ISAAPT Outstanding High School
Physics Teacher Nominations
2009-2010

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 February 28, 2010.  Please number your choices.

 1.  Jim Campbell, Riverdale High School, Port Byron
 2.  Kris Kleeman-Hartoin, Triad High School, Troy
 3.  Deborah Lojkutz, Joliet West High School, Joliet
 4.  Jeremy Paschke, York High School, Elmhurst
 5.  Michael Smith, Stockton High School, Stockton
 6.  James Stankevitz, Wheaton Warrenville High School, Wheaton 
 7.  Jay Walgren, Libertyville High School, Libertyville

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.  Jim Campbell, Riverdale High School, Port Byron

Nomination

Jim Campbell (33 years)
9622 256th Street N.
Port Byron, Illinois 61275
(309) 523-3184
jcampbell@riverdale.rockis.k12.il.us

Nomination letter:

Jim Campbell has taught physics and chemistry at our high school since 2001. He is also the coach of our academic bowl team. Prior to that, he taught a variety of science and high level math courses at other public high schools. In addition, he teaches physics and chemistry at two local community colleges.

Mr. Campbell teaches our best and brightest. Each year, our graduates leave Riverdale and attend some of the best colleges and universities. When they return to visit, I usually ask them how their classes are going. The consistent theme is how well prepared they were for the rigors of college, because of Mr. Campbell. Two students last year attended Iowa State University. When I asked them about their science classes, they were quick to tell me that because of Mr. Campbell, they found the work easy, and were actually tutoring some of their classmates in college. This past summer, I had a parent offer to purchase him a SMART board as a way of thanking him for how well he had prepared their daughter for college.

Mr. Campbell has a dynamic sense of humor, and has a tremendous rapport with his students. We are very fortunate to have someone of his quality teaching physics at our high school. He is frequently seen at many extra-curricular events, supporting our students. Mr. Campbell is a consummate educator!

Nominated by:

Ron Jacobs, Superintendent
rj2145@riverdale.rockis.k12.il.us
Nov. 23, 2009

Candidate Information

James Campbell (35 years)
PO Box 275
Joy, IL 61260
309-221-4687
tomazulob@yahoo.com; jcampbell@riverdale.rockis.k12.il.us
Dec. 14, 2009

Question 1:

It is important to make students if not enjoy math, not fear math. Since Physics and Chem II are practical applications of math, students need to understand that math is the language of logic and can be used to their advantage. I can't tell you the number of students who actually get a bit of a thrill at being able to use the quadratic formula to get answers to seemingly complex problems. In their minds the problems become much more easily solved when they do not fear the process to get the answers. Hence, the graphing/programmable calculator becomes an invaluable tool in getting the fear removed.

It is also important to have students enjoy themselves in the classroom. I am a disciplinarian, but I am also fairly lenient in students' expressing their opinions, as long as the opinions are not about fellow students. I have always felt the best teachers are those who have an innate sense of humor that is infectious (if not appreciated) by the students. I know my favorite teachers in high school and college were those who had and allowed humor in their classes: Mr. Winters in college French, Mr. Gibson in high school math, etc. As you can see, it is not the area of education they teach, it is the personality. Good teachers have to be good entertainers in order to have the students embrace what you teach them. The concept of positive reinforcement is invaluable here. I am not saying that my sense of humor is great because I am sure my students will certainly disagree with that. However, they will leave my classroom richer in knowledge and feeling good about it.

Question 2:

I really have a hard time answering this question. It is not for me to say I am an outstanding teacher. It is for my students and former students to say. I always demand that the students who graduate return and tell me what to do that would have better prepared them for college. I try to alter my concepts and timing for teaching them according to that. Earlier in my career, I got a number of suggestions and took them to heart. Recently, I have been receiving very little in the way of criticism or of correction and much in the way of compliments. Still, I am keeping an open mind and am willing to correct my style/concepts based upon any future suggestions. I also talk to instructors/teachers at the local colleges to get an idea of how prepared my students are. I have received both compliments and affirmation of my approach.

Question 3:

Thank goodness you are not watching my face as I give the answers to these questions. I am agonizing over them because of the self-aggrandizing that is occurring. I do appreciate the honor, but I struggle to put myself on the pedestal--fear of heights and all. Anyway, I used to teach in a small, rural high school in Georgia that was 98% African-American. This barebones organization had very little for its students since the Caucasian taxpaying community wanted to give very little to the school while paying money for their kids to go to other schools. Two other teachers and I were all hired as first-time teachers as the complete math department. We were shocked to learn that the math curriculum was nothing more than 4 years of general/basic math and pre-algebra. Perhaps we were too young and inexperienced to know or to care about protocol and school-district politics, but the shock of the curriculum and an ignorant guidance counselor shuffling all the students off to the military made us become aggressive advocates for our students immediately. Fortunately for us, we had a principal who did not quite know what to do with us and left us to our battle with the guidance counselor to gut the math program and reshape it into our image. Needless to say, in four years we had a credible program with students getting full-ride scholarships in engineering.

Question 4:

This is where I lose any hope of getting an award. My professional development has been my conversations with instructors and professors at the colleges I teach at. I also go to visit universities to see their programs so that I can make a solid judgment as to what corrections I need to make in my own program.

Question 5:

I helped develop the mentoring program here at Riverdale HS. I was involved in the first phase of this development by giving the initial seminar for new teachers about 5 years ago. I am not involved now because of my heavy involvement at Scott Community College and at Palmer College of Chiropractic in Iowa. However, I do try to spend time with new teachers by listening to the students' critiques of the new teachers and offering suggestions to either them or their mentors. I understand that teaching is an extremely difficult profession, particularly to those who have the misimpression that it is not difficult. The challenge these teachers have deals more with themselves than with their students, and that is a difficult task to conquer.  I, as a really old and grizzled professional, must make them aware of this without chastising them so that they can appreciate the satisfaction of watching their students intellectually develop. For new teachers who are self-absorbed, this is a huge mountain to overcome, but having been an egocentrist for most of my early years, I understand what they must overcome and try to help guide them. However, some are indeed impossible, and I do suggest to them to find another field. Teaching is too important to society to let the future be in the hands of people such as these.

Question 6:

Certainly, we all do this. We have to fight through the bureaucratic pushing of standardized test scores to get to the national standards set by the laughably named No Child Left Behind. The intent of the state and national standards, as I understand it, is to incorporate complex thinking skills (Item 13 of the Illinois Science Standards particularly) in with the basic regurgitation-of-facts skills. With the timeframe involved and limited funds available, this gets to be more and more of a challenge. This is why I like to take my students to industrial labs and university programs so that the students can get a taste for the ideas of innovative thinking that are important to having the basic concepts of sciences/math learned.

