1. Mohan Aggarwal
  2. http://www.aamu.edu/physics
  3. Professor and Chair of the Department of Physics
  4. Alliance for Physics Excellence
  5. http://alapex.org
  6. Alabama A&M
  1. Dianne Kirnes
  2. Program Manager
  3. Alliance for Physics Excellence
  4. http://alapex.org
  5. Alabama A&M
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Mohan Aggarwal

    Mohan Aggarwal

    Lead Presenter
    May 12, 2019 | 07:14 p.m.

    Welcome and thank you for viewing our video. The vision of Alliance for Physics excellence is to transform secondary physics education in Alabama by enabling physics teachers to acquire a deeper knowledge of physics content and effective pedagogical strategies based on physics education research. For more information, please visit our website http://alapex.org particularly the Wiki. Also there are three prior videos we presented in the Video showcase.http://resourcecenters2015.videohall.com/presentations/546; in 2015 http://videohall.com/p/780; in 2016 and http://videohall.com/p/953 in 2017.

  • Icon for: Mary Murphy

    Mary Murphy

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2019 | 10:34 a.m.

    Thank you for sharing your work. I am sure there are many other states that are struggling to find qualified physics teachers so the ability to scale this program is of particular interest.  I have a couple of questions:   Did this project  support teachers across the diversity of your state?  In other words, what was the socio-economic make-up of the schools that the teachers came from?  Did teachers get materials to support learning back at their schools?  and was there any cross-over with teacher prep programs that might influence the pipeline issues for new physics teachers entering the classroom? I am thinking about scaling this to other states and wondering how it could be done when school funding is always significant constraints.   Great work!

  • Icon for: David Campbell

    David Campbell

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2019 | 01:39 p.m.

    Related to Mary's question, will you be able to sustain the program at Alabama A & M after NSF funding ends?  

  • Icon for: Dianne Kirnes

    Dianne Kirnes

    Co-Presenter
    May 13, 2019 | 02:24 p.m.

    I am the Program Manager for APEX.  To answer your previous questions:

    What was the socio-economic make-up of the schools that the teachers came from?

    One of the objectives of the APEX project was to target underrepresented minorities in the field of physics. We had a very diverse group of teachers to include those from schools with majority low income students, Title VI schools, as well as teachers that taught advance and dual enrollment physics classes.  The techniques and strategies were very basic to student learning therefore, all teachers used the same techniques and strategies.

     Did teachers get materials to support learning back at their schools?

    Teachers received the materials from each workshop that they could keep and use.  They also received support and materials from our certified instructors, from the ASIM Specialists and from our pedagogical expert (Dr. Jim Minstrell of Facet Innovations, Inc.).  Facet Innovations, Inc. also created an online assessment tool called Diagnoser and an app to assist classroom teachers prior to, during and after instruction and help them develop their own materials.  Facet Innovations gave our APEX participants free access and provided online assistance as experts in teaching and learning.

     Was there any cross-over with teacher prep programs that might influence the pipeline issues for new physics teachers entering the classroom?

    Another component of APEX was pre-service students, which was an integral part of the program.  These college students were preparing to become high school teachers and enter the pipeline. They were comprised of undergraduate, graduate and Ph.D. students. They sat in on APEX professional development training sessions with APEX participants, observed classrooms being taught by APEX participants and non-participants to compare, as well as collected and analyzed classroom data.  They had the opportunity to ask questions and apply what they were learning while being taught in their course of study.

     How APEX could be replicated when school funding is constrained?

    ASIM Specialists, a critical part of the sustainability of APEX, are available in only Alabama; however, I believe the program can be replicated in other states with a little out of the box thinking.  For example schools can solicit the assistance of for profit and not profit agencies by training them in APEX strategies, initially designating a cohort of teachers to train other teachers regarding the APEX strategies and techniques (train the trainer strategy) or reallocate funding to create an ASIM program similar to Alabama within the state.

     

  • Icon for: Dianne Kirnes

    Dianne Kirnes

    Co-Presenter
    May 13, 2019 | 03:45 p.m.

    As the next phase of APEX approaches, sustainability has become increasingly more important APEX program staff, along with its stakeholders, partners and program participants and program staff, have collectively reviewed the APEX evaluations and data collected periodically over the past five years to provide input towards sustainability and continued transformation of physics education in Alabama. Some of the key activities included: 1. Monitoring community and state buy-in through participant and stakeholder feedback. Discussions have included the sustainability of key program components, dissemination of APEX teaching strategies to reach as many physics teachers and students throughout the state of Alabama and replication of APEX in other states; 2. Advancing public relations to highlight the need for physics education and its published successes. APEX’s partners were chosen strategically to make sure each tier of the education system was involved in the professional development opportunities offered by APEX to teachers in support of students. APEX has continually conducted assessments, collected data, implemented surveys and conducted interviews of high school physics teachers that participated in the APEX project.

