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Summer 2012

The workshop will be over 3 weeks (July 9-27) in Manhattan, at Columbia Teachers College (W120 St.). The workshop will run Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 4:30 pm. The topic will be Newtonian Mechanics, including kinematics (description of motion) and dynamics (forces and Newton's Laws of Motion). The workshop will use a well-proven curriculum and methodology ("Modeling Instruction") that is especially suited for high school and middle school classrooms. Modeling Instruction focuses on key selected physics models and uses a process-oriented inquiry approach that is extremely effective in helping students develop independence and problem-solving ability.

Immersing teachers in an environment where they see the instruction from the point of view of the students is key to strengthening the intertwined mechanics content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge. In 20 years of running Modeling workshops, we have found that three weeks of full-day workshops are the minimum exposure teachers need to feel comfortable implementing Modeling Instruction pedagogy in their own classes. If you want to find out more about Modeling Instruction, go to modeling.asu.edu.

Goals. The Modeling Workshop in mechanics is an intensive 3-week course with these goals:

1. Educate teachers in use of a model-centered, guided inquiry method of teaching mechanics concepts that are fundamental to all of science.

2. Help participants integrate computer courseware effectively into the science curriculum.

3. Help teachers make better use of national resources for science education.

4. Establish electronic network support and a learning community among participants.

5. Strengthen local institutional support for participants as school leaders in disseminating standards-based reform in science education.

The main objective of the proposed introductory summer Modeling Workshop in mechanics is to acquaint teachers with all aspects of the modeling method and develop some skill in implementing it. To that end, teachers will be provided with a fairly complete set of written curriculum materials to support instruction organized into coherent modeling cycles (as described in Wells et al., A Modeling Method . . ., American Journal of Physics, Vol 63, pp. 606-619, 1995). The physical materials and experiments in the curriculum are simple and quite standard, already available in most physics classrooms.

To develop familiarity with the materials necessary to fully implement this approach in the classroom, we find that teachers must work through the activities, discussions and worksheets, alternating between student and teacher modes. Each of the nine units in the mechanics course manual includes an extensive Teacher Notes section. Throughout the course, teachers are asked to reflect on their practice and how they might apply the techniques they have learned in the course to their own classes.

Questions about the content of the summer workshop and/or Modeling Instruction should be addressed to Mark Schober < jmschober at gmail.com >.
Questions about organizational aspects of the workshop and PhysicsTeachersNYC should be addressed to Fernand Brunschwig < fbrunsch at gmail.com >

PhysicsTeachersNYC was originated in summer 2011 by a group of teachers as a teacher-led physics study group. The group members were all practitioners of a curriculum and pedagogy known as Modeling Instruction, developed collaboratively by university and high school physics educators over the past 20 years. The group conducts sessions focused directly on Modeling Instruction as well as more general workshops for sharing ideas about teaching and learning in physics.

Modeling Instruction. The use of modeling in teaching was pioneered by Robert Karplus in his 1969 textbook, Introductory Physics: A Modeling Approach, and Modeling Instruction was subsequently developed at Arizona State University by David Hestenes, Malcolm Wells, and Gregg Swackhamer, as well as by many others across the country. The best way to learn about Modeling Instruction is through peer-led summer workshops. If you'd like to read more about it, go to < modeling.asu.edu > or take a look at Introductory Physics by Robert Karplus.