ISAAPT Outstanding High School Physics Teacher
Candidate Information
2011-2012

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 Monday, February 20, 2012.  Please number your choices.
1. Bart Carbonneau, Neuqua Valley High School, Naperville
2. Jeremy Paschke, York High School, Elmhurst
3. Matthew Poston, St. Anthony High School, Effingham
4. Mary Quigle, Macomb High School, Macomb
5. Scott Schlapkohl, Alton High School, Alton
6. Rebecca Vieyra, Cary-Grove High School. Cary

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. Bart Carbonneau, Neuqua Valley High School, Naperville

Nomination

Bart Carbonneau (12 years)
3 South 029 Arboretum Road
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137
630-534-4859
bart_carbonneau@ipsd.org

Nomination letter:

As chair of the science department, I have observed and worked with many teachers the last twelve years. Bart Carbonneau ranks as one of the best. He is extremely detail-oriented and is a true professional. Bart teaches AP Physics and honors physics and has been instrumental in the implementation of an inquiry-based approach to instruction. Bart relies on data to make decisions on the time and depth he spends on various concepts. He comes to school early and leaves late. Bart seeks advice and is always looking for ways to improve his methodologies in the classroom. He will do what it takes to complete the task at hand. His determination and sense of urgency are some of the traits that make him an effective educator. His work tremendous ethic is paralleled by few.

Bart's genuine concern for his students and colleagues is always evident. He takes the time to make himself available for students and seeks opportunities to collaborate and learn from his colleagues. I have witnessed him working with students before and after school on many occasions. Bart is always prepared. His lessons are organized and clear. He makes sure objectives are communicated verbally and in writing before a lesson begins. His ability to explain difficult concepts and manage students and materials has made classroom management a non-issue. Bart possesses the trait of "withitness" that enables him to make wise decisions in working with students. Students genuinely like physics because of his style and demeanor. He makes learning fun. His content knowledge is superb and this enables him to creatively design lessons to engage students in learning the many facets of physics.

Nominated by:

Paul Vandersteen, Science Department Chair
paul_vandersteen@ipsd.org
Dec. 17, 2009

Candidate Information

Bart Carbonneau (13 years)
Neuqua Valley High School
2360 95th St
Naperville, IL 60564
630-428-4616
bart_carbonneau@ipsd.org
Jan. 17, 2012

Question 1:

I teach science the way it is done in real life. Start with an investigation (lab), make your conclusions and then enrich your students from that. So, learn by doing. As opposed to sitting there listening to a teacher lecture. (No fun for anyone)

Question 2:

I love to teach Physics. I have a very laid back attitude that the students can relate to. I've learned through experience how a lesson should flow (how and when to ask the right question) I truly enjoy being in the classroom.

Question 3:

I've received numerous emails, phone calls and letters from parents telling me that their son or daughter has decided to pursue a career in Physics!!! We all have the students that want to become Engineers and the like. But to influence a student in this way is something i always take with me.

Question 4:

Master in Curriculum and Leadership National Board Certification Masters of Educational Technology (currently enrolled)

Question 5:

Yes. I've personally trained 3 teachers for Honors Physics. 1 for AP Physics and had a student teacher last year.

Question 6:

Of course. Any good teacher will meet all the standards without even having to directly teach to them.

Question 7:

Innovations? Well, most innovations are really just "tweaks" made to previous philosophies. Modeling for example. We use this methodology in our classes. I've had to modify it to fit into our tight schedule. Rocket Project, Bridge Building Contest, Great America Field Trip, Physics Photo Contest.



2. 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 and 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.



3. Matthew Poston, St. Anthony High School, Effingham

Nomination

Matthew Poston (10+ years)
St. Anthony High School High School
304 East Roadway Avenue
Effingham, IL 62401
2173426969
mbposton@stanthony.com

Nomination letter:

Mr. Poston is a dedicated and passionate science teacher, and it is my privelege and responsibility to make sure that he is nominated for the Illinois High School Outstanding Physics Teacher Award. As the Coach of WYSE team, he has led our group to numerous top 5's in the State. Please take a look at his website, which is also a pure indication of his commitment to science excellence...   http://www.mrscienceteacher.com/index.php?page=start&keep_has_js=1 .

