ISAAPT Outstanding High School
Physics Teacher Nominations
2004-2005

The following information pertains to twelve candidates for the ISAAPT Outstanding High School Physics Teacher of the Year Award. We received two forms for each candidate: (1) Nomination and (2) Candidate Information.  Please read this document and e-mail your top three choices to Diana Roth (droth@springfield.k12.il.us) by February 18, 2005. Please number your choices.

 1.  Sandy Gooder, Tricity High School, Buffalo
 2.  Michael Kennedy, Neuqua Valley High School, Naperville
 3.  Bruce Keyzer, Auburn High School, Rockford
 4.  Kunal Pujara, Highland Park High School, Highland Park
 5.  Jay Smith, DeKalb High School, DeKalb
 6.  Joe Ruffolo, Leyden High School, Barrington
  7.  Joshua Oladipo, Chicago Public Schools, Chicago
  8.  James Megenhardt, Tri-Point High School, Cullom
  9.  Daniel Chissus, Naperville
10.  Sarah Fay, Zion-Benton Township High School, Park City
11.  Michael Gebhard, Bloomington High School, Bloomington
12.  Nicholas Drozdoff, New Trier High School, Glencoe

Here are the seven questions that were asked of each candidate.

1. Briefly state your teaching philosophy
2. In what way are you an outstanding physics teacher?
3. Tell us about the impact your teaching has had on your students.
4. What have you done for professional development during the past 5 years?
5. How have you assisted other teachers (or teacher candidates) in their professional development?
6. How have you incorporated state and national science teaching standards in your teaching?
7. Tell us something about your teaching innovations.


Nomination

Sandy Gooder (7 years)
2328 Cherry Hills Apt. D
Springfield, IL 62704
217-726-8724

Ms. Gooder was a tenured teacher when I arrived as her principal five years ago. Since then she has shown a huge interest in our students academic improvement. She is constantly volunteering for positions of sponsorship that are difficult to fill. Her hours at school out number her hours at home. Upon asking her to continue her education for qualification in Physics, she did not hesitate. She continues to set good examples in her class as well as out.

Nominated by:

Randy Dwyer, High School Principal
rdwyer@tc.sangamon.k12.il.us

Candidate Information

Sandy Gooder (8 years)
324 West Charles
Buffalo, IL 62515
217-364-4530
sgooder@tc.sangamon.k12.il.us

Question 1:

My teaching philosophy is to take children and help them mature academically and socially. I also want each student to learn and gain life skills. I help each child mature academically by challenging them in the classroom. I expect the students to work up to their potential. This potential may be different for each child. I also help the students mature academically by preparing them for future classes at Tri-City High School or in the college of their choice. I try to provide the students with real world science applications. I want my students to experience science in a manner that lets them see that science is present in the world around them.

I help each child mature socially be providing opportunities for group interaction and laboratory work. When students are working in a group, they assume various roles. The students are constantly changing their roles. The students learn the value of collaboration. I help each child learn to defend his or her work and opinion.

I help the students gain life skills by teaching them to be independent learners. Since the class is often taught at a time when I have another class, the students learn to be independent. I try and teach them time management by giving them a deadline in which their work needs to be completed. Thus learning the need for organization.

Question 2:

I feel that I am an outstanding physics teacher for the following reasons. Since students have multiple intelligences, I use a variety of teaching methods. Students are presented information through lecture, lab, and critical thinking problems. Students will often be given the chance to work problems in a group and to diagram their problem using a white board. Students are given the chance to apply what they have learned in solving real world problems in a creative and fun way. Some of the projects that they have completed include making a working model of a roller coaster and a mobile projectile launcher.

Students are exposed to a variety of technological resources. Student use the digital camera and produce an I-movie. We also use probes that are linked to the computer for some labs.

I also feel that I am an outstanding teacher because I teach lessons beyond the classroom. I take advantage of teachable moments that may not be directly related to physics. Students need to learn about life, which does not revolve solely around physics. I discuss college issues with juniors and seniors. Students leave my room having learned how to manage their time and having experienced personal growth.

I feel that being flexible and supportive of my colleagues also makes me a good physics teacher. I teach multiple classes at the same time. I believe that I am not the one who knows everything. I utilize the technology resources available at our school.

Question 3:

My teaching has had an impact on my students. I believe that I have given my students the love and enjoyment of science. I have done this by letting them see the real world applications for science through the problems we work and the various projects assigned during the year. I have also allowed them the ability to apply various strategies to a real world problem.

I have also impacted students by creating life long, independent learners. By leading students to the answer and not giving it to them, I have taught them the value of independent learning. They have learned team building through group projects, time management through deadlines, and organization through developing a portfolio.

I have taught my students about life choices and experiences. My students have dealt with adversity. They have struggled with a difficult topic and learned how to overcome and persevere. They have learned how to work in a cooperative group and how to select team members. Students often find that working with their best friend may not always be the best idea. I have also impacted students to become risk takers. No idea is ever discounted in my classroom. Students are encouraged to try various ideas when they are working on a project. The students also learn how to rebound when an idea does not live up to their expectations.

Question 4:

During the last five years I done many things to advance professionally. I have taken various classes, including one on problem based learning. I will be implementing the ideas learned this year. I have taken physics classes at ISU to receive my Physics endorsement. Other classes that I have taken include one on portfolios and a chemistry class from Northern Iowa. I have also attended various workshops including a rural physics teacher workshop that was offered this past summer. I have also attended the Illinois Science Teacher and National Association of Science Teacher conventions. I have attended the Illinois Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers workshops in the fall and spring .

I also participate in professional development at Tri-City High School. I am a member of the curriculum committee, which provides input into scheduling and policy changes. I am also a member of the internal review team.

Question 5:

I have assisted other teachers in their professional development. During the last two years I have been a mentor teacher to the two new science teachers that have come to Tri-City. I have been a sounding board when these teachers have had questions or concerns. I have provided suggestions on various topics.

I have contributed to the professional development of other teachers by presenting at various workshops and meetings. I have presented with other teachers at the Connections conference on how to implement a career portfolio. I have presented a summary of our internal review to other teachers at Tri-City in a building meeting, in addition to serving on the internal review team. Since I am the science chairperson, I presented the results of our PSAE to the other members of my department.

Question 6:

I have incorporated state standards into my teaching in a variety of ways. The state standards help to determine my choice of topics to emphasize in my physics class. The state standards have also determined the way that I have written the curriculum maps and local assessments for my classes. While not in my physics class, I have incorporated the state standards by doing a PSAE review. I have modified the curriculum as needed to concentrate on those areas that the students have shown a weakness in on the PSAE.

I have incorporated the national standards by adding more inquiry-based lessons. I have converted labs from a traditional type of lab to an inquiry-based lab. I have also done inquiry through the real world projects that are assigned. Providing differentiated instruction to the students also incorporates the national standards.

Question 7:

I am constantly trying to come up with better ways of teaching, which has led to some teaching innovations. Because we follow an eight-block schedule, I have allowed the students to teach each other when it comes to problems. Each student will work a problem on the white board. They then present that problem to the class. If the problem is wrong, the class helps the student to work the problem correctly.

The eight-block and having multiple classes at the same time has also led to some innovative time management strategies. The students have been shown how to manage their time in different ways. I am able to spend only a certain amount of time with them each class period, which we have learned how to make the most of.

Other innovations involve the various assigned projects. Students design a working scale model of a roller coaster. The students must also make a brochure about their roller coaster and make a presentation in a business setting. I also have the students design a mobile projectile launcher. Their launcher must maintain a minimum speed and be able to launch a projectile for a set distance. The launchers must also have CDs used as critical, working components. The third major project that is assigned is a Rube Goldberg machine that has to perform a classroom task. Students are given a choice of tasks for their machine to perform. Students write a paper describing the physics principles used in the particular project.


2. Michael Kennedy, Neuqua Valley High School, Naperville, Illinois

Nomination

Mike Kennedy (6 years)
2360 95th street
Naperville, IL 60564
630-428-6041
mike_kennedy@ipsd.org

nomination letter:

November 25, 2002 - Letter of support for Mike Kennedy:

Mike Kennedy has taught the past three years at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, Illinois. He teaches five sections of honors physics and AP physics.

