About Concept Checkers

Since the advent of Task Tracker, we started hearing requests from users to have a tool like Task Tracker for our Physics Interactives section. In the event that you’re not familiar with our Physics Interactives section, it consists of about 100 simulations, skill-building activities, and game-like challenges. They are all very useful … but not all of them have something that is “worth tracking.” For instance, it’s hard to track a student activities in a Projectile Simulator interactive or a Gravitational Fields interactive. At the same time, some of our more popular interactives such as Name That Motion, Graph That Motion, and Free-Body Diagrams would benefit from a tracking tool like Task Tracker. So beginning in March of 2022, we started to experiment with the tracking of Physics Interactives activities that had trackable features. And for the other Interactives, we started to create Concept Checkers. As of this writing (mid-January, 2023), we have 64 of our Physics Interactives equipped with a concept-checking component. In 18 cases, that concept-checking (progress tracking) is done directly in the Interactive. In the other 46 cases, a separate Concept Checker accompanies the Interactive.


What is a Concept Checker?

A Concept Checker is an interactive questioning tool designed to assess student understanding of a concept that we hope has emerged from an online activity such as a Physics Interactive. The questions in the Concept Checker will emphasize the key elements that we believe should emerge from the simulation. And where available, we use the existing classroom-ready activity sheets that accompany these simulations as a guide in creating the Concept Checker questions.  

We modeled the Concept Checkers after our Minds On Physics activities with a Progress Bar and a Health Bar. The Health Bar goes down as students miss questions. The Progress Bar goes up as they answer questions correctly. If the Progress Bar reaches 100% before the Health Bar drops to 0%, then the student is considered successful. If the Health Bar drops to 0%, they can restart from the beginning. When using a Concept Checker with a Task Tracker subscription, we will keep track of student progress. Teachers with Task Tracker accounts can view scores, see the most missed questions, the highest progress percent received by a student, etc. Task Tracker teachers will even have the ability to discard a question from the Concept Checker and set their own Health Penalty that determines how fast the Health Bar goes down.


I'm a Teacher. How Can I Use Concept Checkers?

That's a great question! When we create a new resource, we have a learning outcome and a usage strategy in mind. But we design flexibly with the intent that other creative teachers might want to use it differently than we would. We believe in putting great tools in the hands of great teachers with the confidence that they will find the best ways to use the tools in the context of their own classrooms. Teachers know their students and their course better than we do and they know how to make a tool most useful in their classroom. So when it comes to the question of How Can I Use Concept Checkers?, we encourage teachers to experiment with a variety of implementations and use the ones that best fit their own classroom.

That being said, we were thinking when we created the tool that there would be three things that would tie together – an interactive simulation, an activity sheet, and the Concept Checker. In our ideal world, we would incorporate the simulation as an activity within the lesson plan. The activity would be framed with a question. Students would be given an activity sheet with some directions or questions to investigate. The activity sheet would be a place where students record notes, record data, answer questions, and make decisions based on how they perceive a concept. (We have activity sheets available in the Physics Interactives section if you would like to use ours.) At some point during the lesson, the teacher would lead a discussion of student findings, answers, questions, etc. And then it's time to check comprehension of the concept with a Concept Checker. Students would pull out their devices and navigate to the Concept Checker and begin. 

The questions in a Concept Checker were designed to reinforce concepts in the simulation. In many instances the questions are similar to or extensions of the questions on the activity sheet that accompanies the simulation. The activity sheet serves as the bridge between the simulation and the Concept Checker.

Interactives such as Name That Motion, Graph That Motion, and Free-Body Diagrams (just to name a few) have the Task Tracker code built in. A separate Concept Checker is not needed. These type of Interactives are skill-building activities that challenge students to perform a skill like drawing a free-body diagram or matching the image characteristics to the location of an object in front of a concave mirror. If using such a simulation with a Task Tracker subscription, our code tracks the student progress and saves it in the back-end database for teachers to view. And partial progress is saved so that students who did not finish during class can resume their work outside of class.


Are Concept Checkers Free?

Yes! That's one of the many awesome aspects of a Concept Checker. They won't cost you, your student, or your school a penny. They are 100% free ... and so are the simulations at our Physics Interactives section. But the free use of Concept Checkers has the limitation of there being no storage of student progress data and no ability to customize the Concept Checker.  But that doesn't need to be a big deal. If you're using them in class, just ask students to "show your screen" when they're finished. They absolutely love the Trophies and the dataways and will proudly show you their accomplishment ... along with a great big smile. And if you do want to keep track of student progress, Task Tracker accounts can be purchased for Concept Checkers. Using Concept Checkers with Task Tracker offers many benefits and you won't be able to beat the price.  


So Why Use Task Tracker?

So if it’s free, then why bother with a Task Tracker subscription? That’s a fair question and one we hope all teachers think about. Task Tracker is a tracking tool. It will track what questions have been missed and answered correctly. It will track whether or not the activity was completed. Task Tracker will report scores for your classes. Additionally, Task Tracker gives teachers some control. If you don’t like a question, you can discard it and your students will never be presented the question. You can control the Health Penalty. You can set due dates and get time-stamped data of when the task was completed. You can set late penalties (or not set late penalties). And finally, a Task Tracker teacher can easily view the Questions in the activity and their organization into Question Groups. Task Tracker simply makes it easier to use our resources and integrate them into your unit planning, lesson planning, and study planning. But Task Tracker never establishes a paywall between a student who wants to learn and the activity that will help them learn.


What in the World is Task Tracker?

Task Tracker is our tool which tracks student progress on activities found on our website. We launched Task Tracker during the Spring of 2020 when the pandemic closed schools. After beta testing it that Spring, we released it during the 2020-21 school year as a tool for tracking student progress on our Concept Builders. We re-wrote our Minds On Physics Internet Modules and released it as a Task Tracker compatible feature at the start of the 2021-22 school year. We will continue to configure sections of our website for use with Task Tracker. Concept Checkers for Physics Interactives is one more way that we are doing that. To learn about pricing for Concept Checkers, visit our Pricing for Schools page.