Nominated by:

Ron Niebrugge, Principal
rniebrugge@stanthony.com
Dec. 22, 2011

Candidate Information

Matthew Poston (11 years)
St. Anthony High School
304 East Roadway
Effingham, Illinois 62401
217-342-6969
mbposton@stanthony.com
Jan. 8, 2012

Question 1:

Learn something new each day!

Question 2:

I know my subject material and I "push" my students just until their ears begin to bleed.

Question 3:

My students attend the University of Illinois and are usually found in the top 10% of their class in various engineering fields.

Question 4:

I've attended SIUE and taken organic chemistry I and II along with the lab.

Question 5:

No.

Question 6:

I teach what college instructors want their students to know. I provide quality instruction to all using teaching standards as a guide.

Question 7:

I never teach from notes. Each day I walk in "cold" and start lecture. I know my material well and have the respect of all my students.



4. Mary Quigle, Macomb High School, Macomb

Nomination

Mary Quigle (17 years)
810 Chesapeake Rd.
Colchester, IL 62326
(309) 776-5268
quiglem@mcusd185.org

Nomination letter:

I have known Mary Quigle for one entire school year and a quarter of another. I find that she is extremely dedicated to her students and to her area of expertise. I have also observed her as a coach in both golf and softball and have had additional opportunities to see her in action with our students.

In her classroom, all students are treated fairly and consistently. She has established excellent expectations for her students and yet has shown great flexibility when the situation warrants. Mrs. Quigle is also not afraid to express her opinion in the classroom and in my office on issues that are relevant to the education and treatment of our students and staff. She is not afraid to "walk the walk" when it comes to work ethic, citizenship, and a cooperative spirit. When it comes to the advocacy of her students, Mrs. Quigle is a positive role model for her fellow staff members.

During her coaching tenure, she has provided instruction and leadership to countless athletes. She has unselfishly provided her own funds in purchase of equipment when our athletes needed them. Mrs. Quigle has been a positive role model in our coaching staff and holds her athletes accountable for their academics during the season.

I am proud to nominate Mrs. Mary Quigle for this prestigious award. If I can answer or provide any other information to this selection process.

John N. Rumley, Principal Macomb High School

Nominated by:

John N. Rumley, Her Principal
rumleyj@mcusd185.org
Nov. 22, 2010

Candidate Information

Mary F. Quigle (17 years)
810 Chesapeake Road
Colchester, IL 62326
309-776-5268
quigle@mcusd185.org
Jan. 6, 2011

Question 1:

I am a specific individual who has to learn to adjust to the different learning needs of my students.

Question 2:

Outstanding is a strong adjective of one's being. For some students I have made a huge impact and others I have not. That is being realistic. I am fair and consistent to all. I have to earn their trust and respect. I continue to take physics' classes so I can stay on top of new and old revisited concepts. We relate our everyday lives to Physics.

Question 3:

Many of my Problem solving Physics students go on and Major in Physics or some related field. My students have done well in their college physics class. I have developed my class structure similarly to a college class. Getting a solid B or A in their college physics gives them confidence. It is not easy to get an A in my high school class but later they will realize how I have prepared them.

Question 4:

I have taken many classes or workshops. Right now I am concentrating on RTI or differentiated teaching. Not all learn the same and not all of us deliver the material the same.

Question 5:

I have been a mentor teacher several times. Last year was the last time I mentored. Most students coming out of college are blind sided by all that it takes to teach. They may know their area of content but discipline, beahavioral issues, adjustments, paper work, time management, etc. are a major concerns for them.

