Candidates for ISAAPT Outstanding High School Physics Teacher
2014-2015


The following information pertains to the candidates for the ISAAPT Outstanding High School Physics Teacher of the Year Award.  Any teacher who was nominated and filled out the candidate information in the past 3 years is on this ballot.  We received two forms for each candidate: (1) Nomination and (2) Candidate Information.  Please read this document and email your top three choices to Don Reid (dreid@panhandleschools.com) by Tuesday, March 24, 2015.  Please number your choices.  The award will be presented at the Fall meeting.
 

1. David Baxter (22 years), Galesburg High School, Galesburg
2. William (Wes) Cooley (11 years), Lincoln-Way North HS, Frankfort
3. Walter Glogowski (21 years), Ridgewood High School, Norridge
4. Martin Kulak (16 years), James B. Conant HS, Hoffman Estates
5. *Martha Lietz (24 years), Niles West High School, Skokie
6. +Eric Malvik (5 years), Nokomis High School, Nokomis
7. Michael Marchizza (40 years), Edinburg High School, Edinburg
8. Jack Marino (29 years), Maine South High School, Park Ridge
9. Pressley "Lee" Piner (30 years), Mascoutah High School, Mascoutah
10. *Elizabeth Ramseyer (23 years), Niles West High School, Skokie
11. *Mike Rogier (26 years), Belleville West High School, Belleville
12. *Bud Schultz (13 years), Dwight Township High School, Dwight
13. Rebecca Vieyra  (8 years), Cary-Grove High School, Cary
   *These teachers are on the ballot for the first time.
   +This teacher was on the ballot last year and updated his candidate information this year.

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. David Baxter, Galesburg High School, Galesburg

Nomination

Over the past two years I have had the distinct pleasure of working with David Baxter as his principal at Galesburg High School. In that time I have gotten to know him well in his role as a Physics teacher Science Department Chair. Our collaboration has proven productive and enjoyable; as David is a pleasure to work with and exemplifies the best qualities that one hopes to find in a team partner. Both professional and affable, David is an indispensable member of our team, always ready to converge on a given task with diligence and enthusiasm that never fails to see a task through to completion.

Mr. Baxter is a National Board Certified teacher and uses servant leadership to share his knowledge in the classroom and department. David commits long hours and much planning and organization to make his department and classroom run smoothly and effectively. He is an excellent communicator with a genuine kindness and humility displayed by putting other's needs ahead of his own. In addition to David's responsibilities as a teacher and Department Chair, he has supervised WYSE and started the Chess Club. His innovative teaching style and use of data to support students in our Science Department has led to positive changes throughout our building and improved academic performance and morale throughout our school.

I write this letter in unequivocal support of David Baxter, an exceptional teacher, colleague, leader, and human-being who is well deserving of the distinction of Science Teacher of the Year.

Nominated by:

Roy Van Meter, Supervisor (Principal)
rvanmeter@galesburg205.org
Jan. 31, 2014

Candidate Information

David Baxter (22 years)
Galesburg High School
1135 W. Fremont Street
Galesburg, Illinois 61401
(309) 973-2001
dbaxter@galesburg205.org
Feb. 11, 2014

Question 1:

There is a difference between getting a good grade and learning. I want to guide my students discover the difference between the two. I hope to inspire my students to choose to learn rather than just pursuing a grade because learning is so much more powerful, exciting, and fulfilling.

Question 2:

I strive to listen to my students as much as I talk to my students, and I provide space for the ideas to sink in and be processed. I fight the common teacher tendency to run over students with words and agendas.

I like to "tell the story of physics" because stories with interesting characters are more engaging than random facts. Stories are remembered and they help make sense of the facts. We often go back to the ancient Greek philosophers to start our stories, moving through the Dark Ages, up to Galileo, Kepler, Newton, and finally to more modern scientists.

I carefully craft my lessons to go from simple to more complex. I provide structure and organization for each new concept. And of course, I like to use humor to make class fun for the students and for myself.

Question 3:

I have tried to teach a "love of learning" as much as the learning itself. Favorite memories of mine include teaching Sylvia and Tyler in AP Physics. Sylvia was an excellent student but a self-confessed non physics person. She was willing to take a risk and take the class and discovered how much fun it was to learn Physics. She ended up loving physics! Tyler was used to coasting through school and nearly failed his first term of AP Physics. But then Tyler had that Ah-ha! moment and saw the difference between just getting assignments done versus actually digging in and learning. Tyler changed how he approached his education and I've never seen a student work so hard and enjoy it so much! The good grades followed as Tyler began to pursue learning.

The reward for me comes when my former students come back and visit after graduation and tell me what a difference our class made in their learning.

Question 4:

I have been searching for a better way to deliver course content for many years and my graduate courses reflect that. At first, I took courses in the modeling method and standards aligned curriculum. Then I learned website design as I explored putting my courses online. I moved away from developing my own website when I began learning to use Moodle. This has been one of the most exciting changes I've made in the classroom recently.

Many of my students push themselves much harder with each Moodle assignment compared to the book assignments. They really focus on learning the material and the techniques. They like the quick feedback provided online. I am still in the process of migrating my classes over to Moodle and I have many months ahead of me, but the process has been very rewarding for me and for my students.

Question 5:

I have had the opportunity to work with several student teachers and students doing observation work in preparation for student teaching. I am very proud of my profession and I enjoy passing on what I know to future teachers. Mentoring is a two way street and I often find that I pick up a few new ideas in exchange.

I've worked with my colleagues on standards aligned curriculum and recently, on the Next Generation Science Standards as our district begins to align with the new standards.

I'm gradually offering more and more assistance to other teachers as they begin to consider putting their courses on Moodle. Our district is not buying paper textbooks anymore, and we are looking for other ways to host and deliver course content. I've gotten a good head start with Moodle and I offer help to others when needed.

Question 6:

I have been studying the Next Generation Science Standards since they were first presented in draft form. The challenge for me was to gather up all of the pieces that fit under the Physics umbrella and arrange them in coherent courses. I had to make some changes in my curriculum and had to let go of a few things that were not represented in the standards as I added new topics that the NGSS included. I am currently weaving the NGSS into my courses, while coordinating with other teachers who teach related disciplines.

Question 7:

I am most pleased with the Physical Science experiments I developed while working with a colleague. We set aside the "cook book" method that usually requires students to follow a predetermined set of steps to arrive at a known outcome and instead, presented students with a question that required them to develop an experiment to find an answer. These experiments might be classified as "inquiry based" or "constructivist" but as we developed them our real goal was to give the students the opportunity to use the Scientific Method to help them find answers.

Our catapult contest and egg drop contest are always fun, but I make sure that we go beyond that and learn the Physics behind the fun. The concepts involve conservation of energy, projectile motion, momentum, and impulse. We have an electrical cook out day and cook hotdogs by including them in electrical circuits. I invented the Pirate Treasure Vector Game to help students learn about vector addition. The game is currently sold by Science Kit and Boreal Labs. We make liquid nitrogen ice cream. We make our own light bulbs. We have star parties and learn the constellations. And beyond this, I am still looking for that next innovation to help my students learn and love Physics.


2. William (Wes) Cooley, Lincoln-Way North High School, Frankfort

Nomination

When you work with individuals that only strive for the best, it makes you want to do the same. That is what Wes Cooley does for the science and math departments. His enthusiasm towards physics is infectious and makes teachers and students excited about the next step or lesson he is going to convey. I have worked with Wes for eight years, and throughout this entire time, he always puts his students' learning first. He does so through his creativity and his guided inquiry.

Wes has taught all levels of Physics, from our academically weaker Physical Science students to our gifted AP Physics students. The level of the class, never was a challenge for Wes, but rather a challenge for himself to meet the students' needs. In all cases he has been successful. In the past, Wes piloted an extended-time program for our low achievers, but it is what he is currently working on that deserves much praise.

I recently had a chance to watch Wes's class, and I left feeling inspired. In the realization that NGSS is making its move towards us, Wes is ahead of the curve. His students were working on finding the force of friction, and as I looked around, each group had a different set up. I asked Wes what the focus was for that lesson. He said, "On the board are the equations the students are familiar with. I told them to create their own experiment to find the force of friction for these materials." I watched, amazed as these seniors worked on their own experiments, but I was even more amazed when Wes took it one step further and had them make some adaptations. One group changed mass, one an angle, I left that room knowing I had just seen scientific magic and a physics teacher so confident and knowledgeable in his content, he knew just how to challenge his students.

Nominated by:

Maria Wilson, Department Chair
mawilson@lw210.org
Oct. 22, 2013

Candidate Information

William "Wes" Cooley (11 years)
Lincoln-Way North High School
19900 S Harlem Ave
Frankfort, IL 60423
815-412-4123
wcooley@lw210.org
Feb. 28, 2014

Question 1:

Students learn to love science by doing science. As a physics teacher, it is my responsibility to create experiences in the classroom through which my passion for science is absorbed by my students. I want my students to feel that the search for scientific knowledge is a worthwhile pursuit. My dream would be for all of my students to consider a STEM major and career; however as a realist I do want my students to understand and appreciate the contributions of scientists and engineers in our everyday lives. I believe that all students should have at least a fundamental understanding of essential topics in physics. It is my responsibility to introduce them to these topics in a way that generates an interest and appreciation for the topic. This interest arises from their prior experiences and generated experiences in the classroom.

Question 2:

My passion for physics, my classroom presentations and innovations, and the high expectations that I have for my students to reach their maximum potential makes me an outstanding physics teacher. I know that physics may not be the easiest subject for students to master, but I believe that the teacher and the classroom experiences a student has that contribute to the student's interest and enthusiasm for learning. When I meet people and I tell them that I am a physics teacher I never get a neutral response. Inevitably the ones who don't like physics had a bad experience or a bad teacher, and the ones who liked physics had a good experience with a good teacher. I continually strive to ensure that my students will respond positively when they meet a physics teacher in the future. By creating lecture and demonstration combinations that hold my student's attention and using frequent opportunities for them to manipulate laboratory equipment I am providing them positive experiences in physics. I am also a great teacher for the high expectations I have from all of my students for them to reach their fullest potential. I am constantly monitoring their progress and consistently use feedback from assignments and student self assessments to determine if there are any misconceptions that need to be addressed before the class is ready to move on to the next topic.

Question 3:

Every year I have quite a few students remind me of the positive impact I have had on their academic achievement. I have students that return to do observation hours for their physics teacher preparation programs. I have students that run into me outside of school that make a point to say "hi". Most of these interactions contain that former student's remembrance of a memorable classroom experience. Some of these are now students that I haven't seen in several years, so I can say that some of their experiences are now a part of their long term memory. I have students that are taking physics at the collegiate level contact me to either thank me for how well they have been prepared for that class in comparison to their peers, or to ask me for advice on a particularly challenging problem. It is great to read the local newspaper and read that students that you have had in the past are experiencing success in their own careers. I love this aspect of my job and I appreciate the potential amount of positive influence that I can have on some of my students.

Question 4:

The major professional development that I have undertaken is National Board Certification. I am proud to be a NBCT and am impressed with how the process requires a teacher to be extremely reflective on their teaching practices. This certification is not the end; I am always looking to implement new ideas and procedures in my teaching that might contribute to the success of my students.

In this time I have also attended several conferences on AP Physics B best practices. These have helped me to develop a successful AP experience for my seniors.

