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Help -- Summer school physics class

  1. Jun 17, 2017 #1
    I'm a substitute teacher with one year of classroom experience under my belt. I have just been hired to teach a summer school physics class. The class is 4 weeks long.

    The regular physics teacher taught this course a few years ago and has some powerpoints, lessons, documents, etc. but they are kinda messy.

    The class starts in a few days and I am struggling to create a lesson plan that I think will be of best use for the students.

    My dream is that someone, or a website, has a summer school curriculum condensed into 4 weeks that I can use or use as a template. Does such a thing exist?

    Any help is greatly appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 18, 2017 #2
    Hard to help without more details: high school or college?, honors or AP?, Calculus based or Algebra based? Book? Mechanics? E&M?

    A good semester long physics course is extremely hard to cram into 4 weeks. It will go better if your students are strong students, good at math and taking it to get ahead rather than weak students who don't like math or homework.

    A college physics course (3 credit hours) with the appropriate rigor will meet 45 times for 50 minutes and include 2-3 hours of outside of class work for each class hour. If there is a lab, that adds 15 meetings of 2-3 hours. So the lecture alone requires 135-180 hours of student effort, and the lecture plus lab requires 165-210 hours of student effort. Unless your students are willing to put in over 40 hours of physics effort each week, it is almost impossible to deliver a college physics class of the appropriate rigor in 4 weeks.
  4. Jun 18, 2017 #3


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    This is almost impossible to answer because it depends on the level and goal of the course. So it is highly school-dependent.

    Are you not able to either contact the regular physics teacher, or someone in the same division/department to ask for the course syllabus? Nowadays, at almost every school, the syllabus is made very clear to the students, so you should at least know what topics you should cover and at what level. This is the starting point. Then you should try and get not only the lecture notes (messy as they are) but also sample HW and exam questions so that you know what level you should present the material.

    The key thing here is that there has to be some sort of a faculty support. No one should be expected to come in cold and be able to teach a course, regardless of whether you know the material or not. The dept. should have provided you a contact person that you can direct these questions to.

  5. Jun 18, 2017 #4
    Dr. Courtney and ZapperZ,

    Thank you for your replies! I should have stated that it is a high school physics course. It is for 4 weeks, and only has two hour classes. I'll be teaching two a day. It is algebra-based, I don't believe there is a book, and I will likely not even have access to computers because I am a substitute.

    The school is in a low-income area and there will be students from a range of grades, 9-11. I have subbed at the school before and at neighboring schools and there have often been behavioral/motivational issues in the past. So one of my main concerns is keeping the students engaged. There will be about 20 kids per class.

    I was going off the syllabus used for the summer class two years ago. I found out today that thermodynamics should not be a point of emphasis.

    Luckily there will be a physics teacher on-site, and he has been very helpful. Though, like i wrote before, the curriculum from two years ago is somewhat messy.

    Broadly, I'm planning on covering:
    • Motion, velocity acceleration
    • Electricity Magnetisim
    • Waves
    • Newton's Laws and Energy
  6. Jun 20, 2017 #5


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    After just reading your post #4,... Discouraging. Very, very discouraging.
  7. Jun 20, 2017 #6
    Any advice, ideas (labs especially), or therapists you can recommend for me would be appreciated.
  8. Jun 20, 2017 #7
    I expect they may be asking you to make bricks without straw.
  9. Jun 25, 2017 #8
    Wow, it seems the replies imply that you are not given enough support from the school for this class. Out of curiosity, does this happen a lot in your school district & in the U.S.A in general? If what I said about support is true & curriculum is undoable, maybe ignore the entire curriculum & focus on doing informative fun physics labs to get these kids interested in science. Like these: https://www.pinterest.com/explore/physics-experiments/

    Of course, if you'll get fired, you can't. But maybe just do one of these experiments once a week or every two weeks?
  10. Jun 26, 2017 #9
    Why are the students taking this course? A bit of background on why the course exists would help me understand why the course is 4 weeks and what the school is trying to accomplish by offering the course.

    I think your outline is way too ambitious.
  11. Jun 26, 2017 #10


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    Also refer to post # 9 from Mister T.

    You are a substitute teacher and there'll be a Physics teacher on-site. So why does the school want YOU to teach the class?

    Physics at a high school - this can NOT be for students who have motivational or behavioral problems. If they do have those, then they are in the wrong class. College Preparatory is any "Physics" class in a high school.
  12. Sep 16, 2017 #11
    we can design it base on course outline. In the past, my professor also taught and designed lesson based on course outline. the course outline show me what I have to do in the course.
  13. Sep 16, 2017 #12

    Vanadium 50

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    I'm afraid summer is over.
  14. Sep 16, 2017 #13


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    Nickardo, we may be curious how the course went, if you feel secure enough to comment; otherwise not, would be understandable.
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