Question 7:

Innovations--interesting word--every time I see this phrase "teaching innovations," I think of the expression I hear so often in our profession "There is nothing new in education--just stolen ideas." My innovations in a personal sense is that I want a relaxed atmosphere in my classroom. Now, that's not innovative in the classic sense, but it works for me. Technological innovations that I can get my hands on I try to use if it improves the ability of my students to learn. The big example for this is the Smart Board. I have absolutely embraced this incredible tool and strongly suggest all school districts get this for every teacher, particularly science and math teachers. I am not enamored by every word of every textbook that we use, and this is especially true with the problems. Many texts leave holes in their problem sets that need to be filled. Often, I will create problem sets that fill these holes. For soooooo many years, I have created these problems only to have them be gone in a matter of days or even hours. Now I have them available for years to come because of this. Notes can be run off easily for students who have missed that day, which allow me to be able to explain them without the wild misinterpretations of another student's idea of notes.



2. Kris Kleeman-Hartoin, Triad High School, Troy
 

Nomination

Kris Kleeman (15 years)
703 E. Highway 40
Troy, IL 62294
618-667-8851 ext. 7246
kristina.kleeman@triadunit2.org

Nomination letter:

To Whom It May Concern: I am writing this letter to highly recommend Mrs. Kris Kleeman to your committee for consideration as a recipient of the Outstanding High School Physics Teacher in Illinois.

Mrs. Kleeman is an exceptional high school Physics teacher who has taught Honors Chemistry I and Honors Physics at Triad High School for the past fifteen school years. She has repeatedly demonstrated her mastery of physics and has been able to relate her practical knowledge of physics through lectures, demonstrations, and laboratory activities in a format that high school students can understand and learn.

She spends countless hours preparing for the labs and demonstrations that are so important for a well-taught science lesson. Her lessons are presented in a very sequential nature, using different learning modalities to provide for individual differences. Mrs. Kleeman makes use of every instructional minute while maintaining her students' interest in having fun learning science. In addition to her classroom teaching, Mrs. Kleeman serves as the varsity girls basketball coach, and sponsors the National Honor Society at Triad High School.

Mrs. Kleeman has a very pleasant student-friendly personality. She is well respected by her peers and is considered an outstanding educator by her peers on the faculty. Her students have the utmost respect for her teaching abilities which only serves to encourage more students to enroll in her physics classes.

Mrs. Kleeman is an exceptional high school physics teacher. She is well deserving of her nomination for this award and is truly deserving of receiving the award for the Outstanding High School Physics Teacher in Illinois. Robert Sudhoff Principal Triad High School.

Nominated by:

Robert Sudhoff, Principal Triad HS
robert.sudhoff@triadunit2.org
Dec. 21, 2009

Candidate Information

Kristina Kleeman-Hartoin (16 years)
703 E. Highway 40
Troy, Illinois 62294
618-667-8851
Kris.Kleeman@triadunit2.org
Dec. 14, 2009

Question 1:

There is a familiar saying by an unknown author that states "The objective of teaching is to enable the student to get along without the teacher." There is no greater goal in teaching than to teach a student to independently problem solve while at the same time challenge them to develop an appreciation of the world around them and to have faith in their own unique abilities. In addition to educating students, it is also the objective of the teacher to relay to the students the importance of being a good human being. Education provides a means to all of those ends. If a student can do those things, the carryover into all aspects of their lives will be tremendous.

Question 2:

Outstanding teachers have several characteristics inherent to them regardless of their subject matter. If you were to ask any number of students, you would likely get the same general responses. When I think back at the outstanding teachers I have had throughout my education, I find similar reoccurring themes. They make learning fun. They care about me and want me to be successful. They are really intelligent. They love what they do. I possess these same qualities, although some days it seems a bit more challenging to display them. I absolutely love what I do. There has never been a day when I have not wanted to teach. I try to challenge my students in physics by encouraging independent thinking. I further challenge them with outside, hands-on projects that will help develop more than just basic textbook skills. I make learning fun with labs, demonstrations, discussions, movies, computer simulations, whatever I can use to get them interested. I get to know each of my students and want them to succeed in physics, their other classes and beyond. I always tell them they will come back and thank me for challenging them once they get to college. Most do.

Question 3:

All of us have stories of students whom we have impacted throughout the years. Ones that are special and tell us how important we have been to them. They are the ones that come back to see you during their college breaks or send you an email to thank you. I have had many, many of those throughout my years teaching at Triad. Several of my former students have gone on to major in physics themselves. However, impacts can be made on all students whether we know it or not. Last winter I had a young man who is now twenty-six call me at my home and request to come and visit me. I was slightly taken aback since this particular student was very challenging for me when I had him in class. None-the-less he came to visit. At my kitchen table, over Cokes, he relayed to me, with shaking hands, that he was very sorry for his behavior in my class when he was seventeen. Then he said, "I thought, I think, you are a very, very, good teacher, and you are the reason I have decided to become a teacher myself." He then proceeded to thank me for a few of the assignments I had made, one being the reading of 'Fahrenheit 451'by Ray Bradbury. He said it had a very profound impact on him. I was completely taken aback. Had he not told me, I would have never known the impact that I had on him nine years ago. I am glad he did.

Question 4:

I have received my Master's in Education from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. I have also taken several classes on advanced physics topics at SIUE through their No Child Left Behind grant program. I have attended workshops concerning the "Physics First" initiative. I am also the Science Department Chair at Triad and have served on the Advanced Education committee for school accreditation.

Question 5:

Triad school district has a mentoring program for newly hired teachers. I have served as a mentor for several years now. Mentoring involves meeting with the new teachers regularly to discuss any problems that may surface or procedures that are new. In addition, several classroom visits are required by the mentor. I have also been part of the evaluation committee for Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville's Teacher Quality grant program and have traveled with them to the Illinois Bureau of Higher Education to discuss teacher quality in Southern Illinois.

Question 6:

The science department has been very active in incorporating state and national standards into the curriculum at Triad. We have met over the summer to develop implementation plans that target assignments to meet standards. Physics has been studied to ensure that the topics covered throughout the year satisfy state standards. I have also been involved with developing a curriculum maps for the department as well as curriculum study to make sure we are meeting the national and state standards in all science classes.