Question 6:

I have developed a core curriculum exam that hits all of our state standards. Which I give 3 times during the year to check progress of my students. I have a curriculum map for every month with my learning standards listed. For the state of Illinois their standards have changed in math and reading to the National Standards. I believe they will adapt the national science standards as soon as they are completed.

Question 7:

I am huge in developing trust, discipline, and consistency in my classes. If we get those in line the content is so much easier to deliver. We can do group work, projects, oral assignments/test and they know what is expected of them. I allow students to teach some material to their peers. I video tape myself to make adjustments to teaching style or deliver of the material. Using iPods to find information about physics is great.



5. Scott Schlapkohl, Alton High School, Alton

Nomination

Scott Schlapkohl (6 years years)
3640 Buck Ridge Rd.
Godfrey, Illinois 62035
618.466.3097
sschlapkohl@altonschools.org

Nomination letter:

I would like to recommend Scott Schlapkohl for Outstanding High School Physics Teacher. I have known Scott as a teacher at Alton High School for the past six years. During that time, he has taken on an important leadership role within the science department.

Mr. Schlapkohl is an exceptional teacher. Scott has taught all levels of physics from introductory courses to our most rigorous AP Physics course. He works well with all types of students because he understands and incorporates a multitude of differentiated instructional strategies. He co-teaches with a special educator and together they have created a wonderful learning environment where every student experiences success.

Scott is a life-long learner. He recently passed his National Board Certification. Additionally, Scott is working on his school administrative certification through courses with McKendree University. Scott is always interested in participating in professional development and takes advantage of any learning opportunity.

Scott is a teacher leader. He currently serves as a division chair on our School Improvement Team. He has provided guidance to our SIP team on data disaggregation and interpretation. He is always willing to share new information by presenting to our staff. Scott realizes the importance of working with new teachers. He is a mentor to our younger staff and provides guidance and support to ensure a successful teaching experience.

Mr. Schlapkohl is truly dedicated to his career. Scott is retired from the military, but has embraced this second career with passion. He works above and beyond to develop engaging and fascinating learning experiences for students at every level. He sponsors the WYSE program (World Youth in Science and Engineering) and takes students to trebuchet contests at our local community college.

Scott Schlapkohl is an excellent example of an outstanding teacher. It is with great pride that I recommend him for the prestigious award of Outstanding High School Physics Teacher.

Nominated by:

Barb Gillian, Principal
bgillian@altonschools.org
Dec. 7, 2010

Candidate Information

Scott R. Schlapkohl (5 1/2 years)
3640 Buck Rdg
Godfrey, IL 62035
618-466-3097
sschlapkohl@altonschools.org
Jan. 31, 2011

Question 1:

I see myself as a teacher leader who is dedicated to increased student learning. To provide increased student learning, a teacher leader must accomplish several simultaneous tasks. The teacher leader must have an in-depth understanding of pedagogical content knowledge. The teacher leader must effectively integrate cooperative learning and inquiry-based teaching into daily lessons. The teacher leader understands that effective classroom management depends upon student engagement. The teacher leader connects with students' family members in meaningful ways to establish productive, mutual relationships. The teacher leader is adept at utilizing formative and summative assessments to measure student learning. Teacher leaders engage in self-reflection and are life-long learners. Teacher leaders work in professional learning communities to improve school effectiveness. The ultimate objective of these tasks is increased student learning.

Question 2:

In Physics AP-B, I have advocated for a two hour block each day so that my students can experience the full Physics AP-B curriculum. I use a combination of inquiry, discussion, lecture, labs, guided practice, and individual practice to insure the students learn the Physics AP-B curriculum. Last year, the percent of my students who received a 5 on the AP test was over twice the national average, and the percent of my students who received 3 or better on the test was 23% higher than the national average. In our sophomore integrated physical science class which supports our bottom students, I advocated the need for physics teachers to teach the physics semester of this course and chemistry teachers to teach the chemistry semester. For many of our students, this is the last science course they will ever take making it critical for science literacy. The course is primarily an inquiry based course with the students developing their own scientific knowledge through the use of the scientific method in cooperative groups. The students collaborate to build such things as simple motors, electromagnets, and toothpick bridges as they investigate science. Additionally, they develop their own experiments to determine such things as the speed of an electric car and the acceleration of car down a ramp. These labs are followed with post labs which allow the students to use their newly gained knowledge to solve problems similar to ones they will encounter during the PSAE.