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    Jennifer Talbot

    K-12 Teacher
    May 14, 2019 | 08:10 a.m.

    As a member of APEX Cohort 2 I can attest to the value of this program.  I have never attended a more worthwhile professional development! I was initially skeptical when I saw the huge time commitment but I am so glad that I decided to go forward with it. 

    The methods taught at APEX for Physics education went so far beyond just content knowledge. The information on how to elicit students' prior thoughts, identify errors and then methods to challenge those thoughts with evidence was invaluable. This method teaches science by having students do science.  Having Science in Motion specialists as attendees as well as funding equipment that can be borrowed by teachers across the state ensured that we had the materials needed to sustain what we had learned. I must also admit that one of the largest benefits of the program turned out to be the huge time commitment. By spending 2 weeks and 2 weekends with the same teachers each year for 3 years I have developed a wide network of fellow physics teachers and friends that I can use as a sounding board for ideas, a resource to solve problems and to share my successes with. I would highly encourage others to continue with this vision.

  • Icon for: Mohan Aggarwal

    Mohan Aggarwal

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 01:11 p.m.

    Dear Ms. Jennifer Talbot

       your comments are heartwarming and gratifying. we thank you for taking the time to write these lines for APEX project. Major kudos and appreciation go to Jim and Jane Nelson.

     

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    Leslie Royer

    K-12 Teacher
    May 14, 2019 | 09:03 a.m.

    I was a member of Cohort 3.  I had very little physics knowledge before I started teaching physics.  Basically, the first day of school, I found out I was teaching 2 physics classes.  There were no textbooks or supplies.  Attending these workshops saved me.  The instructors were very understanding and really made the topics covered easy for a non-physics person to not only comprehend, but to teach confidently.  I still have every notebook and each summer I go through and pick out what activities I can do for my curriculum.  There were so many hands-on activities at the workshops that I cannot do all of them in a year, so it is fun to change it up year to year.  Best workshop I have ever attended.  Would love to go back!

  • Icon for: Mohan Aggarwal

    Mohan Aggarwal

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 02:10 p.m.

    Thank you very much for your comments, we are so happy that professional development workshops were useful for you and that it increased your confidence. we are appreciative of your taking time to write these comments.

     

  • Small default profile

    Robyn Lowe

    K-12 Teacher
    May 14, 2019 | 11:29 a.m.

    APEX has been one of the most valuable PD experiences of my teaching career. It has completely transformed my physics classes. 

    Before APEX,

    • I taught from PPTs and books.
    • I gave them the formulas, and they worked practice problems.
    • We did verification labs at the end.
    • Honestly, it wasn't really that exciting.

    And now,

    • We do elicitation activities that get them invested in the content.
    • The majority of their learning comes from labs.
    • They develop formulas themselves through experimentation and analysis (4-step). The first time they discovered a formula for themselves, they thought it was so cool: "Wait, what? We did that?" "That's awesome!" "I feel like a real scientist!"
    • They do practice problems based on what they learned in lab.
    • They're much more excited and engaged.
    • I have sooooo many more resources.
    • I've made connections with other teachers, and we collaborate on ideas.

    APEX is a fantastic program, and I'm so thankful to have had the opportunity to be involved.

    #Cohort3Rules

  • Icon for: Nicholas Sourvelis

    Nicholas Sourvelis

    K-12 Teacher
    May 14, 2019 | 04:02 p.m.

    Same Robyn. 

  • Icon for: Mohan Aggarwal

    Mohan Aggarwal

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2019 | 07:16 a.m.

    Dear Robyn and Nicholas

          Thanks for sharing your thoughts about APEX professional development. it is so satisfying to learn that you are able to utilize APEX resources such as 4 step method and making the students excited about discovery and science. it also says about your dedication to teaching. We are grateful to all the participants as well as our instructors Jim and Jane Nelson for such a wonderful job.

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    Cynthia NBCT

    K-12 Teacher
    May 14, 2019 | 02:26 p.m.