Question 7:

I try to incorporate a large variety of media to target different learning modalities and make it fun. Delivery can include anything from computer simulations, to watching movie clips to determine the jump angle of the car in "Gone in 60 Seconds." Traditional modes are also used, overheads, notes, lecture, and lab. I am constantly trying to find new and inventive ideas to help supplement ideas. This year we tested relaunch-able rockets to determine maximum range and flight time. Perhaps the most innovative idea I use is the assigning of monthly out-of-class projects. Once a month the students are given a project to be done on their own time. The project typically supplements a concept being taught within the same time frame. Then, on the assigned day, a competition is held to see which project performs the best. Projects range from mousetrap cars that must travel four meters and stop to marble mazes which must keep a marble moving for thirty seconds or more. The projects culminate at the end of the year with the building of a cardboard boat. The students, in groups of four or more, design and build a boat constructed completely of cardboard, glue, and paint. We then choose a Sunday in May and launch them at the city park. It is really a great end-of-the year project. I have been told by some that it is the only reason they take my class. One year a student commented to me, "I can't believe you would give up your Sunday to come out here and do this with us. This is the most fun I have had in high school. Thank you." That's really what it's all about.



 3.  Deborah Lojkutz, Joliet West High School, Joliet
 

Nomination

Deborah Lojkutz (20 plus years)
401 N. Larkin Ave
Joliet, IL 60436
815-727-6950
dlojkutz@jths.org

Nomination letter:

I would like to nominate Deborah Lojkutz of Joliet West High School for the Illinois Outstanding High School Physics Teacher Award. Deborah has been an active member of both the ISAAPT and the Chicago Area section of the AAPT holding a number of positions for both organizations. She is an excellent role model to her students as well as to other physics teachers.

I first met Deborah when I began attending ISAAPT meetings in 1989. I can not remember ever attending a meeting where she did not give at least a Take 5 presentation. Whenever I have attended Physics Day at Great America with my students, Deborah has been volunteering at the Data Vest site. Her ability to work with both teachers and students on how to use and interpret the data they collect has been inspirational. Deborah has also demonstrated a willingness to improve her teaching methods. During the Summer of 2000 Deborah attended the week long Comprehensive Conceptual Curriculum for Physics (C3P) workshop at Rock Island High School. Her enthusiasm and willingness to try new activities was extremely helpful. Last summer I attended the Modern Physics Workshop at FermiLab. Part of the day was spent rotating through various workshops. The last one I attended was conducted by her. In an hour I learned two new strategies that helped my students better understand Millikan's Oil Drop experiment and half life.

I strongly recommend Deborah for the Outstanding Physics Teacher of Illinois award. Her devotion to teaching has impacted more than just the students who are lucky enough to have her as their teacher.

Nominated by:

Gary Wolber, physics teacher/friend
gdwppsm@aol.com
Fall, 2008

Candidate Information

Deborah L. Lojkutz (20 years)
811 Willow Ct.
Shorewood, IL 60404
815-729-3449
dlojkutz@jths.org
Jan. 29, 2010

Question 1:

My philosophy on teaching physics is that students MUST experience physics in order to gain an understanding of it. Physics phenomenon must be presented to the students by means of a lab or a demo. The lab activities should be inquiry based. Don't tell the students the answer they are trying to find. Let the students discover the results. On the day after the lab, tie everything together by discussing their lab result, the theory and how to solve the problems. The explanation should always follow the initial experience. Every physics class should be an active learning environment where the students are challenged to think and draw conclusions from their lab work. The students should also have phun learning physics.

Question 2:

I feel that I am on outstanding physics teacher because I truly care about my students. I want them to succeed in all of their classes. I take the time to make sure that they understand what we are covering. I am available to help them during, before and after class. I also feel that my students are challenged in my classes. They have to work to get that A. My class requires them to think and problem solve. Memorizing is just not enough. Some students have a hard time with this in the beginning, but most appreciate learning these skills in the long run.

I start each unit with lab activities that forces the students to collect and analyze data, and then draw conclusions. You can tell students Newton's Second Law is F=ma, or you can have the students ride on a cart being pulled through a set distance with different forces. If they measure the time, they can calculate the acceleration. Their results will show them for the same person on the cart, as the force increases, the acceleration increases. If they repeat the experiment using a constant force, but change the rider or add riders, they will be able to discover that as the mass increased, the acceleration decreased. This approach to teaching physics takes more time and effort, but I feel the results are worth it. When students have the opportunity to discover for themselves something about a topic in physics, they have ownership in it and they will remember it for a long time. In most cases I require each student to write-up a lab report for every lab. Reading their reports provides me with the ability to see what they got out of the lab experience. The reports provide me with a place to write comments to the student - a way of communicating with them about their progress.

Another thing that makes me an outstanding physics teacher is that I am always wanting to learn more from my fellow physics teachers. I am actively involved in several physics teacher organizations: ISAAPT, CSAAPT, ISPP and Physics West. Through my involvement in these organizations I know my teaching has improved, my students have benefited, and I have helped my fellow physics teachers by sharing my knowledge and experiences.

Question 3:

Each year, our student fill out an evaluation of us for the administration. Each year when I receive copies of my student's comments I am impressed by the number of comments that say they appreciated that I took the time to help. Many students feel that I made a subject that they thought to be hard, easier to understand. I made physics fun for them. One student said that my class was a lot of work, but he learned a lot, too. In general, the impact I have had on my students is that they know I care about each of them as individuals. I am willing to take the time to help them succeed in my class. I want them to leave my class knowing that they can be successful in whatever they want to do.

Also from time to time, some of my students have come back to visit me. At these visits they often express their thanks for all I did to help prepare them for college.

Question 4:

I have been an active member and officer of both the Illinois and Chicago Sections of AAPT during the past twenty years. I was the President of the Illinois section from November 2007 through November 2008. I have been the Treasurer of the Chicago Section since 2004. I try to share something I feel is useful at most of the section meetings I attend. I also attend and present at the monthly physics teacher sharing meetings of ISPP and Physics West in the Chicago area.

Question 5:

I am currently the senior physics teacher in Joliet Township High School District 204. I have been a member of our districts Science Subject Area Committee since 2000. As a member of this committee I wrote the curriculum and goal tests for our three levels of physics. Our district has undertaken a new approach to teaching physics in the past two years. Physics has become our sophomore science course. Unlike doing Physics First, we teach a traditional Algebra based physics course to our sophomores. All of our freshman have Algebra 1 or higher and Biology. As the result of this change, we have moved from a district with only four physics teachers, to a district with fourteen Physics teachers. In summer of 2008, myself and the senior physics teacher at our Central campus gave a two day workshop on teaching physics and our curriculum to ten teachers. Some were newly hired teachers just out of school, others were experienced Biology and Earth Science teacher who were certified in physics, but had never taught it before. This was a very worthwhile experience. Since this workshop all of the Joliet physics teachers meet periodically to share ideas and to help each other. I enjoy taking a lead role at these meetings.

