend upon Woodberry Forest School to discuss whatever is on your mind.  I've got plans to show and develop some in-class lab exercises, work with my new Vernier and Pasco rotational equipment, take an after-lunch trip to the hardware store to see if we can build something cheap and useful... mainly I'm looking forward to hanging out with interesting physics teachers in my classroom and around town.

If you're planning on coming, I need to know right away -- I'm leaving town for an AP Institute shortly, so I'm making nearly-final preparations.  I won't turn you away even if you show up last minute, of course.  However, you might not have a seat at our Sunday night dinner, a nametag, or a seat on the minibus.

Remember, the Open Lab itself is free; but you need to arrange your lodging (I recommend the Holiday Inn Express in Orange), and you need to be prepared to pay for a couple of meals while you're here.  We start officially at 4:00* on Sunday, and we're done officially at noon on Tuesday.  I can also be available a few hours before and after these official times.  

* 4:00 P.M, not A.M..  I'm crazy and dedicated, but not THAT crazy and dedicated.

If you can't make it in 2014, I'll likely run something similar again in 2015 if things go well this year and if there's interest.  Just let me know...

GCJ

14 July 2014

Direct Measurement Videos

Youtube has been a staple of the physics classroom for a while now.  There's no shortage of interesting videos to analyze, some of which are specifically created for science purposes.  My favorite of the produced-for-science infotainment genre is probably the Smarter Every Day series.  Take a look at the episode about how cats land on their feet.  It's got amazing footage, an entertaining host, high quality production, solid physics, and CATS!  I wouldn't use this video as a teaching tool, though.  My in-class demonstrations and labs are never designed purely as a show.  Everything I set up in class has a quantitative predictive element.  My students will certainly enjoy Smarter Every Day, but as a supplementary extra-fun part of learning physics, not as something integral to the course.

So can a video series possibly be integral to an introductory physics course?  Yes.

Take a look at Direct Measurement Videos, a series produced by Peter Bohacek, Matthew Vonk and several other Wisconsin physics teachers.*  Each video in their library shows live footage of an experiment.  Post-production work provides enough information to make, well, direct measurements.  For example, the frame number and frame rate are displayed prominently.  Where appropriate, a length scale is superimposed on the action.  Multiple camera angles are shown when useful.  

* The full credits on the site list Peter Bohacek, Matthew Vonk, Ellen Iverson, and Karin Kirk.  I mention Matthew in particular because he was my table leader at the AP Physics reading.  Most of the videos seem to be credited to Peter.

While the production quality is solid, Direct Measurement Videos are emphatically NOT edited for infotainment purposes.  You won't see a narrator.  Many of the clips would seem humdrum to the non-physicist: a car braking on an ice rink, a marble colliding with a wooden block, a doll rotating on a turntable.  The excitement of these clips is that they bring to life the end-of-chapter problems that we've been assigning for decades.  

Aside:  I got myself in trouble at a consultant meeting when I cheeked a non-physics-teacher presenter.  His brief speech was full of enthusiasm but empty of substance -- I wanted to get back to talking physics teaching.  The guy kept going on about how we as consultants should emphasize real-life physics.  So I raised my hand and asked him, "Could you please give us an example of physics that is NOT 'real-life' physics?"  The reaction was as if I had cited Adam Smith at a 1980 Moscow State University economics department meeting.

Of course all physics is "real-life."  The central tenet of my own teaching has been to highlight the experimental nature of physics problem solving, to the extent that I refer not as much to the "answer" to a problem as to the "prediction" made by the problem.  I set up quantitative demonstrations that have little wow-factor, but which verify the prediction made by in-class example problems or homework problems.  

Direct Measurement Videos have taken that philosophy to a whole new level.  In class, I'm limited to the equipment I own, the space in my classroom, and the tools (such as Vernier's live computer data collection) that allow for immediate analysis.  DMVs have no such limitation.  They can show a roller coaster at 200 frames per second -- I have no nearby roller coaster.  They can show the slow-motion, frame-by-frame results of a dart sticking to a cart -- while I can do that experiment, I analyze with Vernier motion sensors only, and my students can't repeatedly rewind the live action to see the moments before and after collision.