    By far the best professional development I have ever received in my 23 years of teaching.  APEX totally revolutionized how I approach teaching physics--students now learn physics concepts within the context of a lab investigation and students learn how to derive equations from analyzing data (4-Step Process) rather than just memorizing them.  I have easily doubled the number of labs that I conduct for any given unit.  Through APEX (Cohort 2) I was able to complete the majority of the coursework required for a master's in Physics Education and received a Recognition of Excellence Award from Praxis for scoring 180/200 on the physics content knowledge exam.  

  • Icon for: Mohan Aggarwal

    Mohan Aggarwal

    Lead Presenter
    May 17, 2019 | 06:58 a.m.

    Thank you very much for your comments and use of APEX methods of professional development in your career, especially receiving a Recognition of Excellence Award form Praxis in physics content knowledge. The credit of this achievement goes to your hard work and training by Jim and Jane Nelson who served as a guide post for this project

  • Icon for: Nicholas Sourvelis

    Nicholas Sourvelis

    K-12 Teacher
    May 14, 2019 | 04:01 p.m.

    APEX was transformational. A great example is a recent award and recognition I received. A unit on Newton’s Laws I designed using the APEX model was submitted for the University of Alabama, Excellence in Teaching Award for Science. I won. I give all the credit to all that were involved with APEX, Jim, Jane, and especially my fellow teacher COLLEAGUES!

      Thank you, APEX.
  • Icon for: Mohan Aggarwal

    Mohan Aggarwal

    Lead Presenter
    May 17, 2019 | 07:03 a.m.

    Thanks a lot for sharing the information of your winning the University of Alabama Excellence in Teaching Award for Science. The credit of this certainly goes to your hard work and also Jim and Jane Nelson as you also mention. Thanks again for being proactive.

  • Icon for: Jacob Grohs

    Jacob Grohs

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2019 | 05:22 a.m.

    Thanks for sharing your work! Sometimes it seems there can be a tension between best meeting the needs of teachers/schools while also balancing the priorities of the project which can include significant research and/or evaluation goals.  How have you all navigated this -- ever felt like the educational research component or the practical approach taken in working with teachers had to shift to accommodate the other? Lessons learned or advice for others about that process?

  • Icon for: Mohan Aggarwal

    Mohan Aggarwal

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2019 | 07:19 a.m.

    Thank you for your question. You are right that sometimes it seems that research evaluation by external evaluation group and the teacher’s needs have to be met. Teachers have to fill some questionnaire at the end of the session and that is sometimes a challenge. I would like to mention that we had that feeling in the beginning, but in later years it became much smoother. Our education research group was led by Dr. Dennis Sunal from the University of Alabama and he has been able to publish the book chapter entitled “Harper, K., Clark, T. & Ding, L. (2019). Destabilizing the status quo in STEM professional development with modeling instruction. In Sunal, D., Shemwell, J., Harrell, J. & Sunal C.). Physics Teaching and Learning: Challenging the Paradigm. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing. Our external evaluators Horizon Research were very accommodating and were very flexible to impart the maximum benefit for the teacher-scholars.

  • Icon for: Dianne Kirnes

    Dianne Kirnes

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2019 | 09:44 a.m.

    Kudos to you Nicholas!  It is great that you guys were able to effectively apply the knowledge and skills you acquired from

    the APEX project.

  • Icon for: Mary Murphy

    Mary Murphy

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2019 | 05:20 p.m.

    Great to hear from all the teachers.  It adds some real perspective on impact.  Thank you!

  • Small default profile

    Brandi Jones

    K-12 Teacher
    May 16, 2019 | 05:28 p.m.

    When I signed up for APEX, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  I just knew that I needed to learn something about physics because we needed a physics teacher at my school. My knowledge was limited to memorizing and using formulas.  After a very slow start, I learned a lot!  Words cannot express the gratitude that I have for my APEX experience.  The Nelsons and the rest of the APEX team taught me physics content, teaching and learning strategies, and classroom management strategies that have turned me into the teacher that I am today. 

    My first physics class consisted of 15 students.  This year I taught a total of 73 students!  Because of my experience with APEX, I have added at least 13 discovery student activities to the course. These activities allow opportunities for students to collect data, analyze it, and use graphs to determine the relationship between the types of data.  Students derive equations for topics such as speed, acceleration, and force!  Also, the number of activities that focus on engineering tasks has increased.  The students create projects throughout the year that require them to design and build circuits and solve real life problems.

    The class has gained a reputation as a hands-on learning class.  Each year, more and more teachers visit my classroom to observe and collaborate.  Students and their parents have given thanks to the physics class for helping the student increase his/her ACT or ASVAB score.   

    Thank you APEX! You have made physics exciting for me, my students, and their parents!  