Question 3:

As Science Division Chair, I have made curriculum changes to increase student learning. When I started as Division Chair half of our incoming freshman took biology and half took a science survey course, which was taught by biology teachers. This course was supposed to be a quarter each of earth science, biology, chemistry, and physics. However, the biology teachers were not fluent in physical science and made the course mostly biology. These students took biology in their sophomore year which completed their science graduation requirements without having very much physical science. Three years ago, I proposed a change of curriculum that was approved by the administration. All students take biology during their freshman year. In their sophomore year, students either take chemistry or integrated physical science. Additionally, as biology teachers retired or moved to other districts, I advocated the need to have subject matter experts teach in their field. Through these efforts our school district hired two additional physics teachers. Each of the physics teachers teaches one of our primary physics courses and teaches one or two sections in our integrated physical science. This course, taught to the bottom half of our sophomore class, not only teaches scientific critical learning skills, but it also teaches reading, writing, and algebra skills which are needed for success during the PSAE. These efforts have shown an increase in our average EXPLORE, PLAN, and PSAE science scores.

Question 4:

As a teacher, I am a lifelong learner who continuously works to improve the quality of my practice to increase student learning. During the past five years, I have grown from a novice teacher with an initial teaching certificate with endorsements in science-physics, science chemistry, mathematics, and business, marketing, and computer education to a master teacher. In 2010, I became a National Board Certified Teacher and received my NBPTS: Adolescence & Young Adulthood/Science endorsement. Additionally, I am nearing completion of the course work necessary to gain a General Administrative Certificate. I take advantage of professional development activities, such as a Small Learning Communities (SLC) Conference; Professional Learning Communities (PLC); Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS); Social Justice, and Co-teaching workshops. I am a member of the American Association of Physics Teachers. Finally, I have taken refresher physics college courses to expand my content knowledge.

Question 5:

I volunteer to mentor pre-service teachers and novice teachers. Novice teachers have many questions concerning school procedures as well as many fresh ideas from college. This combination makes mentoring a fruitful experience for both the mentor and mentee. Our school has two new physics teacher on staff, with whom I spend approximately three hours per week discussing curriculum, classroom management, and personal issues. I have been the cooperating teacher for a pre-service teacher. Many times novice teachers and pre-service teachers are unsure of their teaching. They do not understand the difficulties the students have with the material. By observing and critiquing the instructional approach of the mentee, I can discreetly discuss curriculum, classroom management, and student preconceptions and learning difficulties with the mentee. At the beginning of the year, our mentoring sessions focused on classroom management and the other teachers' successes and failures. Once classroom management was under control, we started to discuss student preconceptions. Most physics students come with an Aristotelian view of the world, which inhibits their ability to learn new material. Our mentoring sessions focused on the disconnect between what the novice teacher thinks the students know and the students preconceptions, and then how to overcome these preconceptions. The main topic in the mentoring sessions is to make physics open and understandable for all.

Question 6:

Our school uses the ACT's college readiness skills in conjunction with the state teaching standards to develop the scope and sequence of our curriculum. The science college readiness skills are mainly taught during multivariable labs and post labs. During the inquiry based labs, the students get a hands-on experience where they use the scientific method to develop experiments to investigate multivariate problems. However, students' processes and measurements often are not as accurate as needed to make sound assessments of the data. Therefore, during the post-labs, I provide a lab write up and good data that is based upon the same problem and is written in a form similar to an ACT test. In this way, the students get experience manipulating lab equipment and experience solving ACT type problems. I use the state standards in conjunction with our school's curriculum to develop lessons that provide the essential scientific knowledge our students need. In my Physics AP B course, I use College Board's course description to develop and sequence the lessons and labs.