Mike is the most gifted and hardest working teacher I have come in contact with in my fourteen years as an educator. Mike exudes enthusiasm. His passion for teaching is second to none when it comes to providing students opportunities to learn difficult concepts. Mike arrives at school at 5:30 a.m. every morning. He does this not to prepare for the day, for he is a master planner, but to make sure his plate is clean so he may be available for students. It is not uncommon to see 20-25 students in his room asking questions and working together in study groups before school.

Mike is a risk taker. He is not afraid to try new things and use technology to enhance instruction. He is very innovative, having created many different lessons using the latest technology. He takes the initiative to write mini grants for materials we cannot afford in our regular budget. His latest purchase was a Millikan Oil Drop Apparatus that measures the charge of an electron! Mike collaborated with other physics teachers to collect data for this experiment. Instead of telling students the charge of an electron, students were able to collect data and make interpretations. Mike always states the objectives for the day‚s lesson and high expectations are set for his students. His classes are student-centered. Labs, activities, and inquiry-based learning are the norms.

Mike is a leader in our department. He is our course leader for honors physics. He is often seen working with other teachers in planning lessons. Mr. Kennedy is a team player. Many other science teachers have expressed to me how much they have learned and enjoyed working with Mike. He is selfless and always thinks about others.

Students feel very comfortable in their interactions with Mr. Kennedy. Mike is a mentor and friend to his students. The climate in Mr. Kennedy‚s classroom is stimulating, challenging, and fun. He is able to relate to students on their terms while challenging them to reach their fullest potential. Our AP physics numbers have increased dramatically since his arrival two years ago at Neuqua Valley High School.

I recommend Mike Kennedy for this distinguished award without hesitation. If I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,

Paul Vandersteen, Science Department Chair, Neuqua Valley High School
paul_vandersteen@ipsd.org

Candidate Information

Michael Kennedy (11 years)
1813 Sandbank Drive
Plainfield, IL 60544
815-609-2593
mike_kennedy@ipsd.org

Question 1:

My teaching philosophy is quite simple. Treat every student as if that student were your child sitting in class. This implies that a student in my class is important and will receive the best education that I am capable of providing.It should come as no surprise that every student that comes into my classroom receives respect and fair treatment. I try to create a learning environment in which students will feel comfortable, but at the same time will have structure and discipline.Within this approach, I try to make each day the best possible learning experience for my students through large amounts of preparation, research, and simply thinking about what would best help my students to learn.I seek out and take advantage of every opportunity that I can find for my students. I go the extra mile, as I would for my own children, giving my students the assistance they need to be successful in high school and in the rest of life. I hope that each day with me shows them much more than scientific knowledge and skills, but instead also shows them how to be the best person that they are capable of becoming.

Question 2:

My approach to teaching is one aspect that makes me an outstanding physics teacher. I plan lessons that begin with student discovery. Rarely will students receive a lesson on a topic where they have first not experienced the phenomenon that we will be discussing first hand in my class. Then I draw upon these experiences as I question students about the nature of the phenomenon. This process allows them to come to their own conclusions and prepares them to question all that is around them. At the same time, this helps students to further develop their notions of physical concepts. Then together we show how their thoughts may be explained in mathematical ways. By allowing the students to control and experience ideas with my guidance, they become owners of the material and the material becomes important to them. I also use experiences from their everyday lives to further show them that physics is everywhere.

Question 3:

Since I have become a teacher, I have tried to make the study of physics a relevant and engaging process for my students. I show them that physics truly is everywhere and encompasses everything. To this end, my students become zealous in their pursuit of physics, treating it as the search for truth.This impact has manifested itself in the number of students that after taking my course have changed their career paths to include physics. Parents continually tell me that I helped to mold an interest in physics in their child. Within the past three years, my students have named me a „Most Influential Educator‰ thirteen times. The Class of 2002 also presented me with the Legacy Award for my contribution to their class. Every year this impact reaches more and more students as my AP Physics classes have grown by at least ten students every year and is presently at fifty-six students.The most profound statement of my impact was given a few hours after the birth of my son. He was very ill at birth and needed to be in intensive care for nine days. During that time, a parent of one of my former students that was also a nurse in the intensive care unit saw that it was my child and rearranged her schedule so that she could care for him. She told me that she was simply returning the favor for all that I had done for her son.

Question 4:

During the past five years I have actively pursued my professional development. For one week in the summer of 2000, I attended a workshop for AP Physics teachers. While there, I developed a set of guidelines for student laboratory work that they wish to submit to colleges for credit and further developed my course. I have also attended one-day workshops for AP Physics for the past six years.In the summer of 2000, I also finished my Masters Degree in Mathematics Education from St. Xavier University. While the degree focused on mathematics, I wrote my thesis on physics problem solving, specifically on how novices and experts look at and solve problems differently. My thesis serves as a guide for my teaching as I must constantly remind myself that I do not view problems in the same ways that my students do and this fact must be reflected in my teaching.During the past summer, I worked at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in several capacities. I was assigned to work with scientists on the booster ring to determine what parameters could be controlled to limit the amount of radiation in the service area of the ring. From this real world scenario, I developed exercises and webpages that would help students to understand not only particle physics, but also how to approach problems scientifically. I continually draw on my experiences from the summer to give my students a better picture of science at work in their community.

Question 5:

I have brought a great many aspects of my teaching and ideas to my colleagues. The first was to implement some common projects to our physics curriculum. I introduced our physics teachers to model bridge building and showed them how to incorporate this into their courses. Now all of our teachers can discuss the techniques and structures that will make bridge design successful. While the teachers at Neuqua Valley had taken trips to Great America for Physics Days before, we used a teacher work day to design projects for the trip which were more involved and allowed students to more fully and mathematically investigate the physics of an amusement park.I also serve as a resource for teachers at our school. Since many of our physics teachers did not study physics as their primary endorsement, I help these teachers prepare lessons, assessments, and laboratories that will be more beneficial for students and teachers alike. During this time, I try to empower the teachers to then develop these works further so that they will become more self-sufficient in the future.Most recently, I have begun to work on a workshop that teaches basic scientific concepts and skills that we cover in our science courses to mathematics teachers so that the mathematics teachers and science teachers may help each other to reinforce each others‚ teachings.

Question 6:

During the past few summers, the physics teachers from our district began the process or rewriting the physics curricula. As a member of the team, I not only helped to select an appropriate level for the course that we wrote, but I also helped to ensure that the standards were being followed and would continue to be followed in the future. This process will continue for the next few years. Even in my classroom, I will often address the standards in science to show students the expectations that have been placed upon them. When we discuss our courses in teams, I serve as the course leader and check on the progress of the courses, including how the standards are being followed.

Question 7:

My innovations have come in two main areas. The first is that I am in the process of writing a physics textbook that takes a more careful approach at developing problem solving skills through a series of increasingly mathematically difficult exercises. Students that follow this program will be led through logical "jumps" in the exercises which ensure that students first master the basics of the material and then are required to incorporate advanced problem solving techniques as the problems increase in difficulty. The difference between this program and others that I have seen is that this one will allow students to become familiar with simply the mechanics of doing certain problems first, rather than jumping into problems that require advanced problem solving techniques before students are ready. The second area where I have begun to make innovations is in the laboratory experiences that I have begun design. The most promising are a series of "desert island experiences" where students would be required to make things such as motors, generators and microphones out of simple objects, as if they were stranded on a desert island. I want my student to realize that many of the objects that we use everyday are well within their reach of understanding and capacity to build. At the same time, I want my students to take science out of the classroom and see it everywhere.


3. Bruce Keyzer, Auburn High School, Rockford, Illinois

Nomination

Bruce Keyzer (20 years or more)
Auburn High School
5110 Auburn
Rockford, IL 61106
bkeyzer@earthlink.net

nomination letter:

I have known Bruce since my children took physics from him 15 to 16 years ago. His course was one of the few in high school that students enjoyed taking. The best part was that they were then well prepared for continuued study of physics and science. Both as a physics professor at the local community college working with his former students, and seeing the effect he had on my own boys, I have come to respect his dedication and competence as a high school physics teacher.

