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About

The Virtual Image is my place to write reflections on teaching.  I’ve been teaching for about 20 years in and around Philadelphia, mostly physics.  I’ve used Active Physics and Modeling Instruction and I teach AP Physics C (both Mechanics and Electricity and Magnetism).  I’ve taken the Matter & Interactions course for teachers from Bruce Sherwood, attended my first AAPT meeting in Winter of 1992, and been a member of AAPT since 1990.  I try to encourage critical thinking, use technology, integrate cooperative learning, foster literacy, and keep up with the paperwork.  In between, I hope to reflect regularly on what I am doing, and I hope some of my colleagues across the country will comment and make suggestions.

I am currently (2012-2013) the president of the American Modeling Teachers Association (AMTA) and I am also interested in how we can best serve the teachers using Modeling Instruction, and how we can expand the use of Modeling Instruction to more teachers and disciplines.

One of the major lessons I have learned as a teacher is that there is always more to learn.  I hope this blog will be another learning opportunity.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 28, 2010 3:44 PM

    Hey! I didn’t know you used Active Physics. How does it stack against modeling, in your opinion?

  2. July 28, 2010 3:57 PM

    The purpose and structure of Active Physics are very different from Modeling. It is very hard to place them side-by-side and do a comparison.

    I actually field tested Active Physics before it was commercially available, and I liked it for a number of reasons.

    (1) Students participated in deciding how to evaluate their culminating projects for each unit.
    (2) Every activity specifically builds toward the culminating project for each unit.
    (3) There are no tests 😉
    (4) Every day there is an activity (and not just pencil-and-paper)to do, keeping students engaged and active, which is good for classroom management.

    • July 28, 2010 4:05 PM

      Thanks! I’m looking to take the culminating project idea and fold it into the modeling curriculum.

      But “understanding-physics-wise” do you think one does a better job than the other?

      • September 19, 2010 10:15 AM

        Honestly, I cannot answer that. First, the populations that I used modeling with have all been 11th/12th graders, while I taught Active Physics to 9th graders. Second, I have no objective measure such as the FCI that I could use to compare the groups. Third, I find it difficult to compare hand-on down-and-dirty understanding (like an electrician or plumber might have) with an ability to analyze data and find a model and learn from it. Both are useful skills/knowledge, both may feel “instinctual” to the person who has the skills, but which is “better?” I think Active Physics promotes more physical, gut-level understanding of physics but Modeling promotes more “apply this to anything to learn about it” skill about physics. Thanks for asking the hard questions. I have been thinking about how to answer you on-and-off since you asked this.

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