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Job Skills Interview Prep

  1. Jan 23, 2009 #1
    Hi every one,

    For an private school teaching job interview, I need to prepare and deliver a 15 minute lesson on "weight on inclined plane". The level of this lesson, I believe, is AP Physics.

    I am thinking of preparing the notes and deliver in the traditional method. Any ideas and suggestions will be highly appreciated. Do you thing that I should call them and ask what kinds of equipments are available for teaching (white board or over head projector). What is the best way to deliver a class room lesson? Do you think some kind of demonstration/visual aid might help? I am thinking of showing the different forces acting on a body on an inclined plane by some means. My 'students' will be my interviewers. How can I show them that I want to involve students in the class room teaching. If they are real students, I might ask them some pre assessment questions. I might also ask them questions during the lesson. But can I do this with the interviewers as students. It is kind of awkward. Any and every idea will be appreciated! Please share your experience as well. Thanks.


  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 23, 2009 #2
    You may want to look at the PHeT simulation:
    The Ramp
    Note: There are ideas for lessons/activities and a set of associated "Concept questions" in the teacher submissions.

    Personally, I find the topic they're choosing for you distasteful (in my experience students really don't like inclined planes much), but that's life. I did, at one point, see a nice lesson on inclined planes with the University of Maryland Open Source tutorial Physics curriculum... you might want to try to look that up.

    Why do I suggest the above sources, or some use thereof? Showing you have knowledge of the latest in physics education research wouldn't be a bad thing. It does depend a bit on the school philosophy though... in addition to the fact that they might want to see you actually "perform". In that case, it'd be nice to have a short intro, a short student activity, and then a short lecture... this would balance all the tasks teachers should do.

    You should ask what equipment will be available (assume there will be a white board or chalkboard... but you might want to ask about a smart board or computer projection capability, and "lab" materials, possibility including number of available computers... since you can't bring these things yourself). If you'd like to do an activity with the class, you could possibly even inquire as to whether the current teacher has the students organized into groups, and if so, what the group structure is (i.e. how many students per group). On the other hand, you could just decide on a group structure yourself and have students self-organize.
  4. Jan 23, 2009 #3

    Andy Resnick

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    It's clear to me all they want to know is how effectively can you teach. So yes, treat the "students" as if they are in fact, students. If you teach interactively, then do that. If you prefer to lecture, then do that.

    Certainly asking what materials are available is acceptable!

    I would not use a canned demo/lecture- that might be percieved as poor teaching methodology. Remember, you are interviewing for a *teaching* job- show then how well you can teach!
  5. Jan 23, 2009 #4


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    I think there are several things that you can use the basic subject matter to expand out and address, all interesting things and very visual. I still remember the first times I dealt with theses things, and how I went, "Hey, look at that! Pretty cool."

    ** Use a board and a weight to show how you can easily find the coefficient of 1) static and 2) dynamic friction. Do you know how to do that? Very effective demo. Follow that up with both a quick PPT slide or two, and drawing on the white board. Think of some questions to ask your audience to see if they're paying attention. You could even use the dynamic coefficient point as one of the questions (don't show it to them at first, make them figure out how to do it, and maybe even call a couple up to do it for you).

    ** Use an inclined plane and rolling cylinders of various constructions (maybe balls too?) to talk about moments of inertia, and how there is an extra energy term when the weight can ROLL down the ramp. Follow with a PPT slide and draw on the white board some. Call up a couple students to time a couple rolls down the ramp, and have them calculate the moments of inertia for the objects directly on the white board. Maybe ask a follow-on discussion question about combined slipping and rolling down the plane....

    ** Put various geometry objects on the board (like square, pentagon, octagon, etc.), and use tilts to see where they finally start to clunk down the incline. Use this, a PPT slide and the white board to talk about center of mass and Free Body Diagrams. Ask a student to calculate the board angle for some new shape, or make it a competition to see which student can get the right answer first....

    Should be a fun 15 minutes! Enjoy.
  6. Jan 23, 2009 #5


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    Staff: Mentor

    BTW, you might want to list some assumptions for your interviewers first before the presentation. Like, I'm assuming we've already talked about.... (friction, PE, KE, others?).
  7. Jan 23, 2009 #6


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    You might wish to briefly address WHY one might care about a "weight on inclined plane".

    It's a good idea to know as much about your audience as possible.
    What is their background in math, physics, science, computers, etc...?
    What textbook are they using?
    (Is there a desire for the school to use more technology in the classroom? or more active-learning in the classroom?)

    Spring scales might help demonstrate the strength of some of the forces.

    Treat it like a real class. (Don't step out of character to explain what and why you are doing things a certain way.) Plan to get a set of [simple!] key points across in the 15 minutes... so that you finish gracefully [as opposed to being told that your time is up]. Plan for a 10 minute talk... because things usually take longer than you plan.

    Be prepared to address questions that might come up. Rehearse.


    (Good luck.)
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2009
  8. Jan 23, 2009 #7
    Thank you for these excellent suggestions! Thank you for your encouraging words as well.


  9. Jan 24, 2009 #8


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