More recently I gotten to know Bruce better as he has attended a few of the one-day workshops a couple of other instructors and I put on each semester for high school math, science, and technology. I am constantly reminded how fortunate our community is to have this quiet, competent teacher and think it would be most appropriate that his years of dedicated service be recognized. I can imagine no more worthy an individual to receive our award.

Duane Ingram, College Professor who works with his former students
d.ingram@rvc.cc.il.us

Candidate Information

Bruce Keyzer (31 years)
1326 Brownwood Drive
Rockford, IL 61107
815-968-0804
bkeyzer@earthlink.net

Question 1:

Below are listed, in no particular order, the principles which guide my teaching and interactions with my students: I believe everyone can learn. If a student is not good at physics it doesn‚t make them a bad person. Motivation is one of the most important things I can instill in my students Physics and mathematics are inherently beautiful Understanding the underlying principles of the natural world makes our journey through life more meaningful.

Question 2:

Below are listed, in no particular order, the principles which guide my teaching and interactions with my students: I believe everyone can learn. If a student is not good at physics it doesn‚t make them a bad person. Motivation is one of the most important things I can instill in my students Physics and mathematics are inherently beautiful Understanding the underlying principles of the natural world makes our journey through life more meaningful.

Question 3:

I have achieved some measure of success in the eyes of my students. This is evidenced by anecdotal comments from students and parents. I have had a large number of students apply what they have learned in my physics classes to earn degrees in physics, medicine, engineering and mathematics. They tell me the confidence and knowledge gained in high school physics was instrumental in their success. The following includes some special successes. Three former students received full ride engineering scholarships to the University of Minnesota. Five students have reached semifinalist status in the AAPT sponsored U.S. Physics Team competition. Last year we had a second and third place regional winner in the Physics Bowl Competition.

Question 4:

I have written and edited science items for the Prairie State Achievement Exams. Worked on a committee to establish the cut scores for the PSAE. Attended one or two MAPA (Math and Physics Applications) workshops at Rock Valley College each year for the past five years. Worked on High School/Rock Valley College/ Northern Illinois University articulation committee. Worked on Auburn High School‚s technology planning committee. Attended numerous workshops on brain research and layered curriculum, laboratory safety, learning standards, and scientific literacy training. Attended week AP workshops at Purdue, Illinois Wesleyan, and Marquette.

Question 5:

I have supervised two student teachers. I meet regularly and share ideas and teaching strategies with other physics and science teachers in the district. I collaborate with both the new and veteran teachers in my building. I routinely share and repair laboratory equipment. I work cooperatively with other teachers in the Auburn Academy to continue to provide a well rounded and challenging academic program for our students

Question 6:

I have supervised two student teachers. I meet regularly and share ideas and teaching strategies with other physics and science teachers in the district. I collaborate with both the new and veteran teachers in my building. I routinely share and repair laboratory equipment. I work cooperatively with other teachers in the Auburn Academy to continue to provide a well rounded and challenging academic program for our students

Question 7:

Over the twenty-six years of teaching physics I have moved from hand written documents to typed, to word processed with hand drawn diagrams, to word processed documents with computer drawn diagrams. My labs originally used carbon disks, stopwatches and meter sticks. I have been trained in and currently use microcomputer based laboratory activities. I have made computerized review materials available. We use Interactive Physics simulations of laboratory activities and problems. I have developed a wide variety of demonstrations, stories and anecdotes that bring physics to life for my students.


4. Kunal Pujara, Highland Park High School, Highland Park, Illinois

Nomination

Kunal Pujara (10 years)
433 Vine Ave
Highland Park, IL 60035
765-224-2276
kpujara@dist113.org

nomination letter:

Kunal Pujara is an outstanding educator who truly deserves to have his abilities and efforts recognized in a formal way. Kunal is a very dedicated and hard-working professional. Each glimpse into Kunal's classroom provides me with another piece of evidence for why I would want my son or daughter to be his student. Students are given multiple examples along with visual and tactile demonstrations to assist students in their understanding. Problem solving and critical thinking are key components within his curriculum. Kunal's primary focus is to facilitate learning. He utilizes numerous teaching strategies and incorporates the use of technology in order to help students realize a deep understanding of each concept. Kunal is constantly offering assistance to teachers both within the department and building wide. He is extremely well-respected not only for his content knowledge but also for his passion for teaching and learning. Newer staff members and veterans alike utilize Kunal as a resource. Most recently, he has brought technology into a math classroom and collaborated with a math teacher to demonstrate oscillating motion. He used a logger pro, microphone, laptop computer, tuning fork, and strobe light as some of his „props‰ for the lesson. Kunal was very aware of being sure to present the information in a way that was not jargon-laden so that all of the students could understand what was happening. Once the concept was explained in a way that they could understand he began inserting terminology along with each explanation. By the end of the period, students were beginning to ask what a Hertz was and what else they would learn about in a physics class. Technology is a key component to Kunal's teaching. He has presented how technology is used within his classroom to our Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) and the District 113 School Board. During the Dedication Ceremonies of our new science wing, Kunal had set up stations for guest to play with as they toured our facilities. Kunal is a tremendous representative for physics instructors, our science department, and educators in general. His content knowledge, use of effective pedagogy, collaborative efforts, and constant desire to improve his teaching is all focused on one outcome - student learning. I offer my recommendation for Kunal for the Illinois Outstanding High School Physics Teacher Award without hesitation. He richly deserves this honor.

Nominated by:

Julie Felichio, Science Department Chairperson
jfelichio@dist113.org

Candidate Information

Kunal Pujara (11 years)
1433 Noyes Street
Highland Park, IL 60201
847-0475-1760
kpujara@dist113.org

Question 1:

The best way to demonstrate understanding is to teach someone else. On a daily basis in my AP Physics class, students present their homework solutions to the class. In AP Physics, every student demonstrates their understanding by leading the class in discussion at least 4 times during the quarter. My role as the „teacher‰ is to facilitate the discussion and to offer alternative solutions in problem solving. In my honors freshman physics class, 98% of the students have presented problems to their peers by the end of this semester. My students meet the goal of teaching their peers, which requires the student teachers to explain their thought process during problem solving.

I believe that physical concepts must be experienced and that scientific process is important. When conducting experiments, my students do not use „fill-in-the-blank‰ lab reports. The process of organizing, synthesizing, and analyzing the experiment is an essential component in understanding physics. If students have a strong foundation in the process of learning, then they can easily transfer this process to learn other content independently. Our honors freshman students have a deep understanding of basic mechanics principles because we spend most of the year on mechanics. At our school, we offer the AP Physics C course because we can study a few topics in real depth.

Question 2:

I am dedicated to my own learning and to my students‚ learning. I have incorporated technology in most aspects of my teaching. On the first day of class, I videotape all of my students as they introduce themselves to each other, and I study the tape that night so that I know all of their names the next day. I communicate with students and parents using e-mail and attached assignments and detailed weekly progress grade reports. Many of the labs that we conduct utilize LabPro technology with graphing calculators and computers to analyze the data. In my ongoing technology project, I am recording my honors freshman physics class every day to DVD and VHS formats. Over the past year and a half, this daily videotaping has benefited my students in many ways. When a student is absent, they can immediately obtain copies of content that they missed. If a student has special needs, they can review the videotape and take notes at their own pace. If a student wants to review material, they can borrow a tape or DVD to review a class or several classes. When I plan absences in my physics classes, I have often videotaped myself giving a lecture using demonstrations or conducting problem solving, so that the students will not needing to rely on a substitute who has no background in physics. Every outstanding teacher is dedicated to growth, and I am passionate about my own growth in the area of technology.

Question 3:

I‚m proud of the impact that my teaching has had on my students. I enjoy when students come back to visit me from college and tell me how my physics class helped them. When students go home and tell their parents about a classroom demonstration or discussion and the parents call me about it, I know that my students are excited about learning. I try to get the students excited and to think about physics in the world around them. I love the stories that students tell me when they try to replicate some of the demonstrations in class. After riding on a giant hovercraft in my classroom, one of my freshman physics students was so excited that he successfully built his own hovercraft that weekend. When students come back to me years later and recall some physics joke that I told, I know that physics has left an imprint in their mind. I want my students to enjoy and be challenged by my physics class.