I have taken a lead role in our district curriculum review. I have encouraged our teachers to strive to be more efficient with our students' time. Fewer topics should lead to greater depth of knowledge, but more topics lead to a breadth of knowledge. This balance between opposing forces has required a high level of focus and collaboration.

Question 5:

Over the past two years I have served as the mentor teacher for the new physics teacher at Lincoln-Way North. His content knowledge is second to none, but we have discussed ways to improve his delivery to the students to maintain their interest, and to include more hands on activities and labs to enrich his student's classroom experience. He has become a valuable resource for new ideas and a fresh perspective. I have learned as much from him as he has learned from me.

Over the past several years our district has encouraged all of our teachers to observe the classroom of great teachers. I am honored when a colleague chooses my classroom for his observation hours. My door is always open and I try to keep the administration informed about especially cool lab or demo days. I have visitors to my classroom at least once a month. I know through their feedback that they are able to take back some ideas to use in their classroom and daily life.

I use an overhead camera projector and a Livescribe pen to record my lectures and problem solutions. This pen records the lecture notes and the audio, kind of like a Khan Academy video. The students are then able to access these notes and problem solutions on line at home if they need additional help. My student and their parents appreciate this additional support from technology. I have been requested to demonstrate this use of technology several times for various groups during staff development meetings.

Question 6:

Obviously with major changes in state testing and national standards we have all been busy trying to stay ahead of the curve on implementation. I feel like my ten years of mouse trap cars, catapults, and bridge building have finally been nationally recognized as worthwhile activities through the engineering components of the NGSS. I am not a "modeler" per se, but I have been implementing more true inquiry labs. I am trying to streamline their effectiveness with the amount of time that is required for completion. Our physics curriculum at Lincoln-Way North has always been rigorous, and I am constantly trying to maintain this high standard. Some of my colleagues see this shift to PARCC testing and the NGSS as an opportunity to cover less material. I think that we are still responsible to teach juniors and seniors in high school about basic kinematics even though the Physical Science standards start with Newton's Laws.

Question 7:

One of the teaching innovations that I am the most proud of are my "red star" labs. These laboratory experiences arose from the observation of student's reaction to a successful "ball in cup" lab. Every year some of the lab groups cheer when they have successfully predicted the location of the balls landing. I thought that there could be a way to make this reaction to a successful prediction of physical phenomena a main focus of our laboratory experiences. So, over the past several years, I have developed quite a few additional prediction labs that give the student a reason for collecting and interpreting their data: the receiving of a "red star". Here are some of the student driven, red star labs that we use in my physics classes.

1) Predicting the location of a collision using constant motion and accelerating vehicles. 2) Projectile launch through a ring stand hoop. 3) Collision - double ball in cup. 4) Measuring the length of the hallway with diffraction 5) Predicting the speed or height of a pendulum using conservation of energy. 6) Finding the fundamental frequency for different strings and tensions. 7) Predicting the voltage and current through a branch of a circuit.

I am always trying to modify the normal labs to have this predictive success component. The students are now always asking me how to earn their "red star" with any of their laboratory experiences. I am amazed at how much additional effort is put into their data collection and interpretation for a simple stamp.


3. Walter Glogowski, Ridgewood High School, Norridge

Nomination

Mr. Glogowski is one of the most creative and versatile teachers we have on our staff. He began teaching after working in research, doing actual science, for several years and is able to bring that experience to his classroom. He has taught biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, and several computer courses during his time at Ridgewood. Mr. Glogowski has been certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards for several years, showing his commitment to reflective teaching practices and also mentoring and coaching other teachers.

Mr. Glogowski has also provided genuine science research experiences for his students. He developed trips to Kitt Peak observatory in Arizona and radio telescopes through a university in West Virginia. These trips were usually during the summer, for which he volunteered his time. The trips provided opportunities for his students to work with college and graduate students as well as working astronomers. He has built "Rube Goldberg" machines for competitions with select students before and after school on a voluntary basis.

Mr. Glogowski also shares his excitement for science with the community. He has offered many telescope viewing sessions at night for grade-school students and local residents. He coordinated a community-wide multi-disciplinary learning event for a recent solar eclipse. He is respected by his peers, being elected President of the Chicago Astronomical Society. He brings all these experiences back to his classroom to inspire his students' interest in scientific research.

I cannot think of a science educator more deserving to be selected as the Illinois Outstanding High School Physics Teacher.

Nominated by:

Cheryl Flinn, Administrator
cflinn@ridgenet.org
Dec. 17, 2013

Candidate Information

Walter Glogowski (21 years)
Ridgewood High School
1873 Bosworth Ln
Northfield, Illinois 60093
8479102878
wglogowski@gmail.com
Feb. 16, 2014

Question 1:

Foremost, I believe that students must be active participants in their education in order to get any benefit out of the curriculum which I teach. I also believe that experimentation must be significant, integrated, and tightly correlated to any lecture. With this said, students need to be guided through inquiry to allow them to develop the basic and advanced techniques of experimental observation and analysis. Guiding students in this fashion helps them develop critical and independent thinking skills and it encourages them to make abstract connections between the topics which I teach. I try to never introduce a new idea with only a lecture. Instead I design learning experiences that allow my students to master the material while gaining experience about the process of science. Teaching is a second career for me. Previous to teaching, I worked at Northwestern University's McGraw Medical Center in Chicago for fourteen years. When I began teaching at my current high school in 1995, I quickly realized that the curriculum which I was required to teach at that time was lacking the "experiences" that one gains while doing research. I realized that much of the high school curriculum that I used to teach did not include the process of understanding experimentation. It was at that time only of process of trying to find the source of error in activities that had been performed numerous times by countless classes. I decided to write a proposal for a grant from the GTE Corporation. As part of this grant, I applied to become a, GIFT Fellow (Growth Initiatives for Teachers) 1997-1998. I won the grant and received a $12,000 to implement an integrated curriculum centered on student research. My classroom became a place where my students focus on what they understand about the physical world around them, thereby gaining a deeper understanding about the nature and process of that world by doing research. Finally, I bring my passion for astronomy into my curriculum whenever I can. It has been my experience that students are naturally curious about the Universe and I capitalize on this curiosity by engaging them in projects that require higher-order thinking. Part of the grant that I received was used to construct a 4-meter radio telescope that my classes still use to this day.

Question 2:

I believe that I am an outstanding physics teacher because I have the ability to engage my students in critical thinking no matter what level they are at. I have always thought that it is easy to teach the highest performing students. Oftentimes, they have a natural curiosity about the physical world along with a natural ability to analyze problems and they are able to make connections between concepts that are taught. They also usually go home and do all of their assigned work and are well-prepared for class. On the other hand, the average students or the "challenging" students commonly struggle to make connections and they sometimes see little worth in taking physics. It is obviously much more difficult to teach these students. I am proud to say that I have had tremendous success with the students in this category with which other teachers may struggle. I develop unique curricula for these students whereby they learn all of the common physics principles but these principles are wrapped around unique projects that they perform. For example, when I was teaching my students about vector analysis of forces, they walked into my classroom in which boxes of different sizes and shapes were suspended from the ceiling. The boxes were labeled with the mass that each one represented. Additionally, the boxes were suspended by one or more ropes which simulated the "real-world" suspension of objects that they see in their neighborhoods, such as traffic signs, lights, and general signs. Another more current example is my one-to-one iPad class that I am running this year. After reading about a University of Illinois Chemistry Professor who had developed an analytical software application that can analyze light spectra and a separate iPhone app called SpectraSnapp created by James Roche of the American Physics Society, I began to brainstorm ways that my students could use both applications to perform a research project. I read an on-line source about remote sensing and the "bones" of a project came together for me to incorporate into my classroom. My students use the SpectraSnapp app to obtain light spectra from laboratory reference sources (emission tube spectra) and from light sources and the reflection of this light source to analyze the emission and absorption spectra. The project evolved into each student building the spectra-collecting attachment for their iPad, collecting individual data, analyzing that data and writing a scientific abstract and short paper on his/her research. Finally, in 2003 I was chosen as a NASA Educator Ambassador for the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescopes. As an Educator Ambassador for the Fermi space mission, I attended two week long workshops at Sonoma State University during those summers in which I learned about the physics of the Fermi space telescope and the other NASA space missions from the principal investigators of those missions. Because I was chosen as an ambassador, I am able to bring my knowledge about the physics behind these space missions into my classroom. These are just a few examples from different points of my career in which I have striven to find ways to bring unique learning experiences into my classroom for my students.

Question 3:

I have always attempted to find ways to involve my students in extracurricular physics-related activities, which have had great impact on them. One example is a program that I am involved in called Educational Research in Radio Astronomy. Since 1998, I have been a co-coordinator in University of North Carolina's Educational Research in Radio Astronomy (http://skynet.unc.edu/erira/about/) in Chapel Hill. The program is for college and university students who are interested in physics and astronomy but I bring to the program 3 or 4 high school students from my school. They work for one week at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, WV doing astronomical research alongside the university students from across the nation who act as mentors for my students. Dr. Daniel Reichart, an astrophysics professor at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill started the program while he was a graduate student at the University of Chicago. I meet Dan when I was implementing a "maker" lab curriculum in my physics class. The students were making a small dish radio telescope from a grant which I won from the GTE cooperation. At the time, Dan was a graduate student working in the lab of a microwave astronomer, Dr. John Carlstrom. I was looking for help and I contacted Dr. Carlstrom and he, in turn, asked Dan if he would help "this high school teacher who was trying to build a radio telescope." Dan was more than willing to help me set up not only my dish but also work with my students. It was at this time that he invited both my students into the Educational Research in Radio Astronomy program and me into the program as a co-coordinator. The exposure to the program for my students has been life changing! Most of the students at my school do not attend a four-year college. Most of the students come from homes where both parents are recent immigrants to the country and English is not spoken at home. Over three-quarters of the students that I have taken into the program are females. All of the students who have attended the program have gone on to attend a four-year school college and half of those students have pursued advanced degrees in a field of science or medicine.

Another example of my impact on my students was when I helped four of my students apply for a grant to the National Optical Astronomical Observatory at Kitt Peak in Tuscon, Arizona. They applied to study a type of star called Cataclysmic Variable star named a POLAR with the WYIN telescope. POLAR's have intense magnetic fields of thousands of Gauss and a companion star which orbits them. The companion star accretes from its atmosphere onto the POLAR which causes the POLAR to 'flash' in luminosity when it ignites the hydrogen that the companion is accreting. My students won the grant which gave them the opportunity to study the Polar with the WYIN telescope for three nights atop the mountain with a professional astronomer as their mentor at Kitt Peak. For juniors in high school, this had a life changing impact on their lives. One of the female students was accepted into the University of Chicago, another female student went into a science program at the University of Florida. The two male students who were also on the team attended engineering programs in Colorado. All of these students are now first generation college graduates. As for the students that do not go on extend academic field-trips, I create projects and opportunities for them to become involved while at school, such as the aforementioned radio telescope project within my physics and astronomy classes.

Question 4:

I am activity involved in the scientific community and I actively attempt to develop opportunities in which my students can participate. Most of my professional development activities are associated in the field of astrophysics because of my previously mentioned connection with the University of Chicago's Astrophysics Department and the University of North Carolina's Educational Research in Radio Astronomy Program. Once the U of C's Dr. Reichart and I became good friends, I was introduced to other professional astronomers. The astrophysics community is a relatively small group and it amazes me how becoming friend with Dr. Reichart has professionally changed my life as an educator.