From 2000-2005, I taught a teaching methods class each quarter for National Louis University's MAT program. My student were adults who already had a degree and had worked in a career outside of education, but were returning to school to get their teacher certification and a Masters in Teaching. My students were all planning to teach physics, chemistry or earth/space science.

As a member of ISPP I am in charge of the New Teacher Bag program. When someone new to teaching physics attends one of our meetings, they receive a gift bag filled with a variety of items useful in demonstrating and teaching physics, along with directions on how to use them. I am responsible in filling and bringing the bags to our meetings.

Question 6:

The Joliet High School District started a curriculum alignment project in 2000. The purpose of this project was to align all classes in all subject areas across the district with state and national standards. As a member of my district's Science Subject Area committee, I was responsible for aligning and writing the curriculum for each of our three levels of physics. As part of this project I worked with other science teachers from the district to make sure that all of the state's science standards were incorporated in the district's science curriculum.

Question 7:

For years I have started my classes ever day with a Question of the Day (Q of D). Typically it is a problem related to their homework, the lab they are about to do, or the lab they just complete. I allow the student to talk with each other about the Q of D, but I limit how much time they get to complete it (typically 3 to 5 minutes). To save paper, the students use the same sheet of paper each day. I collect, discuss and grade the Q of D every day. In doing so, I am able to see the student's level of understanding. My Question of the Day get the students on task at the start of class and provides a starting point for the day's activities. In recent years, I have discovered that many of our new teachers have been taught in their education classes to start their class with a Bell Ringer Question or Activity. I feel I've been doing Bell Ringers in the form of my Q of D long before it became general practice to do so.

I have also created many lab activities and demos to introduce physics topics to my students because I believe that they must experience physics in order to learn and appreciate it.



4.  Jeremy Paschke, York High School, Elmhurst

Nomination

Jeremy Paschke (ten years)
355 W. St. Charles Rd.
Elmhurst, IL 60126
630-617-2400 x7299
jpaschke@elmhurst205.org

Nomination letter:

My name is Mark Golebiowski and I am the science department coordinator for York High School in Elmhurst, Illinois. It is with great pleasure and without reservation that I nominate Jeremy Paschke for the honor of the Outstanding High School Physics Teacher Award. Jeremy has demonstrated a commitment to teaching students as well as unparalleled commitment to contribute both within the school, the count and even beyond our borders.

First and foremost, Jeremy is a dedicated teacher. Since starting here ten years ago, Jeremy has demonstrated a sensitivity and awareness of his students. Jeremy is able to ascertain how his students are learning through the use of innovative formative assessments and inquiry. Students are excited to use clickers to gauge their knowledge of a topic, whiteboards to become engaged and able to receive immediate feedback and various forms of technology to create and solve physical problems. Jeremy has also shared his time in sponsoring scholastic bowl as well as creating and sponsoring a juggling club as well as a Science Olympiad team. The team qualified for state in its first year last year and placed 6th overall. Jeremy was individually recognized for excellence in coaching. Finally, Jeremy single-handedly created the current AP Physics C course which just started this year and is going exceedingly well.

Jeremy's contributions have also extended outside of the community. Jeremy has collaborated with AP Physics teachers throughout the county both in AP Physics symposiums as well as a county-wide effort to standardize physics assessments. Jeremy has spent a number of summers working at Fermilab and even led a workshop based on his work in Japan this past April. Jeremy is a well-rounded, all-around great teacher and person. Please consider him as a candidate for the Outstanding High School Physics Teacher Award; he will make you proud!

Nominated by:

Mark Golebiowski, Science Department Coordinator
mgolebiowski@elmhurst205.org
Dec. 4, 2009

Candidate Information

Jeremy Paschke (10 years high school, 3 years as a TA at University of Minnesota)
227 N. Lincoln Ave.
Geneva, IL 60134
630 232 4075
jpaschke@elmhurst205.org
Jan. 2, 2010

Question 1:

My physics teaching philosophy is to energize students and stimulate their inherent interest in science by showing them that physics has far-reaching and useful applications. Students need to see that science really works - that science can not only explain the natural world, but also make predictions about the world. I believe that physics can do this in a most elegant way. In my teaching I strive to lay the groundwork that my students will need for their future encounters with science. I model how to analyze mysterious situations. I teach students how to properly use digital and analog tools or resources. Finally, I believe that students learn best when they can teach others, so I often have students present their laboratory work or homework to their peers.

Question 2:

I stand out as a physics teacher because of my leadership, and the way I have sparked an interest in science for many students at York Community High School. When I started teaching at York High School, we had 9 physics classes. This year we have 18 physics classes. I have been the lead physics teacher in our department for the past 5 years. I have headed up the effort of redesigning the regular, honors, AP B and AP C curricula. Presently, I teach both AP Physics classes (B and C), after writing the curricula entirely myself. I believe I am an outstanding physics teacher because of they way I can empathize with students. I still recall the days of my graduate work in physics at the University of Minnesota, when I struggled to find success in classes. I relay those experiences to my students, and they see me as a fellow learner who was once in their situation.

Question 3:

My teaching has had far-reaching and deep impacts on several of my students. Just this fall I bumped into a former student at a coffee-shop; and he thanked me for introducing the basics of series and parallel circuitry. He said this knowledge gave him a huge head-start over his colleagues in a sound technician's program. Numerous students have returned to thank me for making their first year of college physics a pleasant and relatively easy experience. Students gone on to use many basic skills that they acquired in my class, such as techniques in problem solving, computer graphing, or spreadsheet programming. Additionally, my leadership on the Science Olympiad Team and the Scholastic Bowl team has helped students advance their academic careers. I am head coach of both the aforementioned teams. In our very first year, the Science Olympiad Team took 6th place in our regional, earning a bid to compete at the University of Illinois Tournament where we took 2nd place in our division. As coach of the Scholastic Bowl team, I have turned our team in a genuine competitor in a very competitive conference.

