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Teaching high school AP physics

  • Thread starter nmsurobert
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Hello everyone,

A postion for an AP (advanced placement) physics teacher opened up at the high school I work at and I jumped all over it. More specifically, I will be teaching AP Physics 2. I believe I will be one of two teachers in our district teaching the course. I haven't had much communication with the other AP physics teacher at my school, and I was looking for some advice or guidance. I think its worth mentioning that I am starting my third year as a high school teacher and I have my B.S in physics. I'm sure a little rusty but I don't feel completely unprepared.

Right now, I'm thinking of setting up the class like this...
We have block scheduling. I will see my students every other day for an hour and half each meeting. I'm thinking of using a full day to take notes and do example problems as a class then giving them a full day to work on what would be homework. Instead of assigning homework, give them the opportunity to work together on assignments in class. I know that AP type students already have endless home for every other class they're taking.

I do this in my astronomy class, which is my main class, and its worked out really well. I feel it encourages some team work, group study habits, and it makes me more available to answer questions while they work on the assignment.

I know that my astro class and the AP class are very different. There is a lot more material I have to cover in the AP versus the astro class. Also, the AP students are more about the academic grind than the general student population.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I am hoping to use this thread as a resources this whole coming year. The teacher that I was most comfortable going to for teacher help retired, so i've lost a huge resource.
 

scottdave

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So are they going to be in teams, or just be able to talk with each other to work the problems?
I like having some team assignments as well as some individual. A certain amount of work outside of class would probably be necessary.

Here are some other thoughts: At my daughter's school, they use a system called Remind ( https://www.remind.com ) to push information to the students and parents. Some of the clubs use it as well to keep everybody informed. Also, many of her assignments are turned in via Google classroom.

In an online Masters program that I'm taking, most of the courses use Piazza and/or Slack discussion groups.
Maybe you already use some of these, but I thought I'd throw these ideas out.
 
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So are they going to be in teams, or just be able to talk with each other to work the problems?
I like having some team assignments as well as some individual. A certain amount of work outside of class would probably be necessary.

Here are some other thoughts: At my daughter's school, they use a system called Remind ( https://www.remind.com ) to push information to the students and parents. Some of the clubs use it as well to keep everybody informed. Also, many of her assignments are turned in via Google classroom.

In an online Masters program that I'm taking, most of the courses use Piazza and/or Slack discussion groups.
Maybe you already use some of these, but I thought I'd throw these ideas out.
They'll be in groups, but they will still be allowed to talk to everyone. I encourage reaching out to peers long before you come and ask me for help. I was thinking of doing weekly quizzes to make sure that everyone is on the same page. I love group work (as does the district) but there is a lot of room for people to do nothing and do be completing assignments.

I've heard of remind. A friend of mine uses it as a warning system. "Quiz tomorrow, something due tomorrow" type stuff. I haven't got around to using an online system to receive work. I use Schoolboy but I use as a storage place for assignments. I have my kids take notes and turn in assignments through a notebook.

Schoology also has group dicussion stuff but we see each other so often i've never used that function.
 

Dr Transport

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Given the schedule you have described, I'd lecture/work problems for an hour per class then let the students have the balance of the time to work on their assignmens in class. Don't forget lab periods, they most likely will be required and will take up a period every week or so. If you give high school student an hour and a half somewhat unsupervised, it'll just become a bull session and they'll accomplish nothing. Quizes are good, but anohter thought is to have them hand in 1-2 problems before they leave, that way they have to work on the assignment or have had to finish it ahead of time to get credit. (they don't have to be huge problems, make them do the real significant ones for homework outside of class.)
 
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Given the schedule you have described, I'd lecture/work problems for an hour per class then let the students have the balance of the time to work on their assignmens in class. Don't forget lab periods, they most likely will be required and will take up a period every week or so. If you give high school student an hour and a half somewhat unsupervised, it'll just become a bull session and they'll accomplish nothing. Quizes are good, but anohter thought is to have them hand in 1-2 problems before they leave, that way they have to work on the assignment or have had to finish it ahead of time to get credit. (they don't have to be huge problems, make them do the real significant ones for homework outside of class.)
i like that idea too. I do something similar in my astro class but its usually about 30 minutes of lecture than the last hour to work on whatever i've assigned.

dont remind me about labs... despite being the biggest district in the city and one of the "better" schools in the city, lab equipment is a pain to get a hold of. however, i know they have to be done. i think the class is supposed to be 25% lab work. i need to look at the policy again.

one thing that our school (maybe the district) is pushing are called "exit tickets". its a problem or two the last five minutes of class that is supposed to be turned in. i haven't done them. I've felt like its busy work. maybe i need to find a way to make it meaningful.
 
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We dove into curriculum today. I gotta say... I was a little intimidated by how bright every single one of those kids were after our day-one discussions. After giving them some work today and watching them struggle a little a bit, I remembered that I'm the one with the physics degree and not them haha.

A good start to the year. However, the AP environment in way different than the "general population".
 

berkeman

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dont remind me about labs... despite being the biggest district in the city and one of the "better" schools in the city, lab equipment is a pain to get a hold of.
I remember one of the first "experiments" that we did in high school. The instructor had a number of candles set out on the lab benches, and had us light them at the same time. He then asked us to write down all of the observations we could think of about the candle and the flame.

After the candles burned down and we extinguished them, he led a discussion about our observations. It was a very instructive lab for us, and showed us how important it was to make good observations, take good notes, and think about what we had seen and explore the science behind our observations.

Total material cost, about five dollars. Worth to the students, priceless! Thanks Mr. Gerhard! (he also turned out to be my HS wrestling coach later) :smile:
 
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I remember one of the first "experiments" that we did in high school. The instructor had a number of candles set out on the lab benches, and had us light them at the same time. He then asked us to write down all of the observations we could think of about the candle and the flame.

After the candles burned down and we extinguished them, he led a discussion about our observations. It was a very instructive lab for us, and showed us how important it was to make good observations, take good notes, and think about what we had seen and explore the science behind our observations.

Total material cost, about five dollars. Worth to the students, priceless! Thanks Mr. Gerhard! (he also turned out to be my HS wrestling coach later) :smile:
Interesting. there is a lot of physics going on with something as simple as a burning candle. I do something similar with my slide shows in my physics and astro classes. The first slide is always a picture relating to the topic. For example, we start with fluid statics. The first slide was a picture of someone swimming. As a class we discuss all the physics going on the photo. I try to steer the conversation in the direction of fluids.
 

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