Question 4:

In the past five years, I have continued my personal learning and growth through attending conferences, and participating in workshops. I have attended conferences for Teachers Teaching with Technology and AP Physics sessions at AP conferences (1998, 2000). As a member of Physics Northwest since 1996, I try to attend as many meetings as my personal schedule will allow. In the fall of 2000, I hosted a session of Physics Northwest at Highland Park High School. On February 8th, of 2005, we will be hosting another session of Physics Northwest at Highland Park High School. In the summer of 2000, I was the leader of a summer technology workshop for members of the science department. In the summer of 2002, I participated in a summer technology workshop for members of the science department. I have made presentations to my school's PTO, Long Range Planning committee and to our District 113 school board to showcase the science department's application of technology in laboratory experiments.

Question 5:

I have worked with other teachers in my building on projects with technology in the 2000-2001, and 2001-2002 school years. Our collaborative team consisted of a Physical Education teacher, a biology teacher and myself. Each member of our team incorporated probe technology in classroom experiments to enhance the learning experiences, and we presented our results to the faculty during a teacher in-service day. I provided assistance for the other members when they had difficulties with Power-point and web-page construction. During each of my 10 years at Highland Park High School, I have presented technology applications during science department meetings. During the fall of 2003, I served as a mentor teacher for Anne Van Lewen, who is a physics education major at Lake Forest college. She observed my classes and we discussed teaching strategies and philosophy on a weekly basis. On November 8th, I participated in a panel discussion at IIT for the Chicago section of AAPT in a discussion about "Physics First". My high school has implemented honors physics for freshmen students for over 30 years. Other schools like New Trier and Walter Payton high school have just started to try this out in the last few years. The perspectives from each school‚s representatives illuminated the difficulties associated with the transition from „traditional‰ sequence (biology, chemistry then physics) to the "new" sequence (physics, chemistry, then biology). My own growth has been enhanced as I collaborate with others in their growth.

Question 6:

I incorporate the state and national science teaching standards by including experiments and demonstrations that are designed to excite and elevate student interest in physics. When studying the acceleration due to gravity, between 1996 and 2002, we have dropped objects from the 4-story roof of our school. We videotaped the motion, and then students played back the motion frame-by-frame on a VCR and recorded the positions of the objects with a transparency. I made photocopies of the transparencies for each lab group, and they made position measurements. The students needed to understand how to convert from the measurements made from TV positions to the „real-world‰ so that they could determine the acceleration due to gravity in our reference frame. They used the quadratic regression function in their calculator, and than had to make the connection to the relationship that we were studying in class. The group turned in a write-up that included their procedure, data, analysis, discussion of sources of error, and suggestions for improvements. The group assessment also included a peer evaluation of the group dynamic and contributions. This kind of real-world lab is what motivates students and meets several of the state (11.A.5.a-d, 12.D.5.a ) and national standards (standards B, D, and E), and is one example of the kinds of labs that are used in my classes.

Question 7:

One of my teaching innovations came out of suggestions from my students. In the past, when studying projectiles, we used an analog videotaping method for determining the horizontal and vertical components of the acceleration of a projectile. We used to go outside and throw or kick projectiles, and videotape the motion. During the video playback, we encountered resolution problems because of the limitations of analog video. One of my students suggested using digital video, and then importing the digital video into frames that could be analyzed by Adobe Photoshop. During this school year, I have implemented this digital video method for all of my classes. We have found that the resolution using digital video at a high shutter speed has greatly improved resolution. Another teaching innovation this year also utilizes daily videotaping of my classes. This daily video log has helped my students review classes and has helped me to reflect on my teaching strategies. Next year, when I teach some of the same topics, I can review the DVD from the previous years and make improvements on my lesson plans and teaching strategies. In the future, I plan on creating a digital video library with the video so that students could access the video files from the school's intranet. These are examples of two innovations that I've worked on during this school year.


5.  Jay Smith, DeKalb High School, DeKalb, Illinois

Nomination

Jay Smith
DeKalb High School
DeKalb, IL 60115
815-756-4734
Jsmith@dist428.org

nomination letter:

I have known Jay for several years, and I have also known a number of his students, who speak highly of him as a teacher. Jay participated in an NSF-sponsored Teacher Enhancement program that I directed, and he was a very enthusiastic learner. In fact he wrote up one of the laboratory projects he worked on, and it was published in The Physics Teacher. He brings his physics class to our acoustics laboratory almost every year. Last summer he did an independent study project on Reverberation Time in the NIU Acoustics Laboratory. He loves students, and he coaches soccer at DeKalb high school. I am pleased to recommend him for the Teacher of the Year award.

Nominated by:

Thomas D. Rossing, Teacher and friend
rossing@physics.niu.edu

Candidate Information

Jay Smith (17 years)
125 Mattek Ave
DeKalb, IL 60115
815-756-4734
jsmith@dist428.org

Question 1:

I would like to create an environment where kids have experiences that lead to learning. Four of the areas in which I hope to help my students develop are applied mathematics, written communications, appropriate technology and problem solving.

Most of my students excel in all of their classes, especially mathematics. However, even the most gifted are often challenged when they have to apply their learned mathematical skills outside of the mathematics classroom. I hope to show them both the beautiful and practical sides of the language of mathematics.

Although my students are also talented at writing, they often find technical writing a task in which they are unfamiliar. I try to help students develop their technical writing skills as well as understand the publication process.

Most physics teachers have at their disposal technological devices that will collect and analyze data, and demonstrate and simulate phenomena. I try to use technology in the most efficient manner. I strive to make sure that the technology is there to serve the students in order to understand the physics rather than putting the technology first.

The application of physics concepts to real problems is more than a paper and pencil activity. I put an emphasis on students working with their hands to design, build and test projects with other students.

Question 2:

Since most high school physics teachers are the only physics teacher in their school it is hard to even know how one is different from other physics teachers, not to mention outstanding. However, I do feel that one of my greatest assets is my continued ability to learn, especially from and about my students. As a coach, athlete, musician and community member I have many interests in common with my students. This has given me many opportunities to associate with them outside of the classroom.

When I first started teaching I thought that the most important relationships were the ones in the text books like F=ma. What I have been learning recently is how much more important are the personal relationships I have with my students. I have come to understand and appreciate the saying, „No one will care how much you know until they know how much you care.‰ This I learned not only from my students but from the teachers of my own children. This has led me to make greater efforts in developing better relationships with my students and their parents. Because of these recent lessons I have learned, I really look forward to the second half of my teaching career.

Question 3:

Since I expect the impact my teaching has had on students will last long after I have lost contact with them, I can only hope for what that continuing impact will be. It has been nice to see students do well on the A.P. Physics Exam without the benefit of an A.P. Physics Course, graduate with physics related degrees from prestigious schools or even become physics teachers, but I gain a greater sense of accomplishment when I see former students lead a disciplined life. Regardless of the chosen field I rejoice hearing from students who are thankful they were well prepared for the next phase of their life.

Question 4:

Each of the past two summers I have taken six hours of physics courses at Northern Illinois University. These included an undergraduate course in Astronomy and graduate level independent studies in Room Acoustics, High Speed Photography and Holographic Interferometry. I have been more fortunate than most to live and work in a community with a university that has been willing to provide me with many great opportunities for professional development in the area of physics.

Question 5:

Teaching in DeKalb has allowed many student observers from Northern Illinois University to visit my classroom. For some of these students it is their first such experience.

This semester I am serving as a supervising teacher for an NIU student teacher. She is the fourth student teacher I have been able to work with.

In 1994 I was fortunate to have a short piece which I coauthored published in The Physics Teacher. I have another piece presently in the review process and a third I hope to finish shortly. In the past I have also been given the opportunity to serve as a referee for The Physics Teacher.

Question 6:

A couple of years ago the DeKalb High School Science Department spent the summer making sure our curriculum was aligned with the state standards. In brief we are able to accomplish these goals in the following ways.

Goal 11 - Standard A: Conducting experiments and the technical writing associated with those experiments.

Goal 11 - Standard B: Projects such as the catapult, pasta bridge, mouse trap car and the Rube Goldberg devise.

Goal 12 - Standard D: Teaching and testing on the following topics: waves, sound, light, electricity, magnetism, kinematics, dynamics, momentum, energy, rotational motion and simple harmonic motion.