Since 2001, I have worked along with professors and graduate students in the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago to develop activities for and participate in the program called 'Space Explorers' - a program that specifically brings approximately thirty underprivileged, Chicago inner-city, minority school age students to the U of C's Yerkes Observatory (Williams Bay, WI) for week-long science education programs that meet twice a year. I routinely work with graduate students to implement the program for the school age students and working with these graduate students in this program gives me access to cutting edge scientific researchers. For example, this past winter I worked with a graduate student who was doing research at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Switzerland) for the past two years on neutrinos. I also worked alongside Dr. Juan Collar who is doing research at U of C and Fermi Lab on hypothetical astroparticles (WIMP's, anions and magnetic monopoles). Working alongside professionals such as these gives me the unique opportunity to speak to them about science and thereby learn cutting edge astrophysics from them. It is by participating in these out-reach activities that I am invited into the labs of the professors who help in the Space Explorers Program. Of course, I am a member of numerous scientific organizations and I routinely attend local and national meetings and I have made presentations at these meetings.

Question 5:

I am activity involved in my school's mentoring program for new teachers and I have mentored four new physics teachers in the last six years at my school. I also mentor teachers outside of my school district because of my involvement in my school articulation meetings with our 'feeder' school districts. Additionally, I have given seminars at Yerkes Observatory entitled "Stars at Yerkes" a program for ~6-12 teachers who are interested in bringing real scientific research into their schools. I have had a few student teachers but this depends on my Department Chair first offering them the opportunity to work within our Department.

Question 6:

I always embraced the 'old' Illinois Science Learning Standards and the National Science Standards in my curriculum. Currently, I am activity writing curriculum and implementing the Next Generation Science Standards. Specifically, I read the standards and 'dissect' my curriculum to see how I am addressing the thematic content required by these learning standards. If I find that I am not addressing one or more of the 'strands' within the standards, I re-develop my curriculum to incorporate those strands. As a trained researcher, I understand the process of science and how to interpret the science education standards and move them into the classroom. I view all science, not only physics, as an integrated pursuit of knowledge, understanding, and life-long learning. This view is reinforced by the professional physicists and cosmologists who I personally know and who speak to me about their research. They understand that their fields are entwined within other fields of science. So, for example, when I read the Next Generation Science Standard HS-PS3-4

Plan to conduct an investigation to provide evidence that the transfer of energy when two components of different temperatures are combined within a closed system results in a more uniform energy distribution among the components in the system.

I see this standard as a way to bring together ideas about the Second Law of Thermodynamics that students learned in chemistry into the physics classroom and to help bridge the principles of the second law into their junior year biology class in which they can apply this Law towards the explanation of why a seed contains stored energy and nutrients. Physics and chemistry lay the groundwork for students to understand that, after the seed's germination, the embryo will grow and develop into a tree in which free energy was required for the embryo to grow into an organized tree. They will learn that the source of this energy was sunlight, which is harnessed through photosynthesis, and which requires an understanding of light. Hopefully they will remember and be able to apply the time they studied light with the iPad and spectra application in physics (previously described above)! Therefore, I can say that I read and attempt to understand the standards as a blueprint that teachers need to follow in order to bring rich and rewarding educational experiences to their students through project- and problem-based education.

Question 7:

One of the teaching innovations that I created and that my department now uses is the idea of "laboratory captains." All laboratory captains meet with the teacher the day before a laboratory activity is planned and they review the activity in detail with the teacher. It is during this time that the teacher explains the lab and answers any questions about the lab to the captains. The day of the lab, each 'captain' is responsible for leading his or her group, usually 3 students, in the laboratory investigation. The captain is responsible for answering questions about equipment setup, data collection, and he/she attempts to make connections with other topics that were taught in the course. They are also responsible for leading the post-lab written report session. This allows the teacher more time to circulate around during both the lab and the post-lab writing session to ask probing questions of the students and to correct any misconceptions about the activity. Just as importantly, this allows students to take leadership rolls during lab and to become 'the teacher'. This is especially important for quiet students who would otherwise never take a leadership role in class and for some female students who do not like to take leadership roles with male students. This innovation has changed the dynamic of labs by taking away the role of the dominant student with a dynamic personality that may possibly monopolize all aspects of the laboratory activity on a routine basis.


4. Martin Kulak, James B. Conant High School, Hoffman Estates

Note:  There are two nomination letters.

Nomination 1

Martin Kulak has demonstrated his skill in teaching all levels of the physical sciences from Physical Science to Advanced Placement Physics. His interactive and engaging style motivates and excites students to truly want to understand Physics. He instills in his students the importance of hard work at any level while also enjoying what they are doing. Year after year, Martin's students perform very well on the Advanced Placement Physics B Exam with most students earning a passing score.

Martin has always used various technologies to help his students better understand Physics concepts. Over the last two years he has utilized iPads in a 1:1 program for all the students in his courses to further enhance his teaching practices. Through the use of various applications his students have created annotated videos to explain difficult concepts to other students. His use of hands on lab activities allows his students to interact with each other and with equipment to better understand physics. He has developed several game simulations for students to practice the mathematical side of physics and to simulate lab situations that are not possible inside a classroom. In addition, he will be presenting at the ICE Conference in February 2014 and has presented most recently at a 1:1 Summit on creating game simulations for all subject areas.

Martin is an outstanding Physics teacher and person. He truly exemplifies excellence in teaching and in his collegial relationships. I highly recommend him as the Illinois High School Physics Teacher of the Year.

Nominated by:

Sharon L. McCoy, Science Department Chair and colleague
smccoy@d211.org
Nov. 27, 2013

Nomination 2

I would like to nominate Marin Kulak for the Physics Teacher of the Year Award through the Illinois Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers. Martin Kulak is the teacher and coach that all students want to have. He is very passionate about working with students and has natural love for teaching. Because of this, he seeks excellence in each and every lesson and in all of his student interactions. A trip to his class will find his students engaged and participating in learning. Mr. Kulak uses humor to keep his classes fun and to keep students on task. He is constantly trying new approaches and assessing its effectiveness.

Mr. Kulak is always pushing himself to do even better. Even though Mr. Kulak is a physics teacher, he feels it vital that students become great learners. Because of this Mr. Kulak has championed for both students and teachers the importance of using assessment feedback. He teaches students how to make adjustment to their learning by utilizing electronic feedback from assessments he has designed. In turn his students can decide in which areas of physics study they need to put more emphasis. They also learn how to be better overall learners.

Mr. Kulak has taught classes for teachers that instructs them how to also utilize feedback from assessments to improve their teaching and their students' learning. He has shared his expertise at local conventions and national conferences. Mr. Kulak is constantly raising the level of performance of his classes, department, school and profession. He would be a great representative for Physics Teacher of the Year.

Nominated by:

Robert Small, Administrative Supervisor
rsmall@d211.org
Jan. 29, 2015

Candidate Information

Martin Kulak (16.5 years)
James B. Conant High School
700 E. Cougar Trail
Hoffman Estates, IL 60169
8477553816
mkulak@d211.org
Feb. 17, 2015

Question 1:

My philosophy is always evolving. Students need time to play, time to fail, and time to practice. The more the students DO themselves, the more questions they begin to ask on their own. Once the students begin to ask questions, they have taken ownership of their own learning.

Question 2:

I work tirelessly to improve my lessons and to make them fun, engaging, and require the students to think on their own. I am never satisfied at the end of the day and I always think I can do better. I have an upbeat and personable teaching style and I try to give each of my students the individual attention they need to feel comfortable to take chances and grow...both as learners and as people.

Question 3:

First, I have two former students teaching along side of me here at Conant, along with two former student teachers employed and teaching physics.

My proudest moments are when students talk about how they used physics in the real world. Many stories come to mind...I will never forget when I received a phone call from a concerned parent because his son and two friends were building a "rather large" trebuchet in the garage after a lecture on conservation of energy...or when another student constructed a working Sterling engine from household materials after a lecture on heat engines...or that other student who made a ballistic pendulum with his dad to determine the muzzle velocity of their potato cannon.  When students take what we teach them in class and apply it to their own lives, I believe that is making an impact.

In addition to my classroom, all of my lectures can be found on my team's iTunes U course (see innovation section). It is quite rewarding to receive emails from students all over the world thanking me for the lecture videos I provided. I love the fact that my teaching is impacting learners all over the world.

Question 4:

  • Along with 3 colleagues, I am a Featured Speaker at the ASTE (Alaska Society for Technology) Conference in Anchorage, Alaska this weekend.

  • I have attended the February ICE (Illinois Computing Educators) Conference the past two years.

  • I attend Physics Northwest (northwest suburban physics professional learning team) meetings

  • I attended the Computational Thinking and Mathematical Modeling Workshop at Niles North High School two years ago

  • I attended/presented the District 211 One to One Summit in November the past two years

Question 5:

  • I am the Leader of the District 211 Physics Teacher PLT (all the physics teachers in District 211)

  • Along with 3 colleagues, I am a Featured Speaker at the ASTE (Alaska Society for Technology) Conference in Anchorage, Alaska

  • I co-taught a day long workshop on developing physics rich based games/simulations for the classroom at the District 211 One to One Summit in November and will be doing the same at the February ICE (Illinois Computing Educators) Conference

  • I am the lead teacher for a workshop titled "Teaching the Physical Sciences using iPads" at the February ICE Conference

  • I have hosted Physics Northwest (northwest suburban physics professional learning team) twice at Conant High School and regularly share ideas at the meeting.

  • I have been the cooperating teacher for two student teachers in the past 3 years.

  • I have co-taught several in-district workshops during institute days on using technology in the classroom

Question 6:

The NGSS is a balance of content and skills weaved together. I feel I do a pretty decent job of this in my classroom...in a typical unit each student starts out with a simulation in which they try to figure out what variables effect another variable. Like in my electrostatics unit: what effects the force between two charges. Then the students take measurements and graph the relationships. From there, I give them some lectures and we practice on the content. At the end of the unit, I try to have another project where they show me what they know.

Question 7:

I was part of the pilot year for our districts 1 to 1 program, where we gave all of our students iPads. At the time, there was not much in the way of free simulations that worked on the iPad (Phet had not started the HTML5 simulations and their library of sims did not work in any mobile device).  I and a couple of colleagues decided that we should start creating simulations that would work on the iPa.  Our work is available for all to use at www.simbucket.org (take a look).

I was also a leader in data driven teaching in our district. When giving a quiz or test, each question is tagged with a specific objective for the unit. After taking the test, scores are given per objective, rather than the traditional total score. This shifted the conversations among the students/teachers from "I got a 'B'" to "I get Coulomb's Law problems, but I need help on method's of charging". From a teachers perspective, I can look at how my students performed per objective and then address the specific areas my students need work. Many of the teachers in our district are now using a similar approach in assessment.


5. Martha Lietz, Niles West High School, Skokie

Nomination

It is with great pleasure I nominate Martha Lietz, Niles West Physics teacher, for the High School Teacher of the Year Award. Martha is an outstanding teacher who has made many contributions to physics education at varying levels: Niles West High School, District 219 Niles Township, the State of Illinois, and the Nation. I am impressed by Martha's ability to work with students in and out of the classroom. Nationally Board certified and a master of her subject area. Martha has been a major contributor to the AP Physics program as a leader and test developer. Not only does Martha help our students at West she has an impact on all students nationwide. I highly recommend Martha for this award.