Question 4:

Through my entire first decade of teaching, I have constantly been developing professionally. Over the past 3 summers I worked as an intern at Fermilab National Accelerator Laboratory. I am contracted to work there for the next two summers as well. I serve as the Fermilab high school master teacher for the national Academies Creating Teacher Scientists (ACTS) program. In this capacity, I lead weekly meetings, participate in research on cosmic-ray physics, and occasionally travel to present workshops on detecting cosmic rays. Two summers ago I presented a poster at the AAPT summer meeting in Edmonton. Last summer I presented a workshop by myself at the Florida International University, and last spring I jointly presented a two-day workshop in Japan. This coming February, I will be joining my ACTS group for the winter AAPT meeting in Washington D.C.. Furthermore, in just the past year, I have joined two local committees that will improve my instruction. One committee is a county-wide group of physics teachers that will focus on selecting an essential physics curriculum. We will eventually write an assessment to be given to physics students at all levels, and will help us track progress over the years. The second committee is a group of teachers in our own district. We are charged with the task of redesigning the sequence of science courses from kindergarten through 12th grade (Elmhurst is a unit district). In this discussion we are aligning the Illinois State Standards with benchmarks that were written for Project 2061. Finally, I attend occasional meetings of Physics Northwest and Physics West. Visiting these informal gatherings is a wonderful way for me to find helpful nuggets of teaching information, and to share one of my favorite activities or demonstrations.

Question 5:

I have assisted fellow teachers in a number of ways. Primarily, I served as a mentor to two brand new physics teachers at York Community High School. Both of those teachers are still with the district and are sure to reach tenure at the end of this year. On occasion these colleagues will seek my advice, but our relationship has evolved into one of equals now. Our constant collaboration not only reminds us that none of us are alone. Also, the time we spend sharing ideas, how we assess, or just letting off steam, inevitably makes us better at what we do. Another way I have assisted other teachers is through the ACTS program. Each week I led a meeting on various topics in physics education. At the last of our meetings, I modeled and distributed to each participant the necessary equipment for a hands-on laboratory activity where students build paper windmills and test them with an electric generator. Over the course of the summer, I demonstrated how a teacher can take their experience from the laboratory and use it to enhance their work in the classroom. Finally, as the head coach of the Science Olympiad Team, I have helped my two assistance coaches grow into leaders in their own right. By taking the lead in most areas, and delegating others, these two colleagues have evolved into stronger coaches. Presently, one of my assistants is using his leadership on Science Olympiad to earn national board certification.

Question 6:

When I started at York in 2001, I was very impressed with their regular physics curriculum. We taught out of the Project Physics text (designed at Harvard). We pressed the students to cover all the traditional physics concepts, often ending the year with Bohr's model of the hydrogen atom. In that way I felt we did a fine job covering Standard 12 (Concepts and Principles.) Today, we don't use the text of Project Physics, but we still hold our students to very high standards. In the regular physics course we still teach a long unit on the Copernican Revolution and astronomy. At the end of the year, students often cite this unit as among their favorites. I really like teaching the Copernican Revolution unit because it gets students away from the typical (and difficult) problem solving of mechanics, and requires students to do lots of reading and assimilating science with history. The Copernican Revolution is a marvelous teaching tool for approaching Standard 13 (Science, Technology, and Society). By charting the slow progression from geocentrism to heliocentrism, students see that ideas in science take time to coalesce and permeate the public understanding. By analogy, most students are quick to realize that we are still living the Darwinian Revolution. Also, by studying key inventions - such as the printing press, and the telescope - students can see how science and technology interact to impact society. Finally, when I first arrived at York, I was disappointed by our weakness on Standard 11 (Inquiry and Design). That is why over the years I have worked very hard to bring lots of inquiry activities to the students at all levels of physics. We use whiteboards on occasion to share ideas and summarize outcomes and types of analyses. However, and this is most exciting to me, we have woven in a number of building activities for our students. Two of my favorites are the mousetrap cars and the wooden bridges. These activities are standard, but I believe that all students who take physics should have the opportunity to work with their hands and build something.

Question 7:

In the spring of 2009, I was awarded a grant for a digital high speed movie camera. On numerous occasions we have used this camera to watch objects undergoing free fall, collisions, explosions, rotations, etc. . . Students were charged with the task of making a short movie that demonstrates a physics concept. (See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMtiJpK7HPA for an example that I created.) Students had great fun filming activities such as a slap in the face, a Gauss- gun with steel ball bearings, a party popper, and a bursting water balloon. We plan to use this camera to analyze the structural failure of a bridge when we do our bridge building lessons. Also, this winter my AP Physics C students will be designing a building electric dollhouses that include dimmer switches, three-way switches, and fuses. Also, in my first year of teaching, I conducted the Eratosthenes experiment to measure the Earth's diameter. To do this I contacted another teacher in a school directly south, all the way in Louisiana. We both took our astronomy students outside at "high noon" and measured the altitude of the sun using only a couple metersticks and a plumb line. From these measurements, one can quickly find the Earth's diameter (as long as you know the distance between observers). By attending AAPT meetings, reading The Physics Teacher, and considering my students' interests and needs in this changing world, I hope I can continue being an effective, innovative, and inspiring physics teacher.



5.  Michael Smith, Stockton High School, Stockton

Nomination

Mike Smith (37 years)
540 North Rush St
Stockton, IL 61085
815-947-3323
mike.smith@stocktonschools.com

Nomination letter:

Mike Smith came to Stockton last year after spending 35 years at a neighboring district. Along with Physics, he teaches Chemistry and Physical Science to our students. Stockton is a small high school, 175 students, and struggles to maintain higher level courses for our students. Prior to his arrival at Stockton the Physics class was in severe jeopardy of being eliminated from the curriculum.

This is the second year that Mr. Smith has taught Physics at Stockton and what an impact! In two years the class has gone from being on the edge of extinction to the largest enrollments we have had in the past ten years. Please keep in mind that this is a senior level course and we have approximately 40 seniors in the total class. Mr. Smith is currently teaching 25% of the senior class members in Physics.

His enthusiasm for the subject, his ability to make this an interesting and fun subject, his connection with students on an individual basis, and the countless hours he gives to his students make him an excellent candidate for this honor.

Nominated by:

Terry Sertle, Principal
terry.sertle@stocktonschools.com
Nov. 23, 2009

Candidate Information

Michael H. Smith (38 years)
1910 Winchester Dr.
Freeport, IL 61032
815.297.9092
rocketwarren72@yahoo.com
Dec. 18, 2009

Question 1:

The science curriculum is accused of being a mile wide and a yard deep. Keeping this in mind, I do not try to cover all the topics in the physics book in one year. I cover fewer topics but in greater depth.

Question 2:

Contrary to my principal's evaluation I do not consider myself an outstanding physics teacher. I am able to establish a rapport with some students and am able to teach them some concepts.

Question 3:

I hope to provide my students with a basic understanding of concepts of the physical sciences so they can continue their education.