Question 7:

An oil refinery is a major employer in our area. Their representatives have requested that our high school help prepare some of our students to work as plant operators. In cooperation with our local community college, I am developing an Applied Technical Physics course that will provide our students dual credit toward an Associates in Applied Science Degree in Process Operations Technology. This degree will give the students the necessary credentials to work at the refinery. During the Applied Technology Physics course, the students will explore the laws of motion, statics, dynamics, simple machines, and heat, with special emphasis on the application of principles related to modern technology.



6. Rebecca Vieyra, Cary-Grove High School. Cary

Nomination

Rebecca Vieyra (4 years)
2208 Three Oaks Rd.
Cary, IL 60013
847-639-3825
rvieyra@d155.org

Nomination letter:

I am writing to recommend Ms. Rebecca Vieyra as a candidate for your Physics Teacher of the Year Award. During her time here as a member of our Science Department at Cary-Grove High School she has demonstrated several outstanding attributes that lead me to believe she is a truly outstanding teacher.

Rebecca has proven to be an excellent teacher in her short time with us. Her dedication to students is nothing short of phenomenal. She constantly considers the needs of her students as she prepares their lessons and corresponding assessments. Their background knowledge, personal interests, and ability levels are the foundational pieces on which Rebecca builds her challenging curriculum. Her lessons are always designed around relevant real world applications. The rigor in her lessons is substantive, but her presentations and activities allow for students to achieve success without realizing jut how very rigorous it is. Importantly, Rebecca strives to not only have students to understand the content, but to be able to apply it and synthesize ideas as a result. She clearly expects that students in her physics class are going to "experience" science. Enhancing her teaching is Rebecca's exemplary power of reflection. She is constantly evaluating the achievement of her students and her teaching methods so that adjustments can be made to insure the comprehension of the students. Her "whatever it takes to get the job done" attitude often takes the form of providing individualized assistance to any student that she determines needs the extra attention. As you may imagine accomplishing all of this daily requires a tireless work ethic. While she certainly possess that characteristic, her tremendous organizational skills allow her the efficiency to successfully provide for her students in their times of need.

In addition to the aforementioned characteristics, Rebecca clearly demonstrates a willingness to lend a helping hand whenever necessary. We are extremely fortunate to not only have someone modeling those characteristics, but also to have her actively assisting others to improve their craft. She is an energetic participant in our Course Learning Teams and also does a great job of helping other teachers in her department regardless of any commonality of their teaching preps. She is the consummate team player.

In closing, I highly recommend Rebecca Vieyra for your award. She is motivated to improve her content knowledge and her teaching skills. Importantly, she's motivated to do so out of a desire to improve the learning of her students. We certainly consider her to be a credit to our institution. If I can be of any further assistance in recommending Rebecca, please do not hesitate to telephone me at school (847-639-3825x115).

Nominated by:

Jay Sargeant, Principal
jsargeant@d155.org
Nov. 12, 2010

Candidate Information

Rebecca Vieyra (5 years)
Cary-Grove High School
53 Pine Ct.
Crystal Lake, IL 60014
(309) 824-8853
rvieyra@d155.org
Jan. 26, 2012

Question 1:

I view my students as more than just students of physics - I provide a broad education that educates the whole student in both the content and process of science. I want my students to become scientifically literate consumers of information, and I want them to achieve this goal by becoming critical thinkers through analysis of the physical world. My philosophy is constructivist: I recognize that students come into the classroom with substantial prior knowledge, including erroneous ideas. I elicit and then aim to help students identify, confront, and resolve misconceptions about physics, while giving them a chance to practice real-world thinking skills. My teaching philosophy in action emphasizes student inquiry - I have students derive almost all concepts and equations through labs, collaboration, and class-wide consensus, without deferring to "textbook approaches." I teach contextually, emphasizing the importance of socio-cultural and historical influences on the institution of science (the nature of science) as well the development of its accompanying body of knowledge (science content), and resulting effects on societal issues and technology. My role as a teacher is to provide students with opportunities to experience physics and to guide them in their self-directed and cooperative learning. I use multiple learning approaches, and attempt to incorporate labs, interactive demonstrations, discussions, traditional worksheets, computer simulations, and media into the class. The role of my students is to develop models that represent the way the physical world functions, and to develop critical thinking skills that are applicable to many walks of life - not just physics!