My intention is to use a Direct Measurement Video about once a week as a homework problem in a different sort of "flipped class."  Traditionally I've assigned a textbook-style problem for homework, and then we've set up the physical situation in class.  Now, though, I can have the students work through a textbook-style problem in class to make a prediction, then assign the data analysis off of the video as homework.  Or, rather than assign a problem which gives all relevant input data, I can link a video and say "determine the coefficient of friction between the doll and the surface."  The students have to do more than just make a calculation; they have to figure out what data must be acquired to make that calculation, and then they have to figure out how to acquire said data from the video.  We can get away from the idea of physics problem solving as putting given numbers together in the right equations; we can get away from the idea of laboratory as a separate, distinct, disconnected portion of a physics class, instead integrating predictive and experimental physics on an everyday basis.  Wow.  Thanks, Peter, Matthew, et al.


08 July 2014

5 Steps AP Physics 1 is out...

The 5 Steps to a 5: AP Physics 1 book is out.  You can buy here via amazon.  I've completely rewritten the text from previous Physics B version because, well, the AP Physics 1 exam is completely different.  Last week in Barnes and Noble, I couldn't find any other prep books for the new exam.  And I don't trust the competing companies' books, anyway.*

* I suspect they're all superior to Barry Panas's "1 Step to a 1," which offers a money-back guarantee.

I really like the approach to content in this year's book.  Instead of textbook-style exposition, example problems, and practice problems, each of the content chapters intertwines exposition and examples.  In the spirit of the new exams, the "examples" don't pose a particular problem to solve -- getting hung up on the exact correct answer rather than the process and explanation will be a particularly harmful bugaboo on this new style of exam.  Rather, the examples pose situations which are fertile ground for all sorts of kinds of problems.  Then, I suggest what kinds of questions could be spawned from each situation, and I show how to answer each of these questions.

The book includes a variety of practice questions in each content chapter, and a complete practice exam written directly to the AP Physics 1 learning objectives and science practices.  And already I've found the first major error... that's inevitable, of course, in a first edition.  Even though I worked through everything multiple times, the first time I read the published version I found the stupidicism.  In the forces chapter, I ask a question about a block pulled along the ground by a string angled up 30 degrees above the horizontal.  Great... except that in the solution I state that the normal force on the block is equal to its weight.  Duh.  Since the string force has an upward vertical component, the normal force on the block must be LESS than the block's weight.  Grrr.  I'll have to rewrite that one for the second edition.

Any other comments, ideas, complaints, or suggestions can go in the comments, or can be sent to me via email.  Enjoy the book 

06 July 2014

Physics 2 Argument: What happens to the water level? Answer in the comments.


In the picture you see a 200 g mass floating inside a very light cup.  The water is inside a large beaker.  The water level is marked on the side of the beaker.


I'm going to remove the 200 g mass from the cup and place it back in the water on the bottom of the beaker.  How does the new water level compare to the marked level?  Give your reasoning in the comments.

In the most recent post, I explained about arguments and the new AP Physics 1 and 2 courses.  We absolutely must get our students discussing physics, arguing about physics, making errors and catching errors.  I personally think in terms of "physics fights", the ritual debates over research-style problems that underlie the US Invitational Young Physicists Tournament.  

In order to argue about physics, first we've gotta have something specific to argue about.  We need problems that are simple enough to be accessible to first-year physics students, problems that are within the scope of AP Physics 1 and 2; but also, these problems must be complex enough to, well, produce reasonable and legitimate disagreement about physics. Arguments can't be artificial.  If you present a ridiculously bogus line of reasoning to your class, they not only won't engage, they won't even buy in to the necessary process of discussion.  

My primary piece of advice is to be flexible in your teaching.  When a problem organically provokes a good discussion, go with it!  Engage that authentic argument until it's resolved, even if you hadn't anticipated it.  Similarly, if a problem that you expected to be tough gets the whole class nodding their heads in agreement, just move on.

Last week at my Mahopac, NY institute, the problem above provoked an unplanned but long and deep discussion.  I heard four different lines of reasoning from the participating physics teachers.  Five minutes of talking amongst themselves failed to resolve anything.  So we kept talking.  It was tough for some of the teachers to articulate their reasoning; others articulated clearly, but didn't convince their colleagues.  I'm an old debate coach... I noticed how a bunch of teachers knew that an argument was incorrect, but couldn't address precisely why it was incorrect; all they could do was reiterate their own argument.  (In debate we call that a failure to "clash.")

