Reading guides (or sometimes called guided readings) are designed to get students to open a textbook. They are an excellent means to improve student reading comprehension skills, fluency, and word recognition. They force the students to actively interact with the text in a quantifiable manner. And once the students are done with the reading guides, they have a ready-made study guide to look over for the quiz! To keep the kids honest when putting down answers, I typically cut and paste some of the answers to a weekly quiz.
Reading guides also make good sub-lesson plans. They are self-directed activities which the majority of students should be able to independently finish.
The reading guides I offer were designed for use with the Paul Hewitt Conceptual Physics book with the white roller coaster on the cover (2009). The ISBN number is 9780133647495. If you do not have this edition of the book, many of the questions and page numbers will not align correctly. The reading guides are typically 45 to 50 questions in length, with a good mix of higher- and lower-level questions in the mix. There are also some questions where graphs must be drawn, or sketches need to be made.
The reading guides are numbered about 25 questions per sheet of paper (roughly 50 questions total), so that if students are working in pairs, they can split the work evenly between them with no arguments of who will be doing more work. This is also an exercise in teamwork and peer communication skills!
Contact (1997) is based on a novel by Carl Sagan. This film depicts the struggles of Ellie Arroway, a SETI researcher, to find meaning through the complex societal web that sometimes places faith and religion against science and logic. The theme of the movie, at its heart, is a philosophical debate between the merits and meaning of love, compassion, faith, and metaphysical mystery, versus the objective, non-judgmental, and quantifiable realm of the hard sciences. This film makes a grand comparison between Ellie Arroway’s personal journey to enlightenment, and humanities struggle with the ramifications brought by our technological capabilities. Just as Ellie found a meaningful balance between science and belief, human civilization must also strike a balance between our scientific technological capabilities and our decisions on how to use them wisely.
The scientific topics discussed in the movie include the Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity, time dilation, light years, wormholes, and the SETI Program.
The film is well-suited for the following classes: astronomy, general science, physical science, physics, the humanities, and psychology.
The runtime is 2:22 minutes. The 45-question movie guide worksheet is slip-up over 4 days of classroom viewing, with about 36 minutes of viewing per day. The questions are higher-order in nature. They ask the students to analyze and apply the concepts discussed in the film, form a substantiated opinion, and then write an explanation based on their individual interpretation.
Hawking delves deep into the concept of time travel, but artfully keeps the conversation interesting and understandable for the students. He uses a logical and scaffolded approach to explain what can sometimes be considered a counter-intuitive and difficult-to-follow concept.
Interstellar (2014) is a masterpiece of visual artistry and a well of accurate scientific information. The storyline seamlessly blends the human element with aspects of Einstein’s theory of Relativity in a fight-for-survival of the human race. This movie is standard viewing for any physics class where relativity is taught. Appropriate classes for this movie guide would be physics, astronomy, or physical science. The movie guide consists of 32 physics-related higher-order questions. There are no questions relating to the storyline or emotional arcs presented in the plot. Topics discussed include, relativity, time dilation, the fabric of space-time, spatial geometry, black holes, worm holes, singularities, event horizons, the twin’s paradox, Newton’s Laws of Motion, Newtons Third Law, gravitational pull, magnetism, multiple dimensions, higher dimensions, centripetal force, and aero braking.
The runtime is 2:25, over the course of five days. Each day consists of roughly 30-36 minutes of viewing time, leaving extra time for students to complete the questions, or facilitate classroom discussion. But when showing this to my students, I typically pause the movie at certain junctures explaining what is happening and why. The students greatly appreciate this. It lends to a deepened appreciation of the film.