Nominated by:

Ami LeFevre, Director of Science Niles West
amilef@d219.org
Jan. 9, 2015

Candidate Information

Martha Lietz (24 years)
Niles West High School
5701 Oakton Street
Skokie, Illinois 60077
847-626-2772
marlie@d219.org
Feb. 22, 2015

Question 1:

I believe that my purpose in the classroom is to help the students grow as critical thinkers, as problem solvers and as life-long learners. I believe that this can be done by providing them with a rigorous curriculum that demonstrates the real-world applications of what they are learning, and provides them with a relaxed and fun environment in which to learn. I believe that students should be brought together in the classroom and provided with demonstrations, labs and other critical thinking activities that give them the opportunity to engage interactively with each other and with the content. I believe that students themselves can often be the best teachers for their peers.

I believe that students should learn not just the content of science, the basic facts and details, but more importantly the process of science as a way of understanding the world around them. I believe in teaching them to use the tools of science, both cognitive and technological. Students need not only to understand Newton's Laws, but also motion detectors, force sensors, spreadsheets and simulations as tools for investigating the world around them and visualizing the invisible.

I believe that students learn most from teachers who genuinely care about them and their interests, and not just about their scores on the tests. I believe that my role in the classroom is more than just as a teacher of physics, but as an example for how to be a compassionate, well-rounded human being.

Question 2:

I use my knowledge of physics, my pedagogical content knowledge, my sense of humor and compassion to connect with students. I truly enjoy teaching high school students, and that comes across to the students as a passion for my job and a strong connection with them individually.

An outstanding teacher knows how to present the content to the students in coherent, logical way, guiding the students to discover the joys of physics. I present the students with many and varied activities that allow them to explore, develop and deepen their understanding. I use Interactive Lecture Demonstrations, tutorials, inquiry-based labs, Think-Pair-Share, clicker questions, TIPERs and other research-based tools to get them to engage with the content. I organize the content so that their understanding builds and forms a coherent foundation for future learning.

I engage students in Socratic dialogue, as a class and individually. I ask questions to ascertain what they currently believe. I listen carefully to their responses. I ask questions to get them to clarify their thinking. I ask questions that allow them to consider a new perspective, and lead them to an accurate understanding. I lead the students in class discussions, helping share and explore their ideas with each other.

I maintain a website with resources for students to facilitate "anywhere, anytime learning."

I use humor liberally to relax the students; I listen to their personal problems; I help them with their math homework; and I show them how to be compassionate.

Question 3:

It is difficult to know the true impact that our teaching has on our students. I hope that I have taught them to think more clearly and solve problems like an expert, but I also hope that I have shown them examples of what it means to be a compassionate, caring and kind person. I keep an album with thank- you notes and emails from former students, and I pull it out for inspiration on those rare difficult days. Students thank me for making physics a class they look forward to every day, even though it is the hardest class they ever took. They thank me for my compassion, and all the hours of help during free periods and after school. They tell me they were afraid to take physics, but now they find they actually enjoy it. They thank me for listening when they were having family issues, or friend issues. They thank me for the letters of recommendation. And some of them even tell me that because of me, because of my course, they are going to be a physics major. One young woman wrote to thank me for encouraging her to consider engineering: she graduated from college and got a good engineering job and never would have considered that had I not suggested it to her

I have twice been selected as "Most Inspirational Teacher" by the National Honor Society. I have four times been selected as "Most Inspirational Teacher" by the Science Department Award winner.

Question 4:

During the past five years, I have attended local section and national AAPT meetings. In fact, I have attended every national AAPT meeting since the winter of 2011. I have participated in physics teacher alliances including Physics Northwest and Illinois State Physics Project (ISPP). This fall, I attended the AP Science Symposium at Hinsdale Central High School, sharing ideas about teaching AP Physics with other Chicago-area physics teachers. I will be attending the NSTA meeting in Chicago, March 12-14.

I have participated in the AP Physics Reading in June, grading exams, for four of the last five years. I have trained as an AP Physics consultant to prepare other teachers to teach AP Physics. I have trained to be mentor for other AP consultants.

I served as the College Board Advisor (CBA) for the AP Physics C Development Committee from August, 2010 until June, 2012. The CBA works with the committee to write the AP exams, and also serves as a liaison to the College Board, helping to develop teacher training materials. I served as CBA to the AP Physics 2 Development Committee from June of 2012 until June of 2014. I currently serve as a member of the AP Physics 2 Development Committee.

I have attended local insitute day trainings related to the use of the iPad, equity in the classroom, Google Apps, Schoology, and other topics. I have participated in our district's Technology in the Classroom and Assessment for Learning courses.

Question 5:

As a consultant for the College Board, I present one-day workshops and week-long summer institutes (APSIs), preparing teachers to teach AP Physics courses. I have presented ten APSIs over the last five years.

As CBA, I helped develop a lab guide for the new AP Physics 1 and 2 courses, as well as a syllabus development guide to help teachers meet the new course requirements. I have presented several workshops at the National AAPT meetings on topics ranging from TIPERs in the HIgh School classroom to Inquiry-Based Labs.

I served as Chair of the Committee on Physics in High Schools for AAPT, helping to organize sessions and workshops for high school teachers at the national AAPT meeting. I am currently working with Steve Iona and some high school teachers to develop some new offerings for high school teachers at the meeting in Maryland.

I have served as the Section Representative for the Chicago Section AAPT, helping to organize several fall/ spring meetings. I hosted the Spring 2011 meeting in Chicago, including inviting a nationally- known PER professor to address our group. I run the registration for our meetings online, as well as the call for papers.

I maintain the email lists for ISPP and CSAAPT, sending reminders on at least monthly basis about meetings and other local events of interest to physics teachers in the Chicago area.

I currently serve as a mentor for a non-tenured Chemistry teacher at Niles West.

Question 6:

For 25 years I have taught AP Physics, adhering to the national standards as set forward by the College Board. I taught AP Physics C for 24 years, and this year I am teaching the new AP Physics 1 course. The AP Science Practices (as described in the Curriculum Framework for AP Physics 1 & 2) mirror the Science and Engineering Practices in the NGSS curriculum.

I have used ranking tasks, bar-chart tasks, conceptual reasoning tasks and other TIPERs to help the students develop and use models in their understanding of physics. I have used inquiry-based labs to help the students learn to plan and carry out investigations of circular motion, friction and other physics topics. I have also used these labs to help the students learn to analyze and interpret the data they take during their laboratory investigations. I provide rigorous practice for them to help them grow in their use of mathematics and computational thinking. I teach them to use spreadsheets both for data analysis and for difficult computations. I teach them support arguments with evidence, and to support claims and predictions using physical laws and data from experiments. I teach them to communicate these arguments both orally and in written form. They learn to defend their laboratory designs and results to their peers in class discussion, and they learn to write paragraph-length explanations for predictions and claims.

Question 7:

I have two articles published in The Physics Teacher. The first one (April 2000) describes a Gauss' law lab. It is a new twist on a traditional equipotential mapping lab. The students measure the potential along radial lines for a set of concentric silver ink circles. They are then asked to determine if this electrode configuration simulates concentric spheres or concentric cylinders by plotting their data and comparing it to the theoretical potential as a function of radius.

The second article (April 2007) describes a circuit demonstration made from electric lighting fixtures. I got the idea from a teacher at a workshop in Oregon, and I modified the circuit to be more complex. I then created four more circuits and changed the demonstration into a review activity. The students observe the brightness of the bulbs and the changes as one or more bulbs are removed, and work backwards to determine how the circuit has been constructed. I call it a "working backwards lab", since it is similar to the Working Backwards Tasks in the TIPERs books.

I developed an on-line lab for my students to calculate the universal gravitational constant, G, of the PhET universe in the "My Solar System" simulation. The students vary the radius and "experimentally" determine the velocity which creates a circular orbit at that radius. They then plot the square of the speed versus the inverse of the radius. The slope of this graph can be used to calculate G.


6. Eric Malvik, Nokomis High School, Nokomis

Nomination

I am honored to write this short letter in support of Mr. Malvik. I have personally witnessed the incredibly high quality of engaging instruction that typifies Mr. Malvik's courses. He designs labs that are developmentally appropriate and challenges students to go beyond their self-imposed limitations while helping them reach those goals. Mr. Malvik routinely goes the extra mile for students that struggle by keeping office hours both before and after the school day at Nokomis High School. He diligently prepares to be excellent every day and strives to meet students academic, social, and behavioral needs. Even as I write this letter, I am struggling to find the right words to convey to you the depth of professionalism and instructional excellence that is Mr. Malvik. Perhaps the greatest compliment that I can bestow upon Mr. Malvik is that I wish my son and daughter were able to benefit from his instruction, compassion, and expertise. Thank you, Erik.

Nominated by:

Eric Bruder, principal
ericbruder@nokomis.k12.il.us
Nov. 27, 2013

Candidate Information

Erik Malvik (5 years)
Nokomis High School
511 Oberle Street
Nokomis, Illinois 62075
3092305329
erikmalvik@nokomis.k12.il.us
Feb. 28, 2014

Question 1:

My teaching philosophy for science is that the students should understand the process of science and be an integral part in that process. I am the guide, the prompter, and the questioner, but I am not the answer giver. It is important for the students to understand that the knowledge in their books has come from the same process that they do during their labs, and that they can build their own scientific knowledge base just by observing and testing the things around them.

Question 2:

I try to make connections to the students while also keeping my expectations high. I try to balance the rigor and challenge of physics with fun projects, assignments, and different classroom activities that give students more ownership of the classroom. I have learned that the more ownership the students have of the classroom, the more engaged they will be in any topic.

Question 3:

I have not been teaching for too long, but I understand that teaching physics at a small school means that not many of may students will go on to major in physics in college. Many of my students enjoy the active classroom that I give them and the respect that I treat them with. I know that I am more than a physics teacher to many of them, and that my impact is teaching them that if they have the ability to succeed in a difficult class such as physics, then they can achieve other difficult goals as well.

Question 4:

I have been to ISTA conferences for the previous 4 years. I have also been to differentiated instruction seminars, common core seminars, and have taken a class on the NGSS.

Question 5:

I have completed a mentoring program as a mentee, which is part of the professional development for both the mentor and the mentee. Since I am a new teacher, I have been leaning on others for assistance much more than they have been seeking it from me.

Question 6:

My classroom is all about the process of science and engineering. I have incorporated new technology as well. In the past year, we have done engineering projects for the egg drop, a car crash, designing slides to reach the ground in a certain amount of time, and designing 2-liter rockets. I have students use technology to collect data, such as motion detectors, and model motion using graphs and mathematical equations.

Question 7:

I don't know if I have innovations, but I have my own style of the modeling curriculum from Arizona State University. I have incorporated different engineering projects (both short and long) into the curriculum over the years, which always peaks the students' interest. I also enjoy giving the students' opportunities to argue their point of views and their findings for labs. I incorporate my class website as a communication tool for the students to upload projects, lab data, maintain blogs, and view assignments. Overall, I try to keep things interesting and fresh for me and the students.


7. Michael Marchizza, Edinburg District #4 High School, Edinburg

Nomination

Mr. Michael Marchizza is a dynamic instructor! Of all teachers, high school students express an outward eagerness to get to "Chizza's" classes. Class content is challenging because Mr. Marchizza loves his craft of teaching and the sciences. He brings life to his classroom with demonstrations, hands-on learning, experimentation, and ... he's known to have started a fire or two (on accident).