Of course, what I love about physics over debate is that once the discussion petered out, we just did the experiment.  Nature is the ultimate judge, not nine political appointees.

So what's your answer?  Please post a comment with your line of reasoning.  Don't be afraid to be wrong -- all Jacobs Physics readers are teammates, we all love each other like brothers and sisters.  The only justification I don't want -- for now -- is "I did the experiment, and this is what happened."  Comments are moderated so we don't get linkspam, so it'll take a few hours for me to post them.  

GCJ

03 July 2014

Arguments must be part of your AP Physics 1 curriculum

The Curriculum Framework for the new AP Physics 1 and 2 courses describes a multitude of "science practices" that will be tested across all topics on the exam.  Several of these practices call for students to discuss and argue about physics principles.  Quoting from the Framework, students are expected to, among many other things:

* refine representations and models
* pose, refine, and evaluate scientific questions
* evaluate data, both the source of data and the evidence provided by data
* evaluate alternative explanations for phenomena, and articulate the reasons explanations are refined or replaced

That's awful highfalutin' language there.  What does that mean about the questions on the actual AP exam?  Well, check out free response question 3 on the released example physics 1 exam.  It presents two different arguments -- each about three sentences long -- about whether bulbs in series or in parallel will be brighter.  The question then asks for an evaluation of the correct and incorrect portions of each argument, followed by a determination of which set of equations supports each side of the argument.  When physics teachers first encounter this question many say, holy smokes this is tough, how am I going to get my students prepared to answer questions like this?

Have them create, support, reject, and engage with arguments in class, both with you and with their classmates.  They must have experience in stating dispassionately and clearly what parts of a statement are correct, and what parts are fallacious, with clear justification that doesn't merely repeat the arguments.

How do you do that?  Practice.  Start by having students grade each others' problems to a rubric -- and not just problems that call for straightforward calculation.  Make them grade verbal justifications.

A very simple rubric for grading a verbal justification might award one point for clearly stating a relevant fact or a relevant equation; one point for connecting the fact or equation to the answer; and one more point for the answer itself.  Focus your energy in class on helping the class understand what it means to logically connect a fact or equation to an answer.  "Because of ohm's law" doesn't say anything, but "because in ohm's law with constant voltage, current and resistance vary inversely" does explain why a larger resistor might take less current.  

Then create situations in which students engage in discussion with each other.  Many of these discussions happen naturally when you assign deep problems and encourage students to work together.  On homework, I consider it my role not to tutor students, but to referee their disagreements when they have differing views on a problem's solution.  When someone comes to me for help, I ask to see what he's written, and I ask with whom he's discussed his issues.  The expectation, as stated to the class from day 1, is that students go to each other first for help before they talk to me.  Not because I'm cruel or lazy, but because they must develop the skills of posing, refining, and evaluating scientific claims.  

Finally, ask students to state their competing claims and debate publicly with classmates.  The debate team continually engages in head-to-head evaluation of contentions; similarly, allow class members to present their ideas to the class for evaluation.  As you referee a public debate, you have to be very careful to eliminate posturing.  While we want to find the right answer, the goal is the search for the truth -- the goal is NOT to thump chests about who was right and who was wrong.  Overly enthusiastic displays of emotion should not be allowed, whether that emotion is positive or negative.  That is, the student who gets angry at himself or who ribs a classmate for a wrong answer must be chided; but so must the student who pumps his fist and gives a Marv Albert "Yes!" when he's right.  Physics is complex enough that over the course of the year virtually everyone will be right sometimes and wrong sometimes.  When you're teaching scientific argumentation, make sure that who is right and who is wrong becomes irrelevant.  What matters is that everyone can articulate which were right and which were wrong, and why.

28 June 2014

Everything's a test -- there's no such thing as a "formative" or "summative" assessment

I don't think I had even heard the terms "formative assessment" and "summative assessment" until a year or two ago in connection with the new AP Physics 1 and 2 courses.*  If you're not familiar with them, the briefest definition I've discovered describes a summative assessment as an assessment of learning, while a formative assessment is an assessment for learning.   While I understand the meaning of the terms and their use in discussing how physics is taught, I have the deep-down suspicion that I'm hearing euphemisms reflecting some teachers' fundamental discomfort with the idea of a test.