Question 4:

nothing

Question 5:

In small schools, I have been the only physical sciences teacher, so I haven't.

Question 6:

Since the standards are so broadly written, my curriculum includes the standards.

Question 7:



6.  James Stankevitz, Wheaton Warrenville High School, Wheaton

Nomination

James Stankevitz (30 years)
1177 South Euclid
Oak Park, Illinois 60304
708-383-4568 (Home) 630-784-7061 (School)
jstankev@cusd200.org

Nomination letter:

The evidence that Jim Stankevitz is an outstanding Physics teacher is incredible:

Student enrollment in first-year Physics and AP Physics has been very high because Jim has developed a physics program to ensure student success. Almost all of Jim's AP students take both the Mechanics and the E & M AP tests. Test scores are very high with an increasing number of tests.

Jim has personally trained our entire science staff (18 science teachers) in "Modeling". As a consequence, modeling methods are routinely practiced in biology, chemistry, and physics classes. Many teachers can have a great impact on their students. How many physics teachers have provided teacher training to their entire department? How many physics teachers have provided teacher training that has been implemented on a routine basis in many, many classrooms? Jim Stankevitz has been a powerful influence and mentor to many science teachers at Wheaton Warrenville South H.S. Jim is also working at U.I.C. to train future physics teachers and to supervise student teachers in physics. For years, Jim has been conducting Modeling Workshops in Physics. Those workshops have trained dozens and dozens of physics teachers. It's my belief that Jim's training has had a great impact on their classroom instruction.

He is a dedicated and committed teacher who has had a great impact on science education in all of C.U.S.D. 200 (K-12 district with over 10,000 students). His efforts to sequence the curriculum, to utilize technology, and to improve instruction have helped to move Wheaton Warrenville South to the top of the academic list of schools in Illinois.

Jim is not just a dedicated physics teacher at Wheaton Warrenville South H.S. He coaches the Scholastic Bowl team. As a result of his dedication he has developed a program to attract our most outstanding academic talent. His Scholastic Bowl teams always compete with the outstanding talent in Illinois. Jim also encourages students to enter Bridge Building contests. Students routinely receive awards for Bridge Building at the local and national level.

Nominated by:

Anthony Houle, Science Chair
ahoule@cusd200.org
Dec. 7, 2009

Candidate Information

James H Stankevitz (34 years)
1177 S. Euclid Ave.
Oak Park, IL 60304
708-383-4568
jimstanke@comcast.net
Dec. 18, 2009

Question 1:

My teaching philosophy centers on active student engagement using the Modeling Methodology of Physics Teaching. I challenge my students, via Socratic dialogue, to create their own models of what they observe in the world around them and then deploy those models in problem solving activities where the students present solutions to their peers. I firmly believe that my students can be model builders, not by me providing answers, but with my guidance. Answering questions such as "How do you know?" or "Why did you do that?" give my students a chance to articulate their understanding and give me an opportunity to find out what they are thinking and what their misconceptions are. To encourage an open discussion, my most important task as a teacher is to ensure that there is a proper and healthy climate setting in the class.

In the laboratory, after an introduction to the tools available, I challenge my students with a task to accomplish, but let them craft a procedure. None of my lab activities are verification labs. Instead, I am giving my students the opportunity to find appropriate graphical and mathematical models that fit the data they collect. Each group presents their results to their peers, and face questioning from their classmates and me. In the end, we agree upon a general model that becomes the heart of the unit. By me not telling my students what to do or think, my students take ownership of the processes, and long-term learning results.

Question 2:

If I were to be judged to be an outstanding physics teacher, it would be because 1) my students are prepared to independently analyze a scientific statement using their knowledge of physics concepts and the processes of physics, and 2) my colleagues have modified their teaching methodology to ensure depth of learning by their own students.

One of my most memorable moments in teaching came when I overheard one student say to another, "Don't ask him, we have to figure it out for ourselves."  She had become an independent thinker, who was not going to rely upon me to give her the answer. In my earlier years of teaching, I believe I underestimated what my students could do. Give them some guidance, the time, the opportunity, and the appropriate tools (both literal and figurative), and they can learn physics, and perhaps more importantly, become critical thinkers who are able to discern the difference between good science and pseudoscience.

As I look around my science department, I see that the seeds I planted 14 years ago when I introduced the Modeling Methodology to our staff have indeed taken root. Having trained almost all of our department's staff in summer modeling workshops, I would like to think that I have influenced the reform of their teaching methods. If our school's steady increase in PSAE and ACT science scores are any indication, the reform in how our staff teaches science has been successful.

Question 3:

I believe my teaching has had a positive impact on how my students think, not only in my classroom, but outside as well. When my students leave my physics course, they should be able to make sense of physical experience, understand scientific claims, articulate coherent opinions of their own and defend them with convincing arguments, and critically evaluate evidence (theirs or others) in support of justified belief. My implementation of the Modeling Methodology has helped my students reach these goals. As a result, my task as an instructor is one of facilitator and questioner, rather than a dispenser of information.

One look into my classroom will hopefully convince the observer that my students are achieving the aforementioned goals. For example, in laboratory activities, instead of telling my students exactly what to do and how to do it, I allow my students to suggest what to measure, how to proceed, and which variables to analyze. Amazingly (to some), they will come up with something very similar to what I might have told them, but because they do it on their own, they have greater ownership in the processes and results. Then, my students present their results to the class for a critical analysis and discussion, much like real scientists do. By giving my students such responsibilities, they internalize the precepts of good science, and in my opinion, become better decision-making citizens in the process.

Question 4:

For the past 5 years my professional development has been dominated by working on my National Board Certification in Physics which I achieved in 2005, mentoring National Board candidates since then, and in conducting Modeling workshops in the summers as well as during the school year. Through my work with Carl Wenning at ISU and Carole Mitchener at UIC, I have attempted to improve physics professional development in both the Chicago area and in the state of Illinois.

I attended many sessions (especially on Physics First)and presented at the National AAPT convention in Chicago in 2009. At the AAPT convention I was an invited speaker for the Physics Education Research (PER) session run by Dan Crowe, and a presenter at Carl Wenning's poster session on The Modeling Methodology of Physics Teaching. I have conducted presentations on Modeling at the DuPage County Science Institute Day three times since 2005, ran the DuPage County District 203 Science In-service in August of 2009, and will preside over the DuPage County Science Institute Day A.P. Physics symposium in February of this year.

