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What Makes A Good Resource - Kinematics

This page has been archived. The content was correct at the time of original publication, but is no longer updated.
Created on 09 August 2010 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 27 August 2010 by ncetm_administrator

What Makes a Good Resource


Cards representing types of motion Resource description:
The resource is a set of cards representing different types of motion for the students to match. In addition there is one extra acceleration-time graph and one extra velocity-time graph which represent other situations and some blank cards. Having matched the cards the students draw graphs for the two other 'left over' situations and complete the missing sets of cards. In particular, it is intended that the students offer as much detailed description as they can for each situation, and possibly word this in the style of an exam question.

Download the resource (Excel)
Teacher comment:

I have a group of A level students who had 'been taught' displacement, velocity and acceleration-time graphs but I didn't feel that they had any real intuitive understanding of the topic. My usual approach to teaching this topic is to give students some graphs to describe, or perhaps to draw, a graph from a description and then to calculate displacement, velocity or acceleration from them. This often involves teacher led activity and individual work on one question at a time. I wanted to put these students into a learning situation where they could explore and consolidate their understanding rather than me "teaching' them. The idea is that most of the required concepts are consolidated in one single motivating activity.


What I did:

Students work in pairs and can discuss amongst themselves with very little teacher guidance. The card sort promotes discussion and kinaesthetic learning with a sense of purpose – to complete the matching of the cards. However it is designed for further work using the blank cards.

I used this resource with a group of students in Year 12 who had been taught this topic in September but had recently sat the M1 exam.

I gave out the cards to the students who worked in pairs. Initially I gave them no instructions – but it quickly became apparent that 'support' was needed so I asked the students if they could define the categories of the cards. Students then discussed between them which graphs fell into which category causing some confusion along the way! I found out that my students were unsure about the meaning of the gradient of a v(t) graph and the area underneath – sorting this out really helped them to make progress with the activity.

Students also found it hard to match the descriptions correctly – I used questions like 'does a lift travel at 20ms-1?' to unlock another layer of meaning for the students.

Students went on to write their own descriptions of the motion which they read out to the class.


This activity needed much longer than I had anticipated – it took about 45mins After the activity the students felt that it had reinforced their understanding of the links between the graphs. What was striking was the increase in their confidence. There was a marked difference between the starting point, where the students seemed to be floundering, compared with the end point, where they confidently and independently wrote down questions which sounded like they had been written by the exam board!

Students were fully engaged, but too often I felt like helping them or 'telling them what to do' when they got 'stuck'. Part of this is down to my usual style of teaching at A level, where I do have a tendency to use my explanations in an attempt to make it easier for the students. Also they have been used to this style all year and were expecting me to help them. Here students were thinking and choosing for themselves, which I need to incorporate more of into my teaching. In future I would do this activity while the principles are fresh in their mind, and use it as a tool for 'teaching', not just consolidation. I think then that less teacher input would be required at the start.

Further Education
What makes a good resources - using the materials

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