* course materials written by education professors for education professors

Everything we do in our class is simultaneously a test and a learning opportunity.  The students -- and their teachers -- must get comfortable with the dual purpose of each activity.  In this sense, an academic class is no different from an athletic or artistic endeavor.  Basketball players are absolutely judged by the coach on their performance in practice and in games; nevertheless, unless the player's name is Iverson, both the game and practice provide opportunities for growth.  In the theatre, actors are judged by their peers and by the director in every rehearsal as well as in every performance; yet the best actors learn from both their successes and failures.

Each day, my students take a quiz and turn in a homework problem.  One might call these "formative assessments" because they are primarily for practice -- the students get constructive feedback about their knowledge and performance.  But I'm also acquiring information about my students' progress.  I need to know what they can do, both with collaboration and individually.  Both quizzes and homework count in my gradebook; the quizzes in particular often ask straight-up fact recall questions.  Thus, one would have to categorize each as "summative assessments" as well.  

Of course I give tests. I certainly call each one a "test," or even an "exam."  Tests are half of the term grade, with daily work counting the other half.  These two elements (75%) are combined with the trimester exam (25%) to get the overall trimester grade.  So my tests and exams are "summative assessments," right?  Wrong.  

Lyle Roelofs, the best college professor ever, explained that a test represents the only time when you can be positive that you have your students' full attention.  So, he suggested, make the students engage with the test questions that they get wrong in order to earn points back.  My students do test corrections, earning back half credit for anything they originally missed but then explain properly on the correction.  I've had colleagues complain that high-stakes testing is cruel and useless, that some exams should be replaced by more learning time.  My riposte: exam time is learning time.  It's the best learning time.  An exam used properly is the very definition of a "formative assessment."

To satisfy the sticklers among you, okay, each of my classes takes ONE "summative assessment" each year.  It's generally called the "AP Physics 1 Exam," or the "Conceptual Physics Final Exam."  These serious, high-stakes end-of-course exams are still tremendously useful teaching tools because they cause students to focus on a cumulative review that, without the high-stakes exam, would fall on deaf ears.  In other words, by the definitions above, the final exam is definitely "for learning," and could be categorized as formative.  So hah... my thesis stands.  Everything's a test, everything's a learning opportunity, and there's no point in making an artificial distinction between the formative and summative.


20 June 2014

Mail Time: Struggling with the deeper content on the new AP 1 and 2 exams

Chris wrote in to ask for advice and guidance with the physics content on the new AP exams.  He has taught physics for a number of years, but he felt quite overwhelmed at his College Board workshop last week.  He feels unprepared to teach the new courses.  I have little doubt that I will be encountering a number of participants who feel similarly as I embark on my own summer institutes.  Here's my response:

Chris,

I hear you that you struggle with the deep nature of the content in AP Physics 1.  And I'm well aware that you're hardly alone.

You ask for links or lectures, but I have nothing magical.  The only way to get good at the deeper physics content is to engage with it the same way you ask your students to.  

As you design your course for next year, do the problems; present them to the level you'd expect your students to present them.  When you get stuck, ask someone you trust for help.  (That could be the consultant or a colleague from the workshop you just finished, or me, or a local college professor, or the AP teacher community on AP Central, or even an alumnus/a who has taken college physics.)  Pledge not to assign a problem this year that you haven't extensively worked through yourself.  This work doesn't have to be done in the summer: In my own first year teaching AP I spent essentially every fall Sunday at the bar watching NFL Sunday Ticket, while I wrote up solutions to the upcoming week's problems.  There's nothing wrong with being only a few days ahead of the students, as long as you're ahead.

Then get into your lab.  I'm a big fan of setting up the example problems you do in class (or the problems you assign for homework) as demonstrations or lab exercises.  Practice making measurements to experimentally verify the answer to a couple of problems that you've worked through.  You might find that you need some new equipment; get it before the school year starts, figure out where to borrow it, or put it on a wish list for when you are asked what money to spend.  Where you can't obtain new equipment, find alternate ways of making measurements.  Then when the school year starts, spend an hour each week in lab doing creative work figuring out how to verify predictions that you've made in class.  Nothing wrong with asking students to help out with this process -- late in the year especially, they might become better lab putterers than you are.