Mr. Marchizza taught for 31 years in the state of Maryland, including biology, physics, chemistry, microbiology, biotechnology applications, bioethics, physical science, environmental science, molecular biology, microbiology, biotechnology applications 1 and 2, and advanced placement biology. He has taught every grade level from 9th through 12th. He helped create a Biotechnology magnet program. He includes DNA sciences, gel electrophoresis, scanning electron microscopy, and bacteriology/immunology into his lessons. He has served as science department chair (at his past district), serves as class sponsor, and participates in any and all student activities. At his past district, he was involved in research comparing DNA sequences at the Smithsonian Summer Research Experience for Teachers where he learned laboratory techniques to extract, purify, amplify, and sequence small segments of DNA. He brought all of this experience to life at Edinburg High School where I believe our students have the best instruction and experience, in a small rural school which lacks proper funding. Mr. Marchizza spends his own money to purchase items for his classes. He also has weekly bake sales where the profits go back into his science fund which also serves to purchase supplies for his classes.

Mr. Marchizza has been continuously employed by Edinburg CUSD #4 for the last 8 years. He is well liked by all faculty and staff. His positive, out-going, never-take-life-for-granted personality plays not only a positive role on our students but staff, parents, board members, and anyone who comes into contact with him. He welcomes elementary classes into his high school classes. High school physics students (and others) form positive relationships with our elementary students as well as experiment together. He even lets me join in on the fun (sometimes). Speed, rate of speed, and a lot of tough math are a few of the topics covered in physics. Rocket days (setting off rockets) rank pretty high with students also. High speed car races and chases come to life in the hallways (where childhood motor sounds come in handy). He makes me miss teaching more than I already do; his classes, on a daily basis, touch an important topic that applies to students' lives. When you see those "ah-ha" moments and the light bulbs turn on, and when you see students not only eager to get to his classroom but to want to learn more, you know that your teacher is making a huge difference in students' lives. When our graduates/alumni return for various functions, I have found one of the first questions they ask is, "Is 'Chizza' still here? He was the best!"

Without a doubt, and without hesitation, I nominate Michael Marchizza to be recognized as the Illinois Outstanding High School Physics Teacher award. In a small school that most people do not know exists, on a small to zero budget, he makes a HUGE difference.

Nominated by:

Patty Hilliard, Superintendent
philliard@ecusd4.com
Nov. 13, 2013

Candidate Information

Michael Marchizza (40 years)
Edinburg District #4 High School
465 Quail Roost Ct
Sherman, Illinois 62684
217-725-6828
trekkin@live.com
Jan. 3, 2014

Question 1:

As a science teacher, I believe that doing science is as important as understanding the concepts involved. Science should be something that students explore hands-on with as many opportunities as possible. It is also my belief that the teacher can make the subject exciting or interesting regardless of the topic just by being passionate themselves about the subject. Finally I believe that the classroom environment should be inviting, stimulating, and one where the students feel comfortable and safe.

Question 2:

I think that mostly what makes my an outstanding physics teacher is that I am not a physicist and did not major or minor in physics or any physical science. So when I became a physics teacher due to the school's needs, I understood enough physics to relate to the students in a non-threatening manner. In other words, the students saw through me that physics can be understood and that you didn't have to be a "rocket scientist" or math wizard to do or understand physics.

Question 3:

I feel that my enthusiasm and passion for science has instilled in my students an excitement and interest in science and particularly an appreciation of physics. I believe it is my methodology and philosophy about learning as well as my attitude and passion for science that leaves students with an everlasting impact of at the very least not fearing science and at the very most gaining a deep appreciation for science.

Question 4:

During the past 5 years I have participated in workshops involving strategic aligned classrooms, chemistry taught in rural high schools, positive behavior initiatives, and common core standards. Having began my teaching career in 1974, I have seen many changes in education, and obviously have seen many types of reforms, reworkings, and revisions about what we teach, how we teach and who we teach.

Question 5:

I have mentored many younger teachers as well as people new to the teaching career. I have done my best to model my teaching methods, discuss my teaching philosophy, share my teaching experiences as much as possible.

Question 6:

Since I teach at a small rural high school now, I am the sole high school science teacher. Therefore I teach the biology, biology II, chemistry, physics, earth science, and anatomy & physiology classes. I incorporate the science teaching standards in every area, every grade level that I teach. The standards have been incorporated into my lesson plans in the form of labs, projects, power point production, lectures, field trips, science fairs, and other class-related activities.

Question 7:

In my earlier years of teaching I was one of the first teachers to use technology in the form of powerpoint, web pages, and online science activities. However that was many years ago. As of late I cannot say that I have though of any new innovations. I do always try to make each and every topic special, exciting, and something that the students will find interesting, and perhaps even want to learn more on their own. My newest innovative techniques would have to be the ways that I am exploring incorporating the common core standards into my various science classes including physics.


8. Jack Marino, Maine South High School, Park Ridge

Nomination

Jack Marino is without a doubt the most highly respected teacher in our school by both students and his colleagues. He is the type of person who truly touches other people's lives by knowing them and makes you want to strive to be a better person yourself. Students in Mr. Marino's classes not only learn physics in a deeper way than they ever have before, but also learn about what it means to truly treat others with dignity. His care and concern for his students is matched only by the passion with which he teaches. He has the highest level of integrity of any person I have ever met, while also being humble, humorous, and extremely dedicated to his profession.

I have been the Science Department Chair at Maine South for the last twelve years and have observed Mr. Marino teach numerous times. Each time I step into his classroom, whether he is teaching our highest level of AP Physics or our lowest level of Transitional Physics, I walk away with a better understanding of the topic than I had before. Mr. Marino has a captivating way of explaining concepts by building stories and connections around them. One example of this is his incorporation of "Physics Wonders", which are short presentations he makes to his classes regarding an everyday phenomena to try to get at the physics behind it. Over the last couple of years, Mr. Marino has been running a "flipped classroom" for his AP students for which he has created a set of YouTube videos for them to watch on their own so that their time in class can be spent on discussion and peer learning opportunities. Mr. Marino's physics videos have been increasingly viewed by people all around the world, and he has received many comments from viewers such as, "I would have never made it through my physics course without these." Mr. Marino has mastered the "modeling method" of teaching physics and engages students with the material in authentic ways. During his class, he poses questions to his students in such a way that the students are not sure whether or not he has the answer to them. Then the whole class will get involved in a discussion during which Mr. Marino becomes an integrated part instead of the leader until the question is resolved. It is a fascinating experience to observe and be a part of, and I have not seen another teacher replicate this effect in the same way. Perhaps this is because at his core, Mr. Marino is a learner himself, and he is always looking for new ideas, information, and techniques to use in the classroom.

Mr. Marino has positively affected numerous people's lives during his 27-year career so far. Besides the impact he has had on his students, he has also provided support and guidance to his colleagues and has helped improve their teaching. He has mentored many of the physics teachers in our district, has contributed ideas to local physics teacher groups (such as Physics Northwest), and has been an active contributor to online groups devoted to AP Physics and using the modeling method. I could not give a higher endorsement for Mr. Marino, and I cannot imagine a candidate better suited to the title of Illinois Outstanding High School Physics Teacher.

Nominated by:

Daun Biewenga, Direct Supervisor (Science Dept. Chair)
dbiewenga@maine207.org
Jan. 31, 2014

Candidate Information

Jack Marino (29 years)
Maine Township High School South
1111 S. Dee Road
Park Ridge, IL 60068
224-383-4475
jmarino@maine207.org
Feb. 26, 2014

Question 1:

I believe a teacher is first and foremost a motivator. Secondly, a teacher is a role model. And thirdly, a teacher is an orchestrator.

Providing students with a meaningful, relevant, and interesting curriculum is crucial to the learning process. Once students are engaged emotionally, they will have the attitude and energy to do remarkable things. In general, people deeply enjoy learning, improving, and being productive. It is a cycle that feeds back on itself.

Role modeling habits of mind is part of this motivation process. A teacher's curiosity, attention to detail, intellectual honesty, open mindedness, healthy skepticism, persistence, and general commitment to quality rarely go unnoticed by students. Especially at the high school level, students are naturally tuned- in to role models and others who present new perspectives on learning and decision-making.

For me, the most challenging and rewarding part of teaching is the orchestration of a unit of study. Hundreds of daily decisions need to be made regarding the proper timing and use of laboratory work, cooperative learning, differentiated instruction, questioning techniques, technology, formative assessment, problem- based learning. In addition to this, I need to decide on when to challenge, when to encourage, when to be meta-cognitive, when to take a break, and how to include student input into these decisions. At its best, teaching should be providing students with opportunities and encouragement for experiencing first- hand how enjoyable and empowering it is to question, reason out, and deeply understand something.

Question 2:

This is a tough question because so many of the colleagues with whom I work or know from workshops or Physics Northwest are very talented teachers who are deeply committed to teaching. I have had the good fortune to be inspired by truly outstanding teachers like Chris Chiaverina, Tom Senior, Martha Leitz, Earl Zwicker, Jim Hicks, Bob Grimm, Scott Welty, John Lewis, Jim Stankevitz, and Clifford Swartz to name only a few.

That said, teaching and learning physics has been my profession and my passion for the past 27 years. I genuinely enjoy the enthusiasm and candor of high school students and feel incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to work with them as they piece together their own understanding of physics. Using the modeling method of teaching physics has allowed my students the opportunity to confront their misconceptions and build reasonable scientific models through student-designed experiments and guided questioning by their peers and myself. New brain research, technology, and learning strategies such as Assessment Literacy have made this an exciting and challenging time to be teaching. If I am outstanding teacher it is not because I have been able to master all of these new strategies and methods. I am undoubtedly a novice in many of them. It would be because I continuously strive to incorporate the best of the new with the best of the old for the good of my students.

Question 3:

As a result of taking physics, my students develop skills in observation, questioning, experimental design, data collection, data analysis, mathematical modeling, proportional reasoning, quantitative estimation, problem-solving, respectfully critiquing their peers, and defending their ideas. As the year progresses, students gradually begin to expect physics to be reasonable. Without being prompted, they begin looking for connections and formulating questions. This reveals a mind shift in their relationship to physics. They now assume physics makes sense and that they can comprehend it and when something does not make sense, they have the confidence and know how to remedy this.

When a student begins to learn physics it is perspective-changing and most high school students seem to deeply appreciate a new perspective. Whether they are beginning to understand our place in the universe, the ideas of symmetry and conservation laws, how science is done, or how so many phenomena can be explained by so few concepts, it is such a pleasure to see my students become aware of these ideas for the first time.

Question 4:

In the past five years I have had the following professional development:

Assessment Literacy Workshop Modeling Physics Workshop Questioning and Discussion Strategies Workshop Numerous AP Physics workshops Numerous Monthly Physics Northwest meetings Solar Energy Workshop at Northwestern University

Question 5:

I have been a cooperating teacher for several student teachers.
I have given numerous presentations at our monthly Physics Northwest meetings.
I have given 4 training sessions for my district on creating and using videos for differentiated instruction.
I have received numerous e-mails from teachers around the world indicating that my on-line videos have helped them understand or teach a given topic. Many of these teachers have put a link to my videos on their course websites.

Question 6:

In April I will be attending a workshop on incorporating the NGSS's into our curriculum. I expect to leave with a couple of unit designs for specific standards. I have not yet begun to incorporate the newest standards into my curriculum.