Goal 13 - Standard A: Conducting experiments and the technical writing associated with those experiments.

Goal 13 - Standard B: Discussing the lives of the scientists who first discovered the basic physical laws that are taught in class.

Question 7:

Several years ago I started looking for ways to give more kids opportunities to learn about the physical world around them. One method was to develop a somewhat less intimidating course for those high school students with less interest in pure science. The result was the Physics of Sports & the Arts course. This course helps students see how basic physics principles apply to many areas of interest such as flying, boomerangs, billiards, bowling and other sports.It also takes a look at musical instruments and high speed photography.

Another method was to develop week long summer science camps for junior high age students. These camps included hands-on activities that would get kids interested in science and asking questions about the world around them.

A third method was to develop science activities where high school students could help elementary students understand and enjoy learning about the physical world.


6.  Joe Ruffolo, Leyden High School, Barrington, Illinois

Nomination

Joe Ruffolo
1000 Wolf Road
Northlake, IL 60164
847-451-3178
jruffolo@leyden212.org

nomination letter:

I wish to nominate Joe Ruffolo for the Illinois Outstanding Physics Teacher Award. Joe's commitment to our students engages his talents as a teacher, a counselor, a mentor and a coach. His Physics Honors classes excel as he motivates the students to learn about physics, conquer their fears of math and reach for goals that they would normally not set for themselves. His comprehensive approach makes the students look at who they are were they want to go. It is not uncommon to find Mr. Ruffolo with numerous students after school working on their studies but also seeking his advice for their burdens.

As a physics teacher, Mr. Ruffolo makes the necessary connections between the material and our students' lives showing the relevancy of the science. He challenges the students to be creative as they solve engineering problems proposed by the numerous competitions that our school participates in. Mr. Ruffolo's success with the Rube Goldberg competition has put our school's name out there as a worthy competitor.

Nominated by:

John R. Kmet
jkmet@leyden212.org

Candidate Information

Joe Ruffolo (15 years)
65 W. Mundhank Rd
South Barrington, IL 60010
847-426-6660
jruffolo@leyden212.org

Question 1:

I try to keep it simple. I believe physics is a great vehicle to use in improving the two most essential skills learned at the high school level; reading and problem solving. Most students will not become physics majors, in fact, few will remember the concepts taught in high school physics, but all students would benefit from my class if they were to improve the skills mentioned above.

Question 2:

I feel that I know my students well. I make the course challenging, but not unreasonable. During my tenure at Leyden, I have almost tripled the enrollment in physics and separated the curriculum into three levels included a newly added physics AP course. I believe my students enjoy the "hands on" approach that I use in teaching the material. Also, I always try to vary the activities I do with my students. I never lecture on successive days, instead I insert group work, or a lab to reinforce the current material before continuing with new material. I use common "real world" examples to describe physics and try to insert humor whenever possible. I constantly try to involve everyone in a lesson by using examples and/or questions that involve the students in the class. I find that including them in the discussion really keeps their attention.

Question 3:

During the past 15 years, I have taught approximately 1900 students. I still communicate with many of them. On their high school exit survey I am commonly mentioned as one of their most influential and competent teachers. As I evaluate my students, I notice improvement in both their reading and problem solving skills as the year progresses. I have also noticed that my students are more prone to putting in the effort in this class because they realize the amount of effort I put into helping them learn and how much I care about their success. Furthermore, I don't believe in nagging my students, but I make them fully aware of my expectations . I believe that every single one of my students is an intelligent and capable person who can accomplish whatever they choose and for some of my students, all they need is someone to truly believe in them.

Question 4:

I have taught technology integration courses NCSA (National Center for Supercomputing Applications). I have taught visualization courses for the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, and I have taught education courses for Loyola University in Chicago. I have attended and presented at several national conferences in both physics and computer technology. Finally, on January 21st, I will present the final defense for my doctoral dissertation, concluding my Ph.D.

Question 5:

All of the university courses I have taught during the past decade (about 12 semester courses total) have been geared toward the professional development of teachers. Most of the courses were designed to help the teacher integrate technology into the existing curriculum. In addition, I served on a national panel for NSTA (National Science Teachers Association). The members of this panel were asked to evaluate Web materials and select sites that would be appropriate for a variety of age levels. The SciLinks system used in many science text books to reference supplemental Web material was developed through this program.

Question 6:

My curriculum is completely aligned with the teaching standards. In my district, we are required to submit forms with the standards, and all classroom materials used to meet each of the standards. I think as a high school science teacher your goal should be to prepare students to move on. If a standard set of expectations are met in a high school class, success at the university level is more likely.

Question 7:

I do not give students points for homework. I believe once you are qualified to be in a physics class that you are a college-bound student that can cope with this policy change. I feel that assigning points for homework motivates students to copy and causes them to lose sight of its purpose. I believe that homework should be designed to help prepare students for exams (the model used in most universities). Also, I include several engineering projects into my curriculum. At Leyden, we do not have a high school level engineering survey course so my goal in assigning these building project is to expose my students to the opportunities available to them when they leave Leyden.


7.  Joshua Oladipo, Chicago Public Schools, Chicago, Illinois

Nomination

Joshua Oladipo (5 years)
1313 S. Sacramento
Chicago, IL 60623
773-534-1500

nomination letter:

Joshua Oladipo is an outstanding and dedicated Physics teacher. He works in a school that is plagued with many of the socio-economic problems found in an inner city school. Yet, instead of turning his back on the school and its students and seeking a "better" position, he embraces its problems and encourages his students to succeed. Mr. Oladipo understands the importance of education and the impact it had on making his and his families' life better.

Mr. Oladipo tries to instill in his students the importance of education as a means to not only make themselves better but also the community. Even though Mr. Oladipo does not realize it, he is a great example to our students. He came from similar beginnings and feels he can make a difference with our students. Mr. Oladipo is not only a great Physics teacher but also a great man and teacher. Education was his way out and he wants it to be his students way out.

Nominated by:

Carlo Esguerra
CPSmathteacher@gmail.com

Candidate Information

Joshua O. Oladipo (16 years - 5th year with Chicago Public Schools)
7554 W. Bryn Mawr Avenue
Chicago, IL 60631
773-775-3231
c646597@hotmail.com

Question 1:

My teaching philosophy is to passionately meet the different learning needs of all students. This is because students' interest in Physics and related discipline continue to be on the decline based on the falling enrollment figures. Also, the academic 'elite' status given to subject like Physics place it on the negative perception of urban school students. To reverse this trend, the role of a passionate teacher who will be able to connect with the students and also provide them with standard curriculum cannot be over emphasis.

Over the years, I have seen that before students learn from you they need to be able to trust the teacher, believe in the teacher, and feel at home in the classroom. Then, the teacher will be able to motivate, sustain and continuously facilitate an engaged learning environment. Although the socio-economic background is important, I believe the last straw that can make the needed change is the teacher. A passionate teacher will meet these needs and be filled with joy as he/she see the students defy all odds by taking learning to a new level each passing day.

Teachers ought to be abreast with recent developments and skills. Introducing such issues in class is a strong method of pushing the students to get pass the limit. Attend workshops, research programs, and science workshops is a wise idea.

Question 2:

First, I am well trained in the subject matter with a master degree in Physics (University of Illinois at Chicago), and a master of education (DePaul University). I have been passionate with teaching my students at Collins High School in Chicago for the past four and half years when many others with similar training, and experience will not even accept the posting due to the negative academic image of the school.

During this year of teaching, the number of the students becoming successful in science studies, and science project competition is encouraging.

In addition to teaching standard physics curriculum, I attend research programs to be able to introduce the students to cutting edge scientific issues.

In the science department, I have been a motivating force to other teachers by humbly supporting their endeavors with my deeper knowledge and training so as to be able to reach out to other students outside my classroom.

Students had nominated me for performance awards.

Question 3:

As a result of my teaching and general interactions with the students, more students have become increasingly enthusiastic with science learning. Many are willing to accept a life of career in science. For most others, their mathematics and scientific literacy continue to rise and others continue to win medals in science fair competitions. The impact on them could best be summarized in their own words "Mr. Oladipo make this stuff real easy, and I am now very smart".