Question 5:

I have assisted other teachers in their professional development by conducting summer science Modeling Methodology workshops, teaching graduate-level physics methods classes, and supervising pre-service physics teachers doing their student teaching. I have been conducting Modeling workshops during the summer since 1998. Here’s a listing of my summer workshops: Modeling workshops in 1998-99 at the University of Akron, Golden Apple Summer Science workshops at Benedictine University and the University of Chicago in 2002, Modeling workshop at Illinois State University in 2003, Community Unit District 200 Modeling workshops from 2004-2007, ITQ Modeling workshops at Dominican University from 2005-07, and a Continuing Education Modeling workshop at the University of Illinois Chicago in 2008. I have taught the Physics Methods for Secondary Education course at the University of Illinois Chicago in the summer of 2007 and the fall of 2009. Finally, I have been the Seminar and Field instructor for physics student teachers from the University of Illinois Chicago in the fall of 2008, spring of 2009, and will be in the same capacity in the spring of 2010. I have also mentored several candidates for National Board certification in secondary physics.

Question 6:

Since I use the Modeling Methodology, my teaching requires students to use higher order thinking skills that the state and national standards have emphasized. In our open-ended laboratory activities, my students must formulate hypotheses, design experiments, conduct experiments, collect data, analyze the data, relate mathematical models to the data, evaluate errors, draw conclusions, present results orally and in written form, make predictions, and revise conclusions if needed. The big picture, of course, is model building that must undergo periodic revisions as more concepts are discovered.

In addition, we frequently have discussions on the topic of metacognition where I engage my students in taking an introspective view of their learning. My students appreciate being in on the "secrets" of why I teach the way I do; something they rarely have the opportunity to talk about in other classes. I encourage my students to challenge authority (including my own!). What makes a good scientific argument is a recurring question in my classes.

Finally, wherever possible, we incorporate applications of the physics learned to today's modern technologies and advancements along with a discussion of the responsibilities associated with progress. Included are interdisciplinary links to not only other sciences, but to political and policy decisions that impact science. Whenever possible, I encourage my students to try to see "the big picture", and avoid the idea that physics is compartmentalized to having only an impact on science instead of the whole world.

Question 7:

I would like to think that my innovations in science teaching have had an impact on my school, my district, other local schools, and across the state and country. My dedication to disseminating the Modeling Methodology has led to our school district becoming a model for science teaching reform. I know of no other district in Illinois, or the nation for that matter, that has consistently funded multiple, summer, in-district workshops in the Modeling methodology. I believe our district has seen the efficacy of Modeling and has generously supported our efforts to become a local center for training over 100 secondary teachers in physics, chemistry, biology and earth/space science in modeling.

From the first year I instituted Modeling into my classroom, I have become an advocate for science teaching reform. At first, progress was slow, and it took several, repeated attempts before others were convinced that reform was needed and that Modeling could provide the vehicle for that reform. I am now working diligently to spread that same reform to a wider audience through my work at the University of Illinois Chicago. I have also recently collaborated with the Education and Physics Departments to encourage UIC to become a Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PTEC) site to help spur the reform needed in the Chicago Public School system. I hope UIC is selected and that I can play some role in this capacity in the future.



7. Jay Walgren, Libertyville High School, Libertyville

Nomination

Jay Walgren (15 years)
2296 High Point Drive
Lindenhurst, IL 60046
(847)-265-5607
jay.walgren@d128.org

Nomination letter:

As Mr. Jay Walgren's supervisor over the past 5 years, I have had the honor and pleasure of observing him, a master teacher and an outstanding professional. Through his own professional development, accomplishments and teaching innovations Jay is a role model for other educators. He is a school improvement project coordinator for incorporating state and national standards into the science department curriculum, the chosen teacher representative for district's innovative teaching grant committee, a Physics Northwest workshop and national conference presenter and published author. In addition to past recognitions, he was recently published in Mathematics Teacher and The Physics Teacher. Most recently, Jay was named Illinois' winning teacher in the 10th Annual 2007-08 Siemens Awards for Advanced Placement, sponsored by the Siemens Foundation.

Mr. Walgren possesses many outstanding qualities as a teacher, coach, and character educator. He is an outstanding master teacher. Jay demonstrates a strong mastery of the art and science of teaching. He possesses great charisma, ability and creativity that inspires and engages diverse groups of students in his AP Physics B courses to be very successful. Jay is a highly motivated, collaborative, professional, intelligent, and technologically savvy teacher. These characteristics can be witnessed on a daily basis upon interacting with him. From his work on student achievement as a member of the school improvement team to his classroom teaching, one can experience the critical thinking and growth that he cultivates in his students. Furthermore, he shares and instills a strong passion for the love of physics in them. Students in Mr. Walgren's physics courses and extracurricular clubs (e.g. Robotics) have shared very positive and engaging experiences of success. His dedication to encouraging students of all backgrounds is demonstrated by the population of students who choose to enroll in his classes and participate in the activities he facilitates. In 2003 Mr. Walgren coached the first all female team to be selected as one of the top 100 rocket teams in the nation. The team was selected to compete in the national fly-offs of NASA's annual Team America Rocketry Challenge. Mr. Walgren's school robotics club is comprised of a higher percentage of Hispanic students than the percentage of Hispanic students in the whole student body. The percentage of female students taking his AP Physics class is always greater than the national average of female students taking the exam. It is no accident that there is cultural and gender diversity in groups of students participating in science experiences with Mr. Walgren. Both in and out of the classroom, Mr. Walgren is successful in encouraging students to get involved in his Robotics Club, which has always reached a maximum enrollment capacity. Amazingly, Mr. Walgren has students "waiting in the wings" to join.

In closing, as a former adjunct professor, high school principal and current department supervisor, I recognize Jay Walgren as one of the best Physics teachers in the state, if not the country. He is an educational leader for others. I highly recommend him for the Outstanding Physics Teacher Award. If you have any need to contact me, please do not hesitate to do so.

Nominated by:

Tom Chinske, Supervisor
thomas.chinske@d128.org
Nov. 19, 2008

Candidate Information

Jay Walgren (16 years)
2296 High Point
Lindenhurst, IL 60046
847 265 5607
jay.walgren@D128.org
Dec. 24, 2009

Question 1:

Education is a cooperative endeavor that is most successful when students, educators, parents, and the community work in harmony. Because of the ever-changing dynamics of our society, it is imperative that students are academically equipped and self motivated to become lifelong learners. Education also needs to incorporate a variety of experiences and opportunities that encourage students to be self-reliant, and also to be positive contributors in the community. Empowering self-confidence propels a student to succeed to the best of his ability and achieve his educational goals. I believe in the importance of provoking curiosity and providing a positive first experience in scientific exploration.