Question 2:

I make physics relevant to students through connections to their families, their interests, and to the community as a whole. In one of my favorite assignments, students discuss science issues with their parents. I use parents as contributors to their children's learning and this has resulted in positive parent-teacher relationships when working with students of special need. I have reached out to communities by partnering with nuclear power plant personnel for a problem-based learning unit, and by implementing content from local fire fighters about the science of their profession. In the past few years, I received two grants for a classroom set of literature, Story of Science and Evolution of Physics, to use as historical resources to provide a context to many physics topics, and to enhance reading skills. I aim to extend my influence as a teacher beyond my classroom. I have collaborated with a colleague to develop a new, inquiry-based curriculum for our Physical Science course. Those efforts resulted in three additional teachers using the materials in their courses. In 2010, I worked with the Laboratory School of Science and Technology in Naperville to teach mechanics to 24 middle school students. I helped prepare students for high school physics, and the course materials I developed were placed onto an online Wikispace for my colleagues in LSST to access - a number of teachers have used my resources to supplement their own teaching as well. This past fall, I was named an ISTA New Science Teacher of the Year.

Question 3:

When I was a student of Thomas Holbrook, 1997-1998 Physics Teacher of the Year, I was impacted by Holbrook's ability to help me see physics in "everyday phenomena."  It is this that I aspire to do with my own students. The following demonstrate this: One student e-mailed me a video she had taken around the dinner table. The dinner had been served on a tray, and she noticed the image of her overhead lamp projected through a hole at the tray's edge. In the video, she demonstrated the inversion of the lamp's image through the pinhole by blocking out various bulbs with a plate. Another student e-mailed me a reflection on the nature of science. Including a video of Feynman discussing science, he related this to a quote by Freud: "For I am actually not at all a man of science, not an observer, nor an experimenter... I am by temperament nothing but a conquistador - an adventurer...." The student wrote, "The conquistadors were the ones pushing past the boundaries of the known world, just as the scientists of today are pushing past the boundaries of the known world."  He related this to his favorite painting, "Wanderer above the Sea of Fog." He connected physics to history, philosophy, art, and his own life - he graduated considering physics as his minor. His mother wrote, "I want to thank you for inspiring your students. Your class was one of John's favorites. Thank you for your influence in values of a strong work ethic."

Question 4:

In 2007, I attended the Chicago ITQ Modeling Method of Instruction (MMI) workshop, a three-week program that enhanced my pedagogical content knowledge and strengthened my ability to teach by inquiry. In 2008, I participated in approximately one week of follow-up to the MMI workshop, and attended a three day-long Science of Cell Phones Workshop that has supplemented my class curriculum. In 2010, I completed a 13 month Professional Master's of Science Education program through the Illinois Institute of Technology, with emphasis on teaching the nature of science and serving as a teacher leader. I helped develop curriculum as an intern at the Woodstock Challenger Learning Center as part of my degree. As an active member of the National Science Teacher Association, in the fall of 2009 I was awarded a fellowship in the New Science Teacher Academy, in which I participated in a formal mentoring program with a fellow science teacher and attended an institute at the NSTA National Conference in Philadelphia. In July, I was accepted to and participated in the AAPT Physics Teaching Resource Agent institute, and have been developing a video analysis workshop. In November, I received National Board Teacher Certification, which required detailed written and video analysis of my instructional planning, use of inquiry and discussion techniques, as well as parent-teacher communication and leadership activities. My ongoing involvement has included membership in the ISAAPT, CSAAPT, AAPT, NSTA, and Physics Northwest. I have given presentations or workshops at conferences for all of these organizations.