Question 4:

A list of the professional development activities include 2004/5 Research Experience for Teachers, Institute of Nanotechnology, Northwestern University, October 2004, June 2005.

2004 Research Experience for Teachers, Institute of Nanotechnology, Northwestern University. - June -August.

2004 High School That Works National Conference, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

2001 DePaul -NASA educational outreach program Activities

2000 CPS Teacher renewal Program

Question 5:

I often work with other teachers to develop common curriculum, and assessment strategies. I also serve as an unofficial resource person in helping colleagues in the areas of mathematics and integration of recent scientific development into classroom curriculum.

Question 6:

All my lessons are aligned with the state and national goals and standards. The students are encouraged to undertake in-depth investigative projects with applications to their community. An example of such project is "Pollution studies". I also use technology, and common items to provide engaging activities for the students. The students are allowed to take their knowledge beyond the classroom into real life.

Question 7:

Technology is integrated into my teaching. Calculators and wireless laptop computers are always made accessible to the students. The instruction relies on variety of techniques including scaffolding, group method, laboratory works and a host of others to gain the attention of the students. I look forward to enlisting some of my students in the research experience for high school students program, and also collaborating with external scientific agencies to ensure that the students experience interactions with professionals in the different areas of science.


8.  James Megenhardt, Tri-Point High School, Cullom, Illinois

Nomination

Mr. James Megenhardt has been a full time Science teacher at Tri-Point High School for the past two years. His courses included junior and senior Physics classes as well as Chemistry, Physical Science and Math. Where he not only taught but also developed the curriculum. Discipline was never an issue in Mr. Megenhardt's classroom for learners were consistently engaged in their work. He also kept in contact with parents and administrators about students with declining grades or that met a new achievement.

In addition, Mr. Megenhardt has prepared student success on the ACT and Prairie State Achievement Exam (Illinoisâ state achievement test). Even in his limited time teaching the class, the students have shown significant improvement on these critical exams. Beyond the classroom, he was the sponsor for the scholastic bowl and track team. All tasks, from teaching to extra-curricular activities, were accomplished with high competency and enthusiasm while keeping students interested and involved.

As a staff member, Mr. Megenhardt also was an active member of the Tri-Point team. He participated on numerous committees, including being a dynamic member of our Districtâs Curriculum Mapping team. Due to his vast abilities to work with students and teachers, He has remarkable ideas and is able to gain respect of all those around him.

It is clear that Mr. Megenhardt truly cares about teaching. He very rarely missed a day and was always around before and after school either helping students or preparing for future lessons. This dedicated work ethic, among all his other strengths, will make Mr. Megenhardt a reliable candidate for this award. If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely, Peter T. Pearson, Tri-Point High School Principal
815-689-2110

Candidate Information

James Megenhardt (5 years - 1993 to 1996 and 2003 to 2005)
P.O. Box 83
Cullom, IL 60929
815-689-2189
jdm61802@yahoo.com

Question 1:

"Your best is all I ask for." I do not focus on all my students getting A's or passing, rather did the student give all they could. I want my students to not only leave my class knowing Physics, but also feeling like they have achieved something because they have pushed themselves to their limit. Learning is like weight lifting. You work your way up to higher weights by pushing your body gradually and consistently. Our minds also have to be pushed to grow. As teacher, I have to understand how hard a student should push their minds and help them to use their minds consistently.

Question 2:

What makes my philosophy on physics as a class different from most is that I want it to help students not only cross over to college, but also their every day lives. Many physics teachers only think about their students going off to college, which is where many of them do wind-up going. And, I do gear my student towards college by structuring the class similar to a college level class with lectures every other day and week long labs every two or three weeks. However, I also want to give my student real life and practical experience. One way I do this is by incorporating what ever I can from their every day lives into the class; Softball and test taking are not both work?, What does bond energy have to do with starch becoming fat?, etc. Another is that I have the students work many word problems in a group effort. This not only helps sharpen their minds for solving problems, but helps them develop social skills necessary to reach a solution with others.

Question 3:

This really would be best answered by some of my past students. I can only restate some of the things they have told me. "The hands on labs were very helpful at college. I was the only person in our lab group which knew how to do the experiment." "Thanks for taking time to have us do labs. I would have had no idea how to handle them at college with out the experience." "The team homework helped. I don't feel bad asking others in class now when I am not sure what is going on."

Question 4:

Tri-Point being a small school, I fill several shoes; Scholastic Bowl sponsor, Track Coach, and well as teacher of math, chemistry, physical science, and physics. The only improvements I make on regular bases are to try to take classes every year which some how relate to one of my fields. In the last three years I have taken an organic chemistry, statistics, forensics, and computer programming classes. I also seek out workshops to improve the environment of the class. The last six months, I have been putting to practice what I learned at a hazardous waste workshop by organizing MSDS, removing over hazardous materials, rewriting labs to reduce waste, and repacking poorly packed chemicals.

Question 5:

Again Tri-Point is a very small school. I am the physical science department, so I don't really help any other physical science teachers. The only ways I have been of any service to other teachers with regards to their development is to answer questions when ever I can. I try to make myself available to the new teachers, as well as veterans. If there is something I can help with, I do. If there is a question I can answer, I do. And, if I don't know, then I try to point them in the right direction.

Question 6:

The standards are and are not important. They are important in the sense that they give us a base line which can be useful for assessing how students; and schools; are doing. However, they are not the only important thing in teaching, after all there are no standards which say a student should have confidence. I try to incorporate our standards two ways. First, we use a curriculum mapper which allows us to not only plot our lesson plans and objectives, but also list the standards that are being meet by each lesson. Second, I try to find labs which engage the students on a skill level, and not just memory.

Question 7:

My method of innovation actually starts on day one. We start by looking at how we prove something as true, looking at scientific, logical, and historical methods. From there we enter physics by discussing experimentation, to measuring, to motion, to force, to work, etc, etc. I don't feel it is appropriate to introduce a new idea, but rather build upon an existing knowledge. I make every effort to connect our next topic to any and all past topics which we have addressed. I also try to connect the topic to every day applications. For example, when we discussed points of reference, I left the field of physics and entered the field of psychology, showing the students how their own experience; point of reference; helps them to make decisions and judgment calls.


9.  Daniel Chissus, Naperville, Illinois

Nomination

Daniel R. Chissus
2109 dorval Drive
Naperville, Illinois 60565
630-961-2267
dchissus@Juno.com

Name of person nominating candidate:
Nickey Walker, Fellow physics enthusiast
nkebort-walker@att.net

It is with pleasure and admiration that I nominate Daniel Chissus for the Outstanding High School Physics teacher award. He has taught for 25 years. Dan is always the first one to arrive in the building and is frequently the last to leave after school. He is dedicated to assisting his students and believes in being accessible.

Dan believes in teaching each concept with a demonstration. His scholars have been the beneficiaries of his willingness to lie on the bed on nails and have students smash a cinderblock on his chest. They have also enjoyed the "glowing pickle" and the levitation of a squirrel pelt (with a little help from the Van de Graff generator). Dan, of course, skinned the squirrel himself.

Dan also believes in supporting his fellow physics teachers. He recently assisted two colleagues in their quest to build a "monkey gun" to demonstrate projectile motion. He sacrificed his free period and time after school to unravel wires, wrap electromagnets, and construct the gun. Such a set up would have cost $641 from the Pasco catalogue.

His scholars have been the state champions, for 3 successive years, in the Argonne sponsored Rube Goldberg Contest. The team often sacrifices sleep in the final days of the competition.

Candidate Information

Daniel R. Chissus (24.5 years)
2109 Dorval Drive
Naperville, IL 60565
630-961-2267
dchissus@juno.com

Question 1:

Schools are the strongest force in shaping the lives of people outside the home, and in some cases, even greater than the home. Thus, they have a large influence in shaping the society in which we live. The purpose of education is to teach an individual to think for himself, and to continue seeking truth after he is finished with formal education. Education should guide the student in reaching his full potential to enjoy life and be prepared to live happily and productively in society.