Learning activities that use real life applications and incorporate multi-modality instruction promote curiosity and encourage discussion. Learning is lively and exciting. It entices creative thinking and the expression of new ideas. Because science is an explanation of the world in which we live, all subject matter is relevant and revealing to my students.

Teachers need to continue to grow by enriching their knowledge of subject matter and best teaching practices. I want to be a lifelong learner who contributes to my community, just as I advocate for my students. I relish updating my physics knowledge by attending seminars and courses, by reading, and by sharing ideas with fellow scientists. Continued involvement in my school and its mission to educate all students, create responsible citizens, and to build a strong sense of self in each individual is my commitment to my school, students and self.

Question 2:

I am an outstanding teacher because I inspire students to be excited about learning physics, I encourage students to challenge themselves, and I identify and help students at risk.

In order to encourage students who initially have difficulties learning physics, I identify those students and work with them outside of class. During the first semester of school, it is common to find students getting help from me during every hour that I am not assigned to teach a class. I let these students know that the course work is challenging for everyone and that I believe they are capable. I help them find ways to become more efficient and independent learners.

I inspire students to take my physics class. Regardless of what level physics course I teach, my most effective method of encouraging students to enroll is to be the best teacher that I can be, every day. "Word of mouth" between students is the most significant influence in a student's decision to take my class. I find creative ways to help students understand, get excited about, and appreciate science. For example; I annually dress and perform as a pirate character that I created for a Pirate Vector Lab. Students know my classroom is welcoming, inclusive, and supportive for all. Learning in my class is lively, exciting, and entices creative thinking. That is why enrolment in my class is always high regardless of how rigorous students know my class will be.

Question 3:

This fall I received a letter from the dean of admissions at MIT informing me I had been identified by one of their students as the teacher most influential in her development. Over the years, several parents have told me that my class was a significant influence on their son's or daughters' decision to purse a science related career. Several of my former students have become physics teachers or are pursuing degrees with the intent to teach high school physics and have expressed they plan to model their teaching after mine. Before and after class students often stop to share with me how they have observed a physics phenomenon we recently studied. It is not uncommon for students to inform me that after taking my class, physics is now their favorite subject.

My students experience growth and success because I encourage them to participate in new activities and to challenge themselves. For example, in 2009 and 2008 my students won the AAPT division I PHYSICSBOWL contest in both individual and school categories. Also, in 2003 my team of students were selected as one of the top 100 rocket teams in the annual Team America Rocketry Challenge and competed in the national fly-offs. For the past six years I have facilitated/coached a Robotics club that participates in a program sponsored by Abbott Laboratories. I have become an advisor/consultant to Abbott for this unique program that focuses less on competition and more on students learning to apply principles of physics.

Question 4:

I enrich my knowledge of subject matter and best teaching practices by staying actively involved in my professional community. I regularly attend the AAPT national winter conference and this year I am co-presenting on the topic of Using A Student Response System. I am an active member of Physics Northwest, a local group of Chicago area Physics teachers affiliated with the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) who meet monthly to share classroom demonstrations and activities. I regularly attend and present to groups of Chicago area physics teachers through my involvement with Physics Northwest. For the past two years, my colleague and I have hosted (and presented at) a Physics Northwest meeting at our school. I also subscribe and have submitted work to Physics journals of the AAPT.

I have maintained my knowledge about new developments in AP Physics by maintaining collaborative relationships with many other AP Physics teachers including AP Physics Exam graders and a current AP Physics Exam table leader. I also have attended many AP College Board workshops and graduate classes. In the summer of 2005 I attended an AP Physics Graduate Class covering modern physics at Carleton College.

Question 5:

I regularly make presentations to other physics teachers, I mentor new teachers, I serve on education committees supporting my school district and I accept frequent requests to be observed by new or aspiring teachers.

I mentor often and recently mentored a new Chemistry teacher. As part of her mentee experience I have introduced her to both Physics Northwest and ChemWest (local Chemistry teacher's group) gatherings encouraging her to presenting (contribute) to her community. After assisting me at a Physics Northwest meeting, she now intends to host a ChemWest meeting. As the school improvement project coordinator for the science department, I assist my colleagues in improving student assessment methods and in incorporating state and national standards into the science department curriculum.

Part of being an educator is an obligation to contribute to your professional community and thereby helping others in their professional development. In addition to presenting at Physics Northwest, I have also been published in professional journals. In one article I introduce a mathematical method to convert grades based on learning objectives and mastery of content to a standard high school grading scale. The article, titled "Don't Curve It, Convert It!," was published by process of peer review in the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics journal, Mathematics Teacher (September 2007). I also co-authored the article "Taking Advantage of Opportunities" in the The Physics Teacher (April 2007). The article promotes AAPT involvement and describes a unique and wonderfully rewarding experience that resulted from attending the AAPT 2007 Meeting.

Question 6:

I create activities and labs where students work together in inquiry based learning, and I create investigative labs inspired by student curiosity. For example, students were interested measuring the force from their model rocket using classroom lab computers. I welcomed the idea and created a lab where my class went outside to launch model rockets and studied the physics of rockets and thrust. I use multiple methods to gather data about students understanding and ability. I analyze assessment data to guide my teaching. I use an advance scantron analysis program that gives me a variety of specific data on my student assessments. I choose to get involved educational activities that are, by design, accessible to all students regardless of their ethnicity, gender, or socio-economic background. As mentioned earlier in item 5, I am the school improvement project coordinator for the science department and participate in the ongoing planning and development of the school science program.

Question 7:

Most recently, I devised a unique method to use a classroom response system to electronically capture each student's lab data as they are performing a physics lab. It is the topic of my manuscript, which is currently undergoing the peer review process for The Physics Teacher.

I build many of my own demonstrations, dress in costume, and find unique ways to enhance field trips. This year I built and wore a "Space Shuttle" costume for my classes on Halloween. The costume worked perfectly that day for my lessons on the physics of the space shuttle. One of the many demonstrations I created a shatterproof accelerometer made from a Nutella jar that can be attached to a common Pasco physics cart. I also created a low cost adaptor that connects a rocket engine to a Pasco force sensor. I created this adaptor for the rocket lab mentioned above in item 6. I produce enough adaptors to distribute as a "give away" when I presented it at a Physics Northwest meeting. I created a project where, my students design, build and calibrate "low tech/low cost" accelerometers without a kit or material purposely manufactured to build accelerometers. Then they use their accelerometers to collect data on roller coasters during the annual Great America field trip. These are some of the innovations that I have presented at Physics Northwest meetings over the years.