Question 7:

In 2009 I made 208 YouTube videos for the AP Physics curriculum to begin flipping my classroom. To my surprise, my students' AP scores actually went down. Oddly enough, the videos seemed to significantly help students who normally struggled but hindered the more talented students who could pick things up after only one time through the material. I believe the reason they were hindered is because they were not actually viewing the videos or were "multitasking" as they were doing so. The following year I again used the videos but this time gave a daily quiz to encourage the students to focus more on these videos. This helped to bring the scores back up to where they were before 2009. I currently use the videos as one of many available resources for differentiated instruction. They have also been very useful for students who miss class or who need more review of a particular topic. I currently have over 13,000 subscribers and over 3 millions views by students and teachers from around the world.


9. Pressley "Lee" Piner, Mascoutah High School, Mascoutah 

Nomination

It is my extreme honor to nominate Lee Piner as the Illinois Outstanding High School Physics Teacher. I have known Lee as a colleague for 8 years. Lee is the type of teacher that has a lasting impact on his students long after they have left his classroom. As a Physics teacher Lee is able to translate his curriculum to his students in a way that relates the information to the real world. He is an inspiring teacher who understands that what he does each day has a lasting impact. Lee never takes a class period for granted. Lee uses research-based methods in his classroom and continually improves upon his knowledge base as his career continues.

Lee is a leader amongst his peers and has taken strides in making sure that his peers are best prepared no matter what their content area. Lee has a special interest in reading methods and has taken on the task of improving our students' ability to comprehend what they read in both his classroom and throughout their day. Lee understands that the ability to be a high-level reader has a far bigger impact than just in the Language Arts classroom. Lee is a leader in the field of physics and the field of education. It is my honor to work alongside him and have the chance to nominate him for this award!

Nominated by:

Ryan Wamser, Assistant Principal
wamserr@mascoutah19.k12.il.us
Dec. 20, 2012

Candidate Information

Pressley "Lee" Piner (30 years)
Mascoutah High School
1313 West Main Street
Mascoutah, IL 62220
618.304.0257
pinerl@mascoutah19.k12.il.us
Jan. 31, 2013

Question 1:

My philosophy of teaching can be summed up pretty succinctly -- Teach the children, not the subject. For students to have an understanding of any subject, a teacher must work to help the students to make connections between that subject and the students' lives. In some sense, physics is one of the easiest subjects to teach because connections can be pointed out and experienced throughout students' lives.

In terms of science teaching specifically, my philosophy is that we must have a mix of background knowledge and applications to have a full understanding of the world around us. In the past, this has meant that the teacher was the purveyor of this knowledge. In today's world, however, students have access to so many resources that the role of the teacher has evolved and is evolving. So, in the end, my philosophy is that teachers must be facilitators that supply the structure that students need to gain full understanding of the subject.

Question 2:

I am an outstanding physics teacher because of the philosophy stated above. I recognize my students are people and treat them that way. I work to make my classroom one that students can feel free to learn and to make mistakes. I recognize that different students will have different strengths and weaknesses. I work to give students experiences that will give them a deep understanding of physics concepts. This is best accomplished through a mix of a variety of activities including laboratory work, virtual laboratory work, discussions, reading, and writing.

Question 3:

I am proud that I have a great number of students who have pursued degrees in the sciences or engineering and now work in careers related to those areas. Two of my favorite times of the school year are just before Christmas break and just before school gets out because this is when former students return to visit me. They provide valuable input on what was useful to them and also what was not.

Another thing that I am proud of is what was dubbed "The Physics Curse" by one of my students. The Physics Curse is when you experience a phenomenon and you start thinking of the physics of the situation. An example one of my students gave was when she walked outside after a snowfall and realized how quiet it was. She then found herself explaining to herself about the sound-insulating properties of the snow cover.

Question 4:

I have taken part in workshops offered by the Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville Chemistry Department. In addition to workshops for chemistry teachers (which I have attended), they offer workshops for physics teachers, biology teachers, and middle school science teachers.

I also completed a Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction through the American College of Education. This program has been transformative for me as a teacher. I also started a degree in Educational Leadership through the same institution, which I have had to put on hold because of family circumstances.

Question 5:

In 2011, I organized a professional book study group in my building. We have studied books on Literacy (I Read It But I Don't Understand It by Cris Tovani) and on education reform (Focus: Elevating the Essentials to Radically Improve Student Learning by Mike Schmoker). We will be studying Parker Palmer's The Courage to Teach this Spring. In that role, I have organized the group, prepared for the group study, and lead the discussion. It has been very beneficial for all and I have received much praise for it.

I have also presented workshops to the entire faculty on topics as diverse as how technology is transforming our classrooms and using formative assessments. I have also lead discussions with the members of my department on issues such as the seemingly every-changing Learning Standards -- including, most recently, the Next Generation Science Standards.

I have been cooperating teacher for three student-teachers over the past several years and have also hosted several student observers. I have also been asked to present to pre-service teachers on using technology in the classroom. In addition, I have served as faculty mentor for all new science department staff since my appointment as Science Department Chairman in 1994.

Question 6:

I have been at the forefront in my school in keeping up with the Learning Standard to which we are held accountable. I was fortunate to serve on a content validity study of the old high school Illinois Standards Assessment Test (ISAT), which gave me valuable insight into that test and the Standards integrated into it. I think that experience has helped me understand the current Prairie State Achievement Exam better. I have also been involved with an ACT prep program for the past 25 years through my school.

However, I do not think that what I teach should be driven solely by what is on those tests. The Standards are an essential tool in deciding what our curriculum consists of, but I think that the professional judgment of local teachers is equally important. I welcome the push to produce Standards that are more reflective of authentic science, and I think it has the potential to drive significant reform in how we educate.

I would say that I have used the Standards as guidelines to make modifications to both my classroom teaching as well as changes to the department curriculum, starting with their initial formation in the 1980s. I implemented changes to our course sequences in the mid-1990s to reflect the goals. I helped develop a course in Earth Science, so we could insure those Standards were being taught. I have led curriculum reviews in my department to make certain that all Standards are addressed in our course offerings.

Question 7:

One particular innovation that I am proud of is what I call my "Quarter Projects." These were originally developed through my desire to address the ILS. The first project is "A Personal View on the Pace of Change of Technology." In this project, students develop interview questions regarding how technology has changed since the time their parents were in high school. They then conduct the interview and write a paper on their findings. It is an eye-opening experience for the students!

The second project is "Physics and Literature." For this project, students choose a novel, read it, and then write about the physics concepts in it. They must choose five concepts and write about how the concept is used, especially whether the concept is used correctly. This project earned praise from the local city library.

Two other projects involve designing experiments. In one, students design an experiment having to do with a topic in mechanics of their own choosing. They must design and write it in such a way that other students can actually complete it. Those students then do complete the experiment and provide their own evaluations of it. In the other experimental design project, students do individual research on environmental or other earthly phenomena, and then get into a small group and design an experiment that is somehow related. This was designed to address those Standards having to do with Environmental Science, which our students do not otherwise have any exposure to since their freshman year.


10. Elizabeth Ramseyer, Niles West High School, Skokie

Nomination

I am writing to nominate Elizabeth Ramseyer for the Illinois Outstanding High School Physics Teacher Award. It is with great pleasure I nominate Elizabeth for this award. Elizabeth is an accomplished teacher who inspires students to learn beyond the classroom. She has a unique skill set as our Astronomy teacher and works hard to educate our school and community. We take pride in our science resources, including our on site Observatory. Elizabeth has been instrumental in building our observatory and growing our Astronomy program. Please visit this website to learn more about the impact Elizabeth has had on our physics program at Niles West: https://sites.google.com/a/d219.org/nwhs-observatory.

Nominated by:

Ami LeFevre, Director of Science Niles West
amilef@d219.org
Jan. 9, 2015

Candidate Information

Elizabeth Ramseyer (23 years)
Niles West High School
5701 Oakton St
Skokie, IL 60077
8476262765
eliram@d219.org
Feb. 28, 2015

Question 1:

Every student has the ability to excel in physics provided they are ready to be engaged every time they come to class. My preference is to have my students explore every topic using a hands on laboratory environment. I prefer this experience to lecture as students are required to confront what they think they understand in a collaborative setting. Lecture does occur but only to clarify their experiences.

Question 2:

This is a very intimidating question as I am very humble. I am someone who truly wants to understand how a student learns so that they will have an enjoyable time learning about physics. I really love to have the subject come alive and be relevant to my students. I stress real world, personal reasons for learning physics. I am truly excited to inform my students about the frontier of knowledge being explored in astronomy as well! (The comet landing last November inspired me to inform the entire district and send links to witness the landing. Very historic and thrilling!)  I was also honored with the Yerkes Educator of the Year for 2013. This coincided with the acquisition of the Niles West Observatory for our high school.

Question 3:

While I have not had many students pursue a career in physics, I know that I have inspired many to continue their exploration of the Universe as an informed individual. I believe that my classes have stressed how we gained the knowledge we currently possess. I want them to be cautious about what they experience in the world of science and technology when they are no longer in school.

I do have one of my former Science Olympians and NITARP students embarking on a PhD at Stanford in Physics. Another astronomy student is researching optics for his PhD. I was also pleased to be remembered by a former physics student who I promoted to a higher class mid year and who has received a teacher of the year award in Colorado. I had to teach her at home for several months while she was a junior in high school. Her mother believes that I inspired her to work with others as I helped her. These are but a few examples.

Question 4:

I am an active member of the Illinois Science Olympiad having been a coach for 20+ years for Niles West High School. I have run 8 tournaments both regional and invitational. I have attended and been a guest presenter at the Illinois Science Olympiad Coaches Clinic (Optics and Astronomy)

NITARP was such an incredible opportunity! (nitarp.ipac.caltech.edu/team/35-LDM-Gorjian). I was able to work with a NASA JPL scientist while assisting my students to complete a relevant research project. This one experience was the highlight of my professional development as an educator.

Question 5:

I have developed and implemented two professional development sessions at Yerkes observatory. I am a member of Stars at Yerkes and ARCS. Both of these organizations promote teachers to become comfortable understanding and communicating astronomical research. (Miss Leavitt's Stars) www.starsatyerkes.net/teacher-workshops/teacher-workshops-2011-2012 (Jan 2012) (Observational Convocation)
www.starsatyerkes.net/teacher-workshops/past-workshops-2012- 2013 (Dec 1 2012)

I have also conducted a number of professional sessions at Institute Day for my colleagues at District 219 (Using Telescopes) and (Imaging in Astronomy)

Question 6:

Our district has already adopted the NGSS standards and we have begun implementation. I have taken the lead where the astronomy performance standards are concerned. I have developed lessons and activities for my colleagues (I possess a BA in Astronomy from Northwestern.)

I hope to also include the use of our telescopes and the observatory to collect data that can be analyzed in the pursuit of these new performance standards.

Question 7:

Niles West Seniors had a need for an additional physical science class. Their choices were limited to science classes that did not interest them and to classes that required skills they did not possess (calculus). So I and another colleague collaborated to create the Astronomy and Modern Physics class. This class has been in place since 1997 and it continues to inspire and inform our high school seniors who have completed physics. We cover the topics of stellar evolution, cosmology, relativity, particle physics and quantum mechanics.

A second innovation would be the addition of an observatory at Niles West. This was installed after a generous donation allowed us to purchase a permanent home for our Meade LX200 10" telescope. This telescope was earned through a grant administered by ISBE and Yerkes Observatory. My astronomy students are required to share their knowledge with the community each year. They caught the eye of our generous donor.