And finally, don't expect to be perfect when the school year starts.  Be honest with your students: you're learning along with them.  Don't be intimidated when you solve a problem incorrectly -- just figure out how to do it right, show the class, and move on.  Go ahead and assign a lab exercise that you've never done yourself, or one for which you only have a vague idea how to approach.  Put yourself in a lab group and work alongside your students.  When you become stumped in lab, again ask someone you trust for ideas.   Don't expect everything to succeed -- instead, just make good notes for next year about what worked and what didn't.

The goal should be that by the end (not the beginning) of the school year, you should be able to get a 5 on the AP Physics 1 exam.  Don't worry about what scores your students get.  In the second and third year, you can work on adding the cool teaching ideas that you discussed in your workshop or that you read online.

Point is, while you've definitely got a bunch of work ahead of you, don't discourage yourself by expecting to learn everything immediately.  Learning how to teach physics is a three year process.  Expect to feel somewhat inadequate leading into your first year -- I know I did.  But don't evaluate your progress until the third year is finished.  If at that point you still are having major content difficulties and your students are not passing, then it's time to find another line of work.  More likely, in May of 2017 you'll find that your students are doing well, you're confident in your understanding of the material, and you're excited to try out new teaching ideas that seemed ridiculous back when you took that June 2014 workshop.

Good luck.

16 June 2014

Rewriting Physics B questions for Physics 2: 2014 B7, thin films

The new AP Physics 1 and 2 exams cover much of the same material that AP Physics B has covered for decades.  The style of questions will be completely different, though, requiring a tremendous amount of verbal response.  To help teachers understand how the new exam will look, the College Board has released 1.5 practice exams;* few other materials vetted by the committee are available.

* One official practice exam available to anyone who has submitted a course audit for AP Physics B or for the new courses; half a practice exam with the course description.

One of our task as AP Physics 1 and 2 teachers will be to develop a library of questions in the style of the new exams.  A great place to start is with the released Physics B exams.  But don't use them verbatim.  Rewrite the Physics B question such that calculation is minimized or eliminated; and such that students are asked to explain their understanding of each question.

As an example, take a look at problem 7 from the 2014 Physics B exam.  (You can find it at this link.)  The item presents a situation involving thin films, and then poses five different tasks.  Here is each, and how (or whether) it can be rewritten for the AP Physics 2 exam.

Part (a) is a straight-up determination of the frequency given the wavelength and speed of light.  Such straightforward "calculate this" questions will be vanishingly rare on the new exams.  I'd skip this part.

Part (b) asks for a calculation of the frequency of green light in the film; part (c) asks for a calculation of the wavelength in the film.  Think about what's important or interesting about these questions.  We're looking to see that the student recognizes that the frequency is unchanged in the film; then, we're looking to see the student use either λn = λ / n; or, we're looking to see the student use v = λf with a recalculated speed of light in the film.  So, to rewrite for physics 2, try asking a question that requires the student to know and articulate these issues.

I guess I'd make each of these parts a ranking task:  "Rank, from greatest to least, the three materials (air, oil, transparent plate) in order of the frequency of the green light in the material. If the green light has the same frequency in two or more materials, indicate so clearly in your ranking.  Justify your answer."  And again the same question for wavelength.  While the frequency question is pretty much know-it-or-don't, the justification of the wavelength ranking requires some good explanation.

Parts (d) and (e) are already exactly the kind of question that Physics 2 will be asking all over the place.*  Part (d) requires a justification that cannot be accomplished with simple reference to an equation; part (e) uses the prompts "describe" and "give an explanation for the phenomenon."  

* Although I'm told reliably that "place a check by your answer" format will be eliminated.  Part (d) would be phrased identically, but the "greater than, less than, or equal to" answer would be expected to be part of the student's prose..

If there's enough people who ask, I can write a series of suggestions about rephrasing old Physics B questions.  This approach -- determine the important conceptual element of the calculation, then ask a question that requires students to articulate that element -- should work to make any Physics B free response item into a Physics 1 or 2 problem.  

10 June 2014

"Honors Physics" as an obsolete concept -- determining readiness for AP Physics 1 and 2

Vidhya writes in:

I was hoping that you would be able to provide some insight to a question I have about teaching the new AP Physics 1 course.  In my school students have previously taken Honors Physics before AP Physics. However, with the changes in the AP course, some feel that the information offered will be redundant and are thinking of just waiting until we offer AP Physics 2 the following year. In Honors Physics we cover Newtonian Mechanics – no electricity or rotational motion. Instead, I am seeing a lot of students who have never taken a physics course signing up for AP Physics 1.

