ISAAPT Outstanding High School
Physics Teacher Nominations
2005-2006

The following information pertains to the 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 Cliff Parker (cparker@charter.net) by March 10, 2006.  Please number your choices.

 1.  Sarah Fay, Zion-Benton Township High School, Park City
 2.  Troy Gobble, Riverside-Brookfield High School, Riverside
 3.  Sandy Gooder, Tricity High School, Buffalo
 4.  Bruce Keyzer, Auburn High School, Rockford
 5.  Kunal Pujara, Highland Park High School, Highland Park
 6.  Jay Smith, DeKalb High School, DeKalb
 7.  Daniel Chissus, Naperville
 8.  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.


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

Nomination

Sarah Fay (6 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 (7.5 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.


2.  Troy Gobble, Riverside-Brookfield High School, Riverside

Nomination

Troy Gobble (14 years)
2452 South 3rd Avenue
North Riverside, IL 60546
708-642-0070

I am pleased to nominate Troy Gobble, Science Department Chair of Riverside Brookfield High School and Physics Teacher Par Excellence, for the Illinois Outstanding High School Physics Teacher Award. While I am not sure that he would agree with the quote by Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937; British physicist), "All science is either physics or stamp collecting", I have no doubt that many of his students would after having the Troy Gobble experience.

What makes the magic in his classroom? His ability to relate to his students, his hunger to stay current with the new ideas in his field, his talent for turning arcane concepts into living ideas and experiments that often spill out into the hallways and courtyards of the school. His departmental leadership is the bedrock of their collegiality and increased academic achievement. He sets a high standard by example, not mandate. Troy is the consummate team player as is evidenced by his work on our Leadership Council. He can always be counted on to join with all departments to ensure the academic success of RB students. On a personal level, I can attest that he is one of the most pleasant and caring individuals I have worked with in my career.

Nominated by:

Tim Scanlon
tscanlon@rbhs208.org

Candidate Information

Troy Gobble (14 years)
2452 S. 3rd Ave
North Riverside, IL 60546
708-642-0070
tgobble@rbhs208.org

Question 1:
Physics is an amazing subject because it is so basic; you can use physics to describe almost all observable phenomena. I believe my job as a physics teacher is to remind students what it means to wonder about the world. To achieve this, all physics ideas must be presented within their real life context. Once students are caught up in curiosity about how the world works, they can not help but learn.

Question 2:
I am passionate about physics. I believe I demonstrate this passion to the students every day. It is not enough to introduce gravity as a force and drop a ball as a demonstration; I take them outside and throw a TV form the roof of our school. I bring the concepts into students lives. I tell the students I know when I have done my job well because you will come into class and say something like "I was thinking about physics while driving last night, or I was thinking about your class as I watched a movie yesterday."  I also focus on having the students create things that demonstrate physics concepts, such as: a cardboard boat for students to paddle across the pool, a totally edible car, catapults, shoes that will enable the students to walk on eggs, and homemade musical instruments.

Question 3:
Many of my students have gone on to pursue physics degrees, but I am especially proud to have had four of these students present talks at various spring meetings of the ISAAPT. I have had five former students decide to pursue a career in physics education. A few months ago, a student in the Education program at the University of Illinois sent me a note. She said she had decided to become a teacher because she "had never seen anyone enjoy their job as much as you. I want a job like that."

When I arrived at Riverside-Brookfield High School, there were four physics classes with a total enrollment of 75 students. This is my fifth year, and we are currently running 11 physics sections, with an enrollment of 227. My belief is that physics should be available to all students, not just the most talented.

Question 4:
In 2000, I completed a Masters Program at Eastern Illinois University in Natural Science (Physics). I was chosen as the Outstanding Physics Graduate student in 2000, and my thesis "Characterization of Cosmic Microwave Background Temperature Fluctuations for Cosmological Topologies Specified by Topological Betti Numbers" was chosen the outstanding Master's Thesis for the entire university in 2001. I completed a master's degree in Educational Leadership from Benedictine University in 2003. I have attended many ISAAPT meetings, ISTA meetings, and two national NSTA meetings.

Question 5:
I taught a graduate class on problem based learning at my high school last year. The class had 15 teachers enrolled; including Math, English, Art and Science teachers. I wanted the class to be meaningful for the teachers, so each teacher had to create 3 complete PBL lessons for use in their classes. It was easy to help the physics and chemistry teachers to develop ideas, but I loved the challenge of helping teachers from other disciplines.

I was elected to the ISAAPT council in 2003.

I hosted the fall 2005 joint meeting of the Chicago and Illinois sections of the AAPT. The focus of this meeting was teaching physics, and to that end we created a new type of talk, an Active Learning presentation designed to explain how teachers get their students to do physics.

Question 6:
I have focused on the process of science in my physics classes over the past few years. Students not only learn about Mechanics, Electromagnetism and Thermodynamics, I want them to leave my room understanding the way science is done. I ensure the students understand the peer review process, are able to create a complete lab on their own, and present their findings to a group. I believe these are the science standards that are too often ignored.

Question 7:
I like to create messy problems for my students to solve. Currently, my students are working on an exit ramp problem. The students must create general equations for the bank angle and radius of an exit ramp. They use these equations to choose a bank angle and radius for a hypothetical off-ramp, factoring in weather, driving speeds, cost of land, safety, etc. I teach the students to use an Excel spreadsheet, and they are able to try lots of number combinations to find their perfect off-ramp dimensions. There are a correct set of equations, but there is no correct answer to the problem, only correct explanations for why they chose the numbers they did. I think this type of problem forces the students to really understand the underlying physics principles in the problem. I have created other messy problems concerning: creating a log flume ride, firing cannonballs, energy involved in popping popcorn, building a telescope, and setting up the Holiday lights around the town square.


3.  Sandy Gooder, Tricity High School, Buffalo

Nomination

Sandy Gooder (8 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 (9 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.


4. 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 (32 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.


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

Nomination

Kunal Pujara (11 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 (12 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.  During my daily videotaping last year, my AP physics students and I discovered a new way to represent mechanical waves.  In the January, 2006 issue of The Physics Teacher, I published an article called "Video Feedback Demonstration of Mechanical Waves."   At the end of the article, I included an acknowledgement to my 2004-2005 AP physics students for their curiosity while videotaping.  These AP students were proud of our discovery and of their contribution to the physics teaching community.

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, I hosted 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 inservice 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.  Next year, I plan on creating an online digital video library so that students could download the video files from a web server.  These are examples of two innovations that I've worked on during this school year.


6.  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 (18 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.


7.  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 (25.5 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.


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

Nomination

Nick Drozdoff has worked tirelessly to promote the Physics Olympiad in Illinois for several years. Two years ago 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.

Nominated by:

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

Candidate Information

Nick Drozdoff (13 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 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.