11. Mike Rogier, Belleville West High School, Belleville

Nomination

Mike Rogier is an icon among the faculty at Belleville West but more importantly is loved and revered by our students. His dedication to his students and his fellow teachers is exemplified daily by constantly setting high expectations for student learning. Mike then spends countless hours planning lessons that scaffold ideas together in a way that allows his students to reach those high academic standards. It is not uncommon to find Mike in his room an hour before school or an hour or two after school tutoring students who need more time to reach those standards. He is the ideal example of self sacrifice never seeking financial or personal accolades for all his hard work.

Being great for a day or a week is one thing but Mike has demonstrated these admirable characteristics for all of his 26 years of being a teacher. He is always looking for ways to improve his skills. Mike practices and is an advocate of the "Modeling Method" of teaching developed by the Arizona State University. This method of teaching makes students focus on using models to represent systems that can be studied and analyzed, so students can make conclusions and provide evidence that supports those conclusions. Mike has also been a member of the St. Louis Area Physics Teachers group which allows for professional collaboration with some of the best physics teachers in the Metro East.

As any good teacher knows it is important to be get out of your classroom and be a part of the school community. Mike has demonstrated this be being the coordinator of the Belleville West Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering (WYSE) club, the Sponsor of the Belleville West Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC) team, is the musical coordinator for the Belleville West Spring Musical and an active member of the Belleville West School Improvement Data Analysis team.

Nominated by:

Joseph Lombardi, Science Department Chair Belleville West High School
jlombardi@bths201.org
Jan. 22, 2015

Candidate Information

Mike Rogier (26 years)
Belleville West High School
117 Cedar Lane
Glen Carbon, Illinois 62034
618-288-4996
mrogier@bths201.org
Feb. 28, 2015

Question 1:

I believe teachers owe students enthusiasm and encouragement. Students come to the physics classroom with many strongly held misconceptions which cannot be broken by simply telling students the correct way to think. Students learn physics best when they are confronted with phenomena and are asked to extract the relationships that are hidden there. Students learn physics best when they use visual, graphical, and mathematical tools to justify conclusions they reach from their observations. Students learn physics best when they must use these tools to attempt to explain their predictions about how nature will work when they are faced with new phenomena. In other words, I believe students learn physics best in a student-centered classroom where they are guided to construct the models that physicists use to understand nature and then deploy those models to make real, testable predictions about how nature will behave.

Question 2:

I am an enthusiastic teacher and students recognize that I genuinely care about their well-being. I routinely have students in my classroom from early in the morning until well after school is over. As someone who earned an engineering degree from the University of Illinois, I can relate with students who are talented in math and science and help them to see that there is a world beyond high school where the problems are real and challenging and their colleagues will be just as talented as they are. I can challenge them to develop the work ethic and many communication skills that will help them as they pursue an engineering career. But I have also been successful in relating to students who are not in the honors classes and who don't bring an innate interest for physics with them to class. Some of my greatest successes have been when students from these classes go on to become physicists or engineers, or when students from these classes develop an enthusiasm for learning and attribute some of the credit for that to my inspiration. I feel like I have been successful in "doing no harm" to my students, and I know that I have made a difference in many of their lives.

Question 3:

Teaching requires enthusiasm and energy before, during, and after interacting with students. I am thankful that I am often encouraged and re- energized by visits and notes from former students who have gone on to study physics or engineering. They often tell me that I inspired them or made learning physics in college easier for them than it was for their classmates. They frequently report that they act as de facto physics teachers for their classmates. But I think I feel happiest about the effect I have had on a number of students who did not originally consider physics to be one of their interests or strengths. Two of my former students were introduced to physics in my general physics class and contacted me later to let me know that they had earned their Master's degree in physics in part because of encouragement and help that I didn't realize I had given. Another former student thanked me for my enthusiasm for teaching physics. He currently teaches physics to underprivileged students in the Chicago public schools. Another young woman struggled mightily with physics during her first year in my class. We spent many hours working outside of class, and she left high school as one of my top AP Physics students and began college as a Physics major. Students appreciate my enthusiasm and caring, and leave my class more enthusiastic and better prepared to learn about physics in their futures.

Question 4:

During the past few years I have been working to develop a Science and Engineering Club at Belleville West. Originally, members of this club prepared for and competed in the Worldwide Youth for Science and Engineering (WYSE) regional, sectional, and state competition. But during the past two years, we have broadened the scope of this club to include more hands-on engineering projects. Last year some students worked on the West Point Bridge design program while others began to build model rockets in preparation for this year's Team America Rocketry Challenge. We have been working with a mentor from the community to help students learn about designing and building rockets, and we have had fundraisers and solicited support from the community to help us purchase the design software and the components necessary to build and test our rocket. This year I have worked with the other physics teachers in our district to change our curriculum to include AP Physics 1 in addition to our AP Physics C class. Working together with this group has helped improve my own teaching, and I think I have shared ideas with them as well. I have also become re-involved with the St. Louis Area Physics Teachers, and affiliate of the AAPT. This group meets monthly on Saturdays to share physics teaching ideas and to build demonstration and lab equipment that we might not be able to afford otherwise.

Question 5:

I have not had many opportunities to work with student teachers. My only student teacher has recently returned to our district and is now very capably filling the role of Assistant Principal. But I did participate in the mentor program for teacher at our school, and also took graduate courses focused on helping me become a better mentor. I learned observation and conferencing techniques which helped me reflect on my own teaching but also helped as I mentored my new physics teaching colleague and another new science teacher. I am fortunate to have a great working relationship with the other physics teacher at our school, a relationship that has helped me grow as a teacher as much as I think it has helped and supported him. My department chair also encouraged me by letting me know that his observations and our conversations about some of my student-centered, Socratic teaching techniques have changed the way that he teaches, which in turn has changed the methodology of our entire Biology department. The curriculum has become less text-driven and more focused on units of study that provide opportunities for students to develop a deeper understanding of science rather than a broad exposure to science topics. I am gratified to find out that I contributed to this positive change at our school.

Question 6:

During the past three years, our department has been working to improve our curriculum by focusing on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). As part of this process, I attended a one day informational workshop at Illinois State University to help teachers begin this process and become familiar with the standards and possible assessment methods. The past two years our department meetings and professional development days - and quite a few hours outside of the school day - have been spent assessing how our current curriculum matches the standards and where it falls short. I am encouraged to find that the Crosscutting Concepts and Science and Engineering Practices that form the backbone of these standards often align very well with the Modeling based approach to physics teaching that we emphasize in our curriculum. The standards have revealed a few areas of emphasis that we need to enhance in our curriculum - notably, a greater emphasis on studies of electromagnetic waves as they relate to communications and information transmission technologies - but our teaching methods seem to align well with the core concepts and practices. My colleague and I are continuing to work on making our curriculum better by aligning it with these Next Generation Standards.

Question 7:

I have always believed that students learn physics best and most deeply when they are confronted with phenomena and guided to investigate these phenomena as a scientist would - making careful observations, looking for meaningful patterns, representing these patterns quantitatively through graphs, diagrams, and equations, and applying these patterns to make testable predictions about the behavior of related phenomena. I have improved dramatically in my ability to present students with these learning opportunities and to organize them in ways that maximize student motivation and learning. I was guided and inspired by my colleague at Belleville West, Gary Shepek, who always focused on the needs of learners rather than on "covering the curriculum". Many of my teaching innovations were also borrowed from Rex Rice at Clayton High School, who focused on graphical analysis methods and an experimental approach to learning about and testing students' understanding of physics. When Rex and other members of the St. Louis Area Physics Teachers began to promote the Modeling Method of teaching physics, I attended a two week workshop at Illinois State University and incorporated many of the tenants and techniques I learned there. I use paradigm "discovery" labs to begin each unit. I then help students develop their understanding through Socratic whiteboard sessions where students explain their thinking and give each other feedback. And I help students test their understanding at the end of units by requiring them to deploy their new understandings to make testable predictions for small-group or whole class lab practicums.


12. Bud Schultz, Dwight Township High School, Dwight

Nomination

I would like to nominate Mr. Bud Schultz for the High School Physics Teacher of the Year Award. Mr. Schultz has been teaching in our district for the past three years. He is a very dedicated professional educator who cares deeply about the success of every one of his students. He incorporates a variety of engaging activities into each lesson which generates student initiative and creative thought. During discussions, he utilizes a questioning strategy that guides students towards independent inquiry and critical thought. In a recent letter to him, one student wrote, "I have to say you were the one high school teacher who truly prepared me for college courses. I want to thank you for your efforts both in and out of the classroom. You weren't the type of teacher to just give us answers if we were stumped. We had to work for them so we would truly understand the concepts. I am in a Physics class this semester at Purdue University and many of the demonstrations we have done are very similar to the one's we did in high school. I can honestly say that this course is no harder than my high school Physics thanks to the way you taught us at DTHS."

As principal, I have been pleased with Mr. Schultz's initiative in providing challenging opportunities for our students outside of the school through the ITT Bridge Building Competition and Physics Day at Great America. He puts a lot of time and effort into these programs and has been recognized several times for it. American Association of Physics Teachers Representative, Ann Brandon, wrote, "Your Physics teacher, Bud Schultz, gave of his time above and beyond the call of duty at our recent Physics Day at Great America. Bud manned the computer desk, downloaded data, and made it available to students for over 4 hours that day. The Vest Operation was a great success because of his contribution of time and effort at the park."

Overall, Mr. Schultz is a very conscientious and well-prepared educator. He works professionally with colleagues and students and truly cares about everyone's success in education. Based on his qualifications and experiences, I believe that he is a deserving candidate for the 2015 High School Physics Teacher of the Year Award.

Dan Kaiser, Principal
kaiserd@dwight.k12.il.us
Jan. 7, 2015

Candidate Information

Bud Schultz (13 years)
Dwight High School
801 S. Franklin St.
Dwight, IL 60420
630-624-0512
schultzb@dwight.k12.il.us
Feb. 26, 2015

Question 1:

My philosophy is a simple one, Give your students the education you wanted as a student. Make it hands on, make them think through their own problems and give them phenomenological puzzles to solve. No one learns if class is uninteresting so make sure it is, give them just enough information to allow them to succeed and thrive. Make sure its cross curricular so that they see relevancy in every subject they study

Question 2:

I want my students to have the education that allows them to walk into new situations and have success because they have learned from hands on experience that has lead to both success and failure. I feel that they need to understand that failure teaches more than success. I give them semester projects that they choose because I want them to study something outside the typical curriculum that interests them. I have had students who have studied anything from weather, they built a working snow machine, to building an arc welder from old microwave ovens. In both of these instances the students have gone on to pursue a degree in science.

Question 3:

I like to keep in touch with my students after graduation. I find my students have a much easier time transitioning to college and a very high success rate in science related majors. Many have earned engineering or straight science degrees and some have gone on to post graduate work. A few have pursued work in very specialized fields such as meteorology and robotics. A couple now work at John Deere as mechanical engineers and have done everything from leading managing failure analysis teams, engineering sales and field implementation of new products. I have also helped my students get involved with the local sail plane club and earn their pilots license.

Question 4:

I have taken classes in modeling at Fermi Lab and Argonne National Labs through Aurora University. I also have attended many lectures at Fermi and other venues to stay current in a myriad of science related areas. I also meet with some thirty or so friends on Wednesday evenings who work at Fermi and like to share phenomenological materials.

