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Help preparing to teach HS physics

  1. Sep 11, 2013 #1
    Hi all,
    Next fall (a year from now), I will (hopefully) be teaching high school physics. I've thought for a few years now while an undergrad majoring in physics that I would like to be a teacher, and if things happen like I hope they will, I will be getting my first experience as a teacher in a year.

    The first thing I am wondering is if anyone on here knows a quality high school-level textbook with a solutions manual that I can go through entirely over the course of this year to (a) refresh myself on high school-level material and (b) get an idea of what kinds of problems to put on homework and tests?

    I also am thinking of buying a (used) textbook or two for AP Physics to go through all of that as well. Anyone have recommendations for those?

    Finally, can any of the experienced high school teachers on here give me an idea of what to expect and how to prepare? I'd really like to incorporate a good deal of demonstrations and hands-on activities because those, for me at least, were what really got me interested in physics in the first place, but it would be helpful to know if that idea is a bad one...

    Basically, any and all help that you all can give would be greatly appreciated!
    (My apologies if I've been a noob and posted this in the wrong place...)
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 11, 2013 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    One book I saw that may be helpful as a reference on how to structure your course for any given topic:


    Another site has a collection of Physics demos that use Java and the Open Source Physics library to construct interactive simulations: on a variety of topics


    And then there's Khan's Academy where you could assign watching specific videos as homework and then do your problem sets in class where students can ask questions. Some California schools are using this strategy in their classes. Students like it because the stress of watching the video is a lot less than doing the problems without a teachers guiding hand.

    Last edited: Sep 11, 2013
  4. Sep 19, 2013 #3
    I am taking physics my junior year of high school currently and will link you to my current teachers page, whom I might add does an astounding job of teaching, most notably to the students who have no philosophical understanding of physics. Which in most cases is your target audience. On his page he has a few samples of weekly lesson plans. I can also provide you with information on our current text which covers significant digits to nuclear physics. At your request of course.
  5. Sep 19, 2013 #4
    @Jedishrfu - Thank you for your help. I don't know if I really am interested in the book since it is for IB, and that's not really what I'm looking into. The other two sites do look helpful, though, so thank you.

    @Dohbis - I would greatly appreciate both. I am more interested in the textbook, as I don't want to simply take what someone else has put work into. If it is really well done, I may ask his permission, but at this point, just having a book I know is in use and considered well-written to work with would be great.

    Also, sorry to say Dohbis: Go Irish! Sparty's going down :) (and I'll be there to watch my school do it)
  6. Sep 21, 2013 #5


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    Staff Emeritus
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    PF is a good resource.

    Also - Hyperphysics is a good resource for introductory material.

    This might be a good textbook for a teacher - http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0471739103,descCd-tableOfContents.html
  7. Sep 22, 2013 #6
    To be a high school teacher, you need to work on acquiring more physics knowledge than 'the high school level'. I would recommend an Introductory College physics book. If you are from USA, you will also take the Praxis exam.
  8. Sep 22, 2013 #7
    Sorry Gamma, maybe I should've been clearer about my studies - when I said I've been majoring in Physics, that statement means I'm receiving a B.S. in Physics (4-year University program studying physics), so I'd like to think my knowledge goes beyond "the high school level". I just want to refresh myself (after taking classes like Quantum Mechanics) on topics and the level of material covered in high schools. Therefore, studying a college physics book doesn't do me much good - I'm trying to prepare for teaching students their first year of high school physics as well as potentially teaching AP physics.
  9. Sep 22, 2013 #8
    sorry for mis-understanding!

    I am a certified physics teacher now working as an assistant professor. So I have seen both sides. Have you come across Conceptual Physics by Hewitt? This is a good book which explains physics concepts without too much math. In fact, it is good for intro undergrads as well because they are very unprepared these days.
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