Question 2:

I enjoy working with students and have a good rapport with them. I am able to relate easily and naturally to students, parents, and school personnel. I have a good sense of humor, but also know when it is important to remain serious. I know my subject matter well and can communicate it clearly. I strive to stay updated on new scientific developments, and use the outside information to supplement the curriculum. I am not afraid to try new teaching methods and materials. My well-developed mechanical ability enhances my physics teaching. I teach well-managed classes. I am flexible and can improvise. I am enthusiastic. I perform many demonstrations, and offer hands-on activities that cause students to think physics; wonder how things work, and learn more about the orderly universe we live in. I enjoy encouraging scientific interest in youth.

Question 3:

Numerous students, present and past, tell me of things they wonder about related to physics - many things that they had not thought of before. One definition of physics is a purposeful interrogation of the universe. It is exciting when students ask how, what, or why do things do what they do?  Many of my students have continued on in physics or other science related fields of study. I believe that even those who have not, have learned to see the world a little differently because they are able to think physics and know more of the "rules of the game".

Question 4:

I have taken an AP Physics training class at Illinois Wesleyan University. During the class, I was also able to share many of my demonstrations with teachers who had not had the years of experience that I have had. I am a member of the American Association of Physics Teachers (since 1984). I glean many ideas from The Physics Teacher magazine. This past week, I made a device featured in the magazine to demonstrate the force that air pressure can exert. I have also participated in physics workshops at a local junior college. I consider interaction with my fellow teachers professional development. Whether it is learning new applications of electronic technology, or classroom management, these interactions can cause one to continue developing professionally

Question 5:

For many years, I was the only physics teacher at my school. As the school has grown, new physics teachers have been added. I have worked closely with them to help them effectively teach physics. I have supervised student teachers who have gone on to become successful physics teachers. Last year, I mentored another teacher in our science department who had not taught physics. She watched me teach a class, then she taught the next period. This year, I am working with a person who is a former electrical engineer, who is on a fast track to getting his teaching certificate in physics, but has not student taught. I enjoy sharing my experience, ideas, and toys with these people to help them make physics real and enjoyable to their students.

Question 6:

I believe that if a person works at accomplishing a primary goal of education, that of Teaching and Learning, he will automatically exceed the state and national standards that have been set. Many of the standards reflect previous educational goals, written, or otherwise. I have not done anything differently to incorporate specific state or national standards into my teaching. I continue to work at presenting physics in an exciting, understandable manner. Certain topics may have to be presented or explained several ways to meet individual learning styles and/or needs. By teaching well, and with appropriate student effort, state and national standards will be met.

Question 7:

As I mentioned above, I do many demonstrations that cause my students to think. I make many of the „tools‰ used in my demonstrations. Just a few include: the bed of nails demonstration, tennis ball cannon, flaming sound wave, bowling ball pendulum, total internal reflection of light in a stream of water (The water traps the light when the water containing sodium hydroxide strikes the bottom of a clear container with a little phenolphthalein in the bottom.), various inertia demonstrations, ballistic pendulum, vacuum powered cannon, human electric equipotential detector, and the classic monkey and hunter demonstration. Beyond traditional physics teaching, I have also taught physics mini-courses for homeschool students and performed many physics demonstrations at a homeschool meeting of adults and children. I also sponsored/coached three Illinois State Champion Rube Goldberg Machine teams.


10.  Sarah Fay, Zion-Benton Township High School, Park City, Illinois

Nomination

Sarah Fay (5 years)
4118 Greenleaf Ct #301
Park City, IL 60085
847-662-5798
fays@zbths.org

nomination letter:

I have been Sarah's direct supervisor/chair for the last two years at Zion-Benton Township High School. Sarah teaches both AP Physics and regular Physics. In the time that I have observed her teaching, she has excelled in the art of teaching Physics. Her classroom is always engaging with the use of manipulatives and demonstrations that get her kids involved with the lesson. In teaching of AP Physics B, her students have scored on average a score of 3.44 out of a 5 point scale. Sarah is always here before and after school to help students through physics homework. This type of dedication in seeing students succeed and providing a high quality of content delivery is not seen in all teachers.

I believe Sarah would be an excellent candidate for this award because of her dedication to the teaching of Physics and her commitment to students.

Nominated by:

Rodney Winslow, Science Department Chair
winslowr@zbths.org

Candidate Information

Sarah Fay (6.5 years)
4118 Greenleaf Court
Park City, IL 60085
847-662-5798
fays@zbths.org

Question 1:

I believe that the main goal of education is to help students develop into young adults who have a sense of self-confidence so that they not only know the subject area I have taught them, but they have also developed problem-solving skills that will carry over into various aspects of life. To accomplish this, I must understand students‚ natures, how they develop, and their different learning styles.

Students are rational, interactive, moral, and creative beings, seeking logic and order in the world. I believe that all people are created in God‚s image, and therefore are valuable and unique. I believe that we all tend to do what is wrong, though, and therefore part of a teacher‚s job is to teach (and model to the best of our ability) morality.

I believe that children go through cognitive stages of development, as Piaget theorized. Every student develops abstract thinking skills at their own rate, and some may be able to comprehend more complex ideas than others. I need to know where each student is along the developmental spectrum in order to more effectively teach the class as a whole.

People have different abilities and strengths in the way they learn. As a teacher, I need to vary my teaching style to address the seven different learning styles. I believe that every person is able to learn from all the different types, but for an individual one learning style may be stronger than the others. It is important to develop in all seven learning styles in students.

Question 2:

Physics was a difficult subject for me to learn, and so I have had to simplify the material in many ways to be able to understand it. I think this has been one of my greatest assets as a teacher, because I am able to state extremely difficult material in a way that is understandable to a wide range of students. While making difficult concepts attainable, I also do my best to make the class enjoyable. Whenever possible, I bring up topics I know individuals are interested in or encourage the students to join in the discussion, bringing up points of interest that relate to what we are learning. Many times the students perform hands-on activities that enhance the lesson in some way. I will often use a cartoon or a joke to help engage the students and increase their interest in the lesson. I try to vary the way I teach, such that each student should find one activity that best addresses his/her learning style.

Question 3:

There have been several students who have maintained contact with me after they had graduated. One student found himself tutoring other students in his college physics course, because he had a much stronger foundation in the subject than his colleagues had. I have received e-mails from previous students telling me how easy their first year of physics was because of what they had learned in high school. I have enjoyed hearing from those who plan on making the subject their major!

Most recently I received an e-mail from a student who stated: „I just wanted to write you and let you know that you are the best teacher that I've ever had (and by the way things are looking so far, the best teacher that I ever will have).‰ I have felt honored to receive these types of notes throughout the six years I have been teaching.

My students are very dear to me, and my hope is that I have impacted them in ways beyond teaching them the material in Physics. There are students who have maintained contact with me throughout college. One student in particular was unlikely to graduate from high school because of difficult circumstances, but she did graduate at the end of last year and is now thriving in college. This is likely due in-part to the guidance that I was able to offer her over the past two years.

Question 4:

I am in my second year of working toward a Master‚s in Educational Leadership at Northeastern Illinois University. In the past I have gone to various workshops, conventions, and classes to continually grow as a teacher. While teaching AP Physics, I attended a one-day workshop to hone my skills, which was in addition to a week-long course I took at Purdue to prepare for teaching AP Physics. I have participated in school in-service days, including the county-wide event at Six Flags and the School Improvement Planning days in my high school. Annually, I had attended the NSTA national convention, until it was no longer supported by my high school.

There have been a couple of summers when I had the chance to learn about how physics is applied in the work-place. I participated in a program at Abbott Laboratories in which I shadowed employees in the Calibration Department at two different locations. I also had the opportunity to spend a summer conducting research at Northwestern University in the Materials Research Department. This was part of the REST (Research Experience for Science Teachers) program. In conjunction with this opportunity, I attended a workshop in Boston a couple of months ago which furthered my knowledge of this subject and extended its use in the classroom.

Question 5:

I am currently involved in a mentoring program at my high school, in which I am mentoring a newer (2nd year) science teacher. As part of the program we meet regularly to discuss various aspects of teaching, and I help guide this person through classroom observations, which are followed by my giving feedback regarding the lesson.