Question 5:

I have taught mini classes during professional development days at our school to help get other teachers in the building to think outside the box. I did this using demonstrations, experimentation both physical and thought experiments. I have also helped the CTE department write curriculum that incorporates more math and science into it. This curriculum is now the model that they use for other districts state wide. I was also asked to speak to the physics students who were getting degrees in education at Illinois State University with three other veteran teachers.

Question 6:

I once went into a classroom where the teacher had the students reading the standards and then deciding upon what to do. I cringed when I realized what they were doing as it was the most boring lifeless lesson I had ever encountered. It was a book keeping class, not a physics class. I have and still use many methods that are in the standards but I feel those are mine to interpret and not the students. I find the next generation standards to be relatively natural since they encourage the students to think through problems and design their own experiments and then test, analyze and report them to peers and myself. I have used them to mix all the sciences since that is life, but it was something I did before the standards came to being. One cannot teach a particular science in a vacuum, they are all inextricably intertwined.

Question 7:

I give my students real world problems. I once went to a class through IIT that was presented by Mr. Bill Blunk. He gave us a pair of conductive ping pong balls and showed that they could have a charge applied to them and demonstrated such. It was enjoyable. I took this a step further and placed the setup in my lab. I then charged them, and let the students enter as a group. I then charged them (pun intended) with the task of determining the charge on them. It's an easy task or so they thought. Once they went to measure the distance between them they realized that any measuring equipment brought near them results in a significant loss of charge. I then told them that they had two more chances to have the system charged up before they failed as a group. They have to come up with an innovative way of measuring the charge without impacting the charge. I also do something similar with a water jug. Tim Kulak, an old colleague of mine, used to send a water jug filled with methanol across his room suspended from a wire. I have one suspended similarly, but added low friction pulleys. My students are tasked with maximizing the acceleration of the jug and then determine what that acceleration is along with various other parameters including how many calories were burned. I allow them free range of the lab but they may not permanently mark any equipment nor do destructive testing.


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

Nomination

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 (8 years)
Cary-Grove High School
53 Pine Ct
Crystal Lake, IL 60014
(309) 824-8853
rvieyra@d155.org
Feb. 25, 2014

Question 1:

My goal is to improve science literacy through physics understanding - the medium for this to occur is through inquiry and explicit teaching about the nature of science. My classroom is based upon the principles of cooperative learning (interdependence, individual accountability, and social/scientific skills), hands-on and minds-on activities, inquiry with contextual, real-life learning, and metacognitive practices to elicit, confront, and resolve misconceptions. I incorporate technology and engineering practices, and use creative assessments. For example, in a study of projectiles, students interact with projectiles (water balloons, sports, etc.) and are asked to determine the relationships between angle, height, range, and time of flight using inquiry practices and prior kinematics knowledge. Misconceptions are elicited and resolved using clickers on diagnostic questions, discussions using TIPERs (Heiggelke, et al.) and Quantoons (Tomas Bunk), whiteboarding/Modeling practices, and interactive demonstrations (Sokoloff). I use non-traditional assessments for a unit such as this, including video analysis of a home-made projectile video, and a cooperative activity in which small groups are given the task of placing fire-lit hoops at different ranges, with the goal to determine appropriate heights and angles given the initial conditions of a projectile. Whenever possible, I encourage students to write and solve their own contextual problems, and read about historical and nature of science case studies and concepts relevant to students' lives - I have received generous grants to provide my classroom with sets of Physics of Football (Timothy Gay), Story of Science (Joy Hakim), and Evolution of Physics (Albert Einstein).

Question 2:

I have been recognized for my accomplishments as an NSTA New Teacher Fellow (2010), ISTA New Science Teacher of the Year (2011), National Board Certified Teacher (2011), Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching state finalist (2013, with national selection TBD), and as an Albert Einstein Distinguished Fellow semi-finalist (interviewed with NSF and NASA, February 2014, with final selection TBD). Both National Board Certification and PAEMST result, in-part, from my scores of video-taped lessons, and are a testament to my ability to guide student inquiry through labs and interactive discussions. In line with my teaching philosophy, I engage students through all levels of inquiry in most units (discovery learning, interactive demonstrations, inquiry lessons, inquiry labs, real-world application, and hypothetical inquiry). Almost all information is derived from student experiences and discussions, and condensed into a concept map "toolbox." Whenever possible, I teach within a context that is either directly relevant to their lives or interests (i.e. cell phone science unit), set within a historical framework (Ben Franklin's electrostatics experiments), and that encourages explicit learning about the nature of science and science inquiry. I include the use of technology, including educational gaming (Impulse, Quantum Spectre), web and mobile device simulations (PhETs, Phydics), online content resources (PhysicsClassroom, TED talks), and other learning tools. My administration has also recognized me for my use of metacognitive practices with my students, including the use of pre- and post-tests, student reflection on learning targets, and the use of whiteboarding and clickers as formative assessments.

Question 3:

The impact of my teaching is demonstrated through growth on the science portion from the PLAN to the ACT. My students increased from an average of 22.7 to 25.7 points (after 8 months of my instruction). The College Board states that students typically demonstrate a growth of 1-4 points between these two exams -- an average growth of 3 points overall is commendable. From 2008-2010, I used the Test of Understanding Graphs in Kinematics. Research by Beichner of North Carolina State University shows students correctly answer 7.4/20 questions after didactic physics instruction. Over three years, my students demonstrated Hake gain growth from 3.5-7.5 (24% gain), 4.9-10.3 (35% gain), to 5.2-11.6 (43% gain) - values higher than those of students in didactic courses, and increasing each year. More recently, I have used diagnostic tests to create pre-tests unit by unit, and collect post-test data immediately before unit exams using clickers. It is not uncommon for my students to demonstrate growth averaging 40%-100%. Students have directly benefited from my grant-writing ($25,000+), and my students now have take-home, one-to-one Nexus tablets to provide all with internet accessibility and specialized learning and data collection apps. As a summer school teacher at the Lab School of Science and Technology (summer 2010 and 2013) and curriculum writer for Woodstock Challenger Learning Center, I have also provided accelerated learning for gifted students and contributed to informal science education. From 2008-2011, I also coached Science Olympiad.

Question 4:

My greatest professional development has been the process of co-writing a 40- chapter book, Teaching High School Physics. Collaborating, writing, researching, reflecting on my own teaching, editing, and beginning the professional review and publication process has been eye-opening. We called for reviewers at the fall ISAAPT meeting in fall 2013, and currently have 51 reviewers. From 2009- 2010, I completed my Master's in Science Education from the Illinois Institute of Technology, with special emphasis on leadership and the nature of science. That year, I was an NSTA New Teacher Fellow and took part in a year-long mentorship and training institute before attending the National NSTA Convention. In 2011, I earned my National Board Certification in AYA/Science-Physics. I am work with Pearson as an item writer and expert reviewer for content exams for board certification in physics. That year, I traveled to Omaha for training through AAPT's Physics Teacher Resource Agent program. I have also attended a variety of specialty workshops, including the Sloan Digital Sky Survey at FermiLab (3 days) (2009), Material Science (5 days) (2013), and multiple in- house district courses (Love and Logic, Cooperative Learning, Teaching ELLs, Aligning Learning Targets, Social and Emotional Learning - for an equivalent of 9 hours of graduate credit). From 2010-2013, I served as ISAAPT's High School Physics Teacher Representative, and have created and managed the group's Google+ page, Facebook group, and Twitter feed. Since 2009, I have given nine presentations/workshops, and attended eight conferences through AAPT/AAAS, ISAAPT/CSAAPT, NSTA, and ISTA.

Question 5:

In 2009, I co-taught ISU.s Physics 489.01 - Physical Science for Middle School Teachers to a cohort of District 150 teachers over four weeks. These teachers had significant need for physical science content comprehension and content- specific teaching pedagogy, and both their end-of-course exams and feedback a year later demonstrated their growth and maintained use of the course material. From 2006-2007, I worked as an NSF Teaching Fellow with 12 teachers to develop and teach STEM curriculum. I have written curriculum for both the Woodstock Challenger Learning Center and the Lab School of Science and Technology. I have given over 20 presentations and workshops, including an invited co-presentation, "Inquiry in Physics" at a conference in Puebla, Mexico (2005), "Electrostatics with Ben Franklin" workshop (ISAAPT, 2009), "Science of Cell Phones" workshop (CSAAPT, 2009, and "Whiteboarding with Socratic Dialogue" (Tazewell County In- Service, 2007). I was invited and will present on "Teaching Physics and Space Science through Inquiry" at Bandung University and SEAMEO (Asian science education conference) in Indonesia this June. I have also served as an AAPT e-mentor to two novice teachers since last summer, and volunteered as an informal mentor and reader for two National Board Certification applicants. I helped a doctoral student from the Illinois Institute of Technology collect data on nature of science and inquiry instruction in my classroom, and have collaborated with Edge, an NSF-sponsored non-profit to collect data on the educational value of science-based gaming for my students.

Question 6:

This past summer I attended a workshop on the Common Core Standards and discussed how to incorporate the standards for reading and writing in science into my own curriculum. The result has been that I have included more literary and academic readings in my course (at least one per unit), with assessment exercises that require students to summarize, infer, and connect. I have used Google Docs and other apps to require more writing, peer editing, and digital annotation of readings. I also collaborated over the last year with a Literacy Specialist to improve reading activities once per unit in my Physical Science course. As part of a district course, I also developed activities to enhance reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills for my English Language Learners. Also this past summer, I served on the district Next Generation Science Standard committee. I developed the document, with my peers, to align all levels of our current and potential physics courses (Regular, Honors, AP1, AP2, and APC) to the NGSS standards. We forwarded our findings to the district, who made decisions regarding the replacement of Honors Physics with AP1. Although we did not find our content to be lacking, we did find a need to include more of the engineering process and projects. As a result, we developed an engineering project for minimizing the impact of a falling cell-phone, and I have supplemented my curriculum with a research project associated with cell phone signal transmission.

Question 7:

Last year I wrote and received a $25,000 grant to pilot a one-to-one Nexus 7 program with the Google Apps for Education beta. As the first and only high school teacher to beta-test the take-home program, I have incorporated tablet-based technology into my classroom while contributing to the beta development. I have had students use tablet-specific apps/simulations and data collection sensors (i.e. for collecting data on roller coasters, in elevators, etc.), while encouraging skills for digital reading and annotation using iAnnotate, writing and note-taking using voice-to-text features, collaboration through discussions and peer review on Google Docs, and diagnostic and formative assessments through "clicker" apps such as Socrative. Working with my husband, a software engineer, we have both created a line of free Android apps for physics teachers and students that use mobile device sensors to collect data. Of the "Physics Toolbox" suite (goo.gl/MRdRvd), we have over 35,000 users using 11 apps (Accelerometer, Magnetometer, Barometer, Gyroscope, Thermometer, Proximity Sensor, Light Sensor, Sound Meter, Tone Generator, Hygrometer, and Roller Coaster (accelerometer + barometer + gyroscope)). These apps have been used by both teachers and researchers, and have been used in papers published by ourselves ("Analyzing Forces on Amusement Park Rides" (2014). The Physics Teacher, Vol. 52, pp. 567- 569) and others (Strawson, R., (2013) "Map and apps widen the scope of school physics," Physics Education, pp. 409-410, and Sans, J. A. et al, (2013), "Oscillations studied with the smartphone ambient light sensor," European Journal of Physics, 34.)