In your opinion, is it better for students to have physics experience before taking Physics 1? Will students who are coming from Honors Physics where many of the topics are covered already be bored in Physics1? 

Hi, Vidhya!  This is one of the more common questions I've been asked about the redesigned AP courses.

Unlike Physics B, Physics 1 is in fact intended as a first year course.  Top students who have had a truly rigorous honors course are likely better off in AP Physics 2.  Topic coverage isn't what's important in that decision... it's purely the rigor of the honors course.  

Try giving some of these students the practice AP Physics 1 exam.  If they can't do it, then they really should do the AP Physics 1 course, because they'll be lost in physics 2.  If they can do fine on the non-rotational non-electricity questions, they should move into physics 2, where they will likely excel.

I'd suggest that an "Honors Physics" course is now essentially obsolete.  A student who is qualified for an honors course can do AP Physics 1 just fine as a first year course.  Then that student can go into physics 2. Many schools are replacing their honors physics - AP Physics B sequence by just AP Physics 1 - AP Physics 2.

Good luck!

GCJ

08 June 2014

Designing your new course in the fall – don't make too-specific plans right now.

As you’re planning a new course – one you’ve never taught before – for the fall, it’s tempting to use the available summer time to plan everything down to the day.  While that sounds great in principle, such an attempt is doomed to disappointment.  You’ll never actually finish the planning this summer, for one thing.  More importantly, no battle plan survives contact with the enemy.  You might have the most wondrous sequence for October 17-24 to study linear momentum… but all it takes is a missed day for a statewide power outage on October 1 plus an unscheduled pep rally, and suddenly you have to re-plan.

Before you even begin, recognize that course development is a long-term, multi-year process.  It takes me two to five years before I’m truly comfortable with a set of course materials.  Expect that you'll prepare for activities, structures, and assignments that simply don’t work.  Be ready to switch gears midstream.*  Be like the electron, with a wave function well-distributed among many possibilities, but uncollapsed until the school  year progresses.

* Mixed metaphors are legal in physics blogs.
  
I start the summer with the same sort of planning I’d do for a class I’ve taught before:  I choose a plan for testing*, and choose major test dates that are not likely to conflict with other school events.  I make a general outline of topics overlaid on my school calendar, so I can see the approximate pace I need to set.  I write a brief syllabus communicating expectations for problem sets and such.

* For AP Physics 1, I think I’m going to try giving a weekly 10 question multiple choice test on Fridays, and a free response test every three or four weeks on lab day. 

Next, I prepare to write my tests.  This doesn't mean I write my tests ahead of time!  Since I’m choosing only the test dates in advance, and since every test is cumulative, I can’t necessarily predict what kinds of questions my class will be ready for.  So all I can do in the summer is collect and organize as broad a swath of test questions as possible.

Organization is the key here.  My own choice is to print a dedicated hard copy of every source of test questions that I might use.  I put this stack of paper in a folder, with each source labeled.  I also have a PDF scan of these sources in a computer file marked “test sources for AP Physics 1.”  When it comes time during the year to write a test, I browse through this large stack of hard copy to find questions on the correct topics.  As I use a question, I mark it off on the hard copy so that I avoid later duplication.  Then I go to the PDF source to copy and paste the question into Microsoft word.  In the summer, the goal isn't to write the tests – it’s to make the eventual process into a straightforward exercise in compilation rather than a creative writing job.

I write about two weeks’ worth of problem sets and in-class exercises.  For these early classes, I can be pretty accurate about the day to day progress of the course.  I’m as much brainstorming the style and scope of the questions I’m intending to ask as I am finding just the right questions to provide content practice.  I don't do any detailed planning beyond about that two week window, though.  

And finally, I gather resources related to each topic.  In particular, I've been recasting some of the quantitative demonstrations I've done for years as in-class predictive lab exercises; and I've been gathering equipment and brainstorming rotational motion labs and demonstrations.  Here I'm not making specific plans.  The day-to-day choices about the sequencing of each topic are, I think, best left for later. In the past when I have attempted to make a day-by-day plan months in advance, I've found in the moment that all that work was for naught.  Early on, I learn how the students react to my course structure and style.  I change a lot based on what works and what doesn't.  So it's best to wait to plan later units until I've had some experiences to build on.