Last year I was working with another physics teacher in the department, and I often found myself offering him much assistance regarding how to teach various topics in physics. I helped him develop several different strategies for teaching difficult concepts that we covered throughout the year. While working collaboratively with another physics teacher, I was also involved in mentoring a teacher who was new to the school. This program was less formal than the one we currently have in place, but we met and discussed teaching strategies throughout the year.

Question 6:

In writing the curriculums for Physics and AP Physics, I aligned every lesson with the state and national science teaching standards. I have found that some of the topics covered in Physics extend beyond the scope of these standards, but most of the material is considered appropriate for late high school students. There are occasions in class when I indicate to students the importance of what we are learning with regard to state standards or how a topic will affect standardized tests the students may encounter in the future.

Question 7:

No response.


11.  Michael Gebhard, Bloomington High School, Bloomington, Illinois

Nomination

Michael Gebhard
617 East Chestnut
Bloomington, IL 61701
829-9754
gebhardm@district87.org

Mike is an excellent Physics teacher who truly engages the students in the study of physics. He uses every available resource (Barbie Dolls to eggs to "class by candlelight" etc...)and it is his creativeness that gets students to actively participate and become truly involved in their own learning. In addition, you can always see him here before and after school helping students in any way they need help. He is a gifted teacher who knows how to use his knowledge to increase the knowledge of others in the most interesting ways.

Nominated by:

Cindy Helmers, BHS Principal
helmersc@district87.org

Candidate Information

Michael Gebhard (20 years)
Bloomington High School
Bloomington, IL 61701
309-828-5201
gebhardm@district87.org

Question 1:

My philosophy is to encourage student interest in physics by showing students how physics applies to their world. Topics of interest to students are pursued in a way that makes the class meaningful, enjoyable, and wide-ranging. I also believe it is important to challenge students and to provide an atmosphere in the classroom that encourages scientific thought and practice. This means, among other things, a questioning atmosphere is encouraged and students are given a chance to reflect upon the ideas of physics.

Question 2:

I believe I communicate with students in a way that makes physics understandable, relevant, and interesting. Students are encouraged to present their ideas and class room activities are designed to promote this sharing of ideas. Laboratory activities and classroom discussion promotes inquiry on the part of students and students are encouraged to pursue their ideas.

Question 3:

Many of my former students have continued their science education in college and several have gotten advanced degrees in physics. However, I think the biggest impact I have had upon students is build a picture of science in students' minds that depicts it as a human endeavor, constantly changing, and important to our humanity in practical, philosophical, and historical ways.

Question 4:

I have recently received National Board Certification in Physics. In addition I have taken classes at Illinois State University that is designed to promote best practices in the teaching of physics. This course has proved helpful in numerous ways. I try to attend national and regional science teacher conventions.

Question 5:

This I have done by assisting new teachers in my building and by being a cooperating teacher with Illinois State University's physics student teachers.

Question 6:

Our school district insists that state guidelines related to content areas, inquiry, and technology be incorporated into our curricula. I whole-heartedly agree with the state standards because if followed, they present science as a way of thinking rather than a collection of simple facts about the world.

Question 7:

I tend to borrow ideas I like. Thus my classroom uses methods that have been shown in studies to be effective teaching practices. As far as innovations on my part, I try to incorporate students' individual talents or interests into my classroom. Students who are interested in art for example, are given opportunities to use their gifts to have a positive influence on the class, or students who have skills in technology are given opportunities to use these talents. I am also proud of the many interactive physics simulations I have written that allow for inquiry on the part of students. These have transformed this computer program from a simple demonstration tool into a true problem solving and inquiry science education tool.


12.  Nicholas Drozdoff, New Trier High School, Glencoe, Illinois

Nomination

Nicholas Drozdoff

I don't know this candidate very well, so consider it a "weak" nomination, needing corroboration from colleagues closer to the candidate. Hence the weak information in the spaces above. What I do know is that Nick has worked tirelessly to promote the Physics Olympiad in Illinois for several years. Last year he introduced me to the process by invitation, since he had a conflict and could not be a judge himself. Usually he is the lead judge. From my one brief experience in the program, I regard the Physics Olympiad very highly. It stimulates much creative and careful work by high school students. Unfortunately, I cannot comment on Nick's work as a classroom H.S. teacher, nor on his participation in the ISAAPT activities. That's where corroboration is necessary. Perhaps you have other worthy candidates aplenty. I just wanted you to have at least one candidate in circulation.

Nominated by:

Dave Cornell, Collaborator in Physics Olympiad
dcorn@prin.edu

Candidate Information

Nick Drozdoff (12 years)
418 Jackson Avenue
Glencoe, IL 60022
847-835-1210
drozdofn@newtrier.k12.il.us

Question 1:

I don't necessarily think of my students as empty slates that I somehow have to fill up. I think of them as all being inherently capable of great good, and that my job is to help them realize how good they already are. I believe that anyone can achieve high levels of understanding of physics by utilizing their own unique skills. In short, I expect some sort of good from every young person in my classes. I do so with a sense of joy, and I think kids respond well to this high level of expectation. They also love the sense of fun this all brings about.

Question 2:

I feel uncomfortable in answering this question as it is worded. I don't know how outstanding that I am. However, I try to teach my classes in a very Socratic fashion. I use the Modeling Methods of Teaching Physics as developed by Wells, Hestenes and Swackhammer, though I have hybridized my own ideas into the system. I also use music as a lynch pin in my courses. I try to make as many connections to music as possible, as I feel that kids connect very well to this. The culminating unit for my classes is the big musical instrument project in which kids use the physics we've learned to design and build some sort of musical instrument or take an existing instrument and develop a presentation on the physical acoustics of the instrument. They love it, and it helps keep them engaged throughout the year. Finally, I approach my classes as a "weird uncle" who loves physics and music; not as "heir professor." The kids learn to trust my interest in their well being as a family member would.

Question 3:

I have had many students go into engineering as a result of our work together. One young man (when I was still at Zion-Benton) had been written off as too difficult to deal with because of raging ADD. His former teachers told me to keep him away from them and that he would never succeed. Well, I wouldn't accept that. He took physics and APC physics from me. He went on to get his MS in electrical engineering. I was so happy to witness this development. This young man was extremely bright. Some folks couldn't see past his challenges. I'm grateful I was able to. I also have had students (here at NTHS) actually change their direction in life and major in physics after sitting through my classes. Again, I'm grateful to have been witness to that, though I would argue that I just enabled him to do what he was already were capable of.

Question 4:

I have taken Paula Rutherford classes, though my biggest achievement was the completion of my second masters degree in Physics/Teaching with Gerry Lietz at DePaul. This has been along and arduous process for me due to family challenges and my continued work as a full time professional musician (I still play between 100 and 150 gigs per year). The challenge to finish was daunting if I wasn't to impact my family to negatively. My gratitude to the patience of my wife and kids as well as to the support of Dr. Lietz, knows no bounds. My final paper, incidentally, was on using music in teaching high school physics.

Question 5:

I have a rather large involvement with music on the internet. However, most folks know that I work as a high school physics teacher. I have had occasion to be contacted by people seeking a career in teaching after hearing of my experiences. In every case, I enthusiastically encourage them to teach physics. One gentleman in Iowa, as a result of our contact, has just finished student teaching and will be taking over his own rural physics program as a result. I was thrilled to hear of his work. Interestingly enough, this gentleman is a trumpeter who happened to be a subscriber to the same trumpeters listserv that I was on. Our off-list contacts were exclusively about teaching, however. This was a very interesting experience. he still contacts me, occasionally.

Question 6:

The closest thing I have done with this is the use of the Modeling Methods in Teaching Physics. We have also been involved at NTHS in dealing with these standards, as a department. As a result, I have been working harder at helping my students learn good experimental technique. I a m also passionate about having the students use their existing understanding of mathematics in an applied sense with graphical analysis. They use graphical analysis to develop mathematical models for the phenomenon they are studying.

Question 7:

The most significant "innovation" that I would claim, would be the connections to music. I have been striving to draw connections in every unit back to music. For example, in our unit on kinematics, we use motion maps and spark tape, and relate them to samplers and sampling algorhythms in music (though I keep the language much simpler than this. They all seem to have a feel for musical sample rates, so it is fun to show that this process of sampling data periodically (position versus time, for example) is virtually the same thing. Only the processing of the information changes.