Question 5:

I have a history of assisting others in the teaching profession, beginning even before I entered the profession formally myself. While still an undergraduate physics education major, I spent August 2004 to May 2006 as an NSF GK12 PRISM teaching fellow at Illinois State University. I dedicated approximately 10 hours per week to work with 12 middle and high school math and science teachers to develop and implement innovative curriculum, having an impact on more than 1,300 students. In the summer of 2009 I was contracted by Illinois State University as a co-instructor for Physics 489.01: Physical Science for Middle School Teachers in which I worked with seven special education teachers to develop their content and pedagogical content knowledge in physical science. I have given multiple workshops, including "Inquiry in Physics" at the spring 2005 Puebla Physics Teachers' Conference at the Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, "Investigations in Electrostatics with Benjamin Franklin" at the fall 2009 meeting of the ISAAPT, and "Science of Cell Phones" at the spring 2009 meeting of the CSAAPT. I have given over 17 presentations as well, including at the winter 2009 AAPT conference, the fall 2004 and spring 2006 National Science Teachers Association conferences, and the fall 2011 ISEC conference. I also have three publications, including "Materials Mayhem" (The Science Teacher, 09/10), "Guidelines and Methods for High School Teachers for Encouraging Women in STEM" and "A Generic Model for Inquiry-Oriented Labs in Postsecondary Introductory Physics" (Journal of Physics Teacher Education Online, spring 2008 & spring 2006).

Question 6:

In order to ensure that I am teaching what I am testing, I am careful to ensure alignment between my teaching standards, student activities, and assessments. My physics course is rooted in Inquiry and Design (ILS 11 / NSES 2). In my course, students will never be found doing "cook-book" labs; rather, students will be found asking their own questions to answer, always play a role in designing their experiments, and make and defend their own conclusions. These skills are set in the context of the fundamental Concepts and Principles (ILS 12 / NSES 3) of physics - given the research showing that students learn best with clear expectations, I provide students with daily learning targets. I help students to learn the role of Science in Technology and Society (ILS 13 / NSES 6 & 7) by teaching numerous concepts in context. For example, when teaching about the properties of light, students take part in a number of activities in which they use discovery learning, interactive demonstrations, and inquiry labs to determine the properties of light and relate their evidence to the Newton-Hook debate about light as a wave and as a particle. We discuss how personal relationships and societal norms resulted in the delayed publication of Newton's studies on light, and relate all of this to the modern day concept of photons. In another unit, we tie together concepts of motion, vectors, and atomic physics when analyzing the historical and political impact of the bombing of Hiroshima.

Question 7:

I regularly incorporate historical perspectives into my course. When teaching about energy, for example, students read historical texts regarding the development of the concept of energy from Newton to du Châtelet to Young. We perform the historic clay ball drop experiment performed by s'Gravesand and use experimental evidence to determine which historical character most accurately defined kinetic energy. As we progress through each unit, I also make use of concept maps, empty "toolboxes" that students fill in as they derive equations and develop concepts. Students regularly mention that these one-page synthesis sheets are the most valuable tools in my course, and become a cumulative "mini- textbook" to take with them to college. I develop a climate of collaboration through the use of Paradigm Partners. At the outset of the semester, students choose with whom they would like to work from their friends, acquaintances, strangers, and their assigned lab partners. As we alternate between labs and activities, students pair up with the appropriate partner. This encourages students to work cooperatively and fosters class spirit. Students also appreciate my use of creative homework assignments. I avoid assigning traditional problem sets for homework - students are often not motivated by this type of homework, and some resort to copying, leading to frustration for both teacher and student. Instead, I assign homework that requires creativity - writing personal stories and making associated motion graphs, creating posters displaying optical atmospheric phenomena and describing it in terms of reflection and refraction, and making and solving their own word problems.