     

       

  • Icon for: Mohan Aggarwal

    Mohan Aggarwal

    Lead Presenter
    May 18, 2019 | 05:59 a.m.

    Dear Ms. Jones

    Thank you very much for sharing your APEX experience with us. I do commend you for your hard work, aptitude to learn and proactive spirit. As you mention about Nelsons, PIs are grateful to NSF, Jim, and Jane Nelson, other APEX team and the participants to make it successful. your experience is an example of huge success and it shall bear fruits for quite some time to come. thank you again for sharing your observations of APEX Professional development

  • Small default profile

    Jim Nelson

    May 20, 2019 | 12:46 p.m.

    A note from Jim and Jane Nelson

    The nearly six years that we spent with Alabama teachers is a highlight in our careers. We didn’t know it would cause us to constantly consider each and every activity, the order of the activities, and how deeply to present the ideas of each area of content … until we arrived in Alabama. The teachers asked us, “Why should we do this activity? When should this activity come in the sequence? How much of this content should we include?” The teachers helped us know just what they wanted in their professional development. One of the first things that we noticed was that some teachers had excellent instincts about the process of teaching, others had excellent knowledge of physics, some were newcomers to the profession, many were biology or chemistry teachers suddenly told that they were physics teachers now, and others were “old-timers” just checking to see if there was something new on the horizon. We talked about this mix, and we decided, the group of teachers was as diverse as our own students. One of the advantages we had was that we were still teaching our own classes, and the teachers knew that we were not going to lecture to them about how they ought to teach. We were going to teach them as if they were in our own classes, with the idea that we knew that they were adult teachers. So periodically, we would stop and have “teacher to teacher” talks.

                The first few days of the first workshop took some of the teachers by surprise as they found that they were not going to take notes while we lectures from a power point. In addition, they were surprised that they were asked to work with equipment, take data, graph data, and create an equation from the data. To add to the mix, the activity was a very basic scientific activity. The teachers wondered just what they had signed up to do. However, by the third day, a teacher suddenly called out, “I know what the slope means and why I am doing this.”   Others began to appreciate that big ideas have to stand on solid foundations. Memorizing equations and working problems is math, not physics. Science is a process of looking at the world and wondering how it works. Physics looks at the physical world and tries to see the trends in various aspects of that world. The teachers began to appreciate that they would have to take data to find the trends. Physics is not a history class, it is a world where students can take data, find trends, and make predictions based upon the trends… known as “working problems”. The idea of finding relationships from actual data is not new. The Modeling Approach to the Teaching of Physics, began at Arizona State University many years ago. We just added our modified approach to their ideas, much like a cook begins with a good recipe and adds other special ingredients. The teachers always wanted MORE.

             We would return from a two-week workshop with more work to do to find ways for the teachers to continue to use inquiry, hands-on, student driven classes. We searched for on line simulations that could augment their lessons. Of course, real life is best, but not always possible. Sometimes a student is absent. Real teachers know that happens. So sometimes simulations are a good back up plan. We let the teachers experience low-tech, high tech, and simulations so that they could use what they had available. The basic idea of let the students experience physics as a process of discovering how the physical world works by using data, math, (the language of the land of physics), and thinking about what the math says was, and is, the goal. The Alabama APEX teachers are making a difference, in their classrooms, in their departments, and in their schools. They are reaching out to make a difference in their state. We applaud them and wish them well in their pursuits.

  • Icon for: Mohan Aggarwal

    Mohan Aggarwal

    Lead Presenter
    May 20, 2019 | 04:08 p.m.

    PIs of APEX at Alabama A&M University are very grateful to you Jim and Jane Nelson for devoting your heart and soul in the implementation of professional development: Physics Teaching during summer and weekend workshops. Your guidance at every stage of the project had been praiseworthy. You have left an indelible mark and deep influence for physics Teaching in Alabama high schools. We cannot thank you enough.

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    Jim Nelson

    May 20, 2019 | 12:48 p.m.

    For those interested in how the APEX project was evaluated.  The following list of APEX Project Evaluation Components is provided

    • Action Research supervised by University of Alabama
    • Classroom Visitation Conductd by University of Alabama
    • Content Elicitation ala Facet Innovations
    • Formative Assessment (Used During Institute)
    • Post Institute Participant Content Assessment by Horizon Research Inc.
    • Post Institute Participant Survey by Horizon Research Inc.
    • Pre Institute Participant Content Assessment by Horizon Research Inc.
    • Pre Institute Participant Survey by Horizon Research Inc.
    • Project Summary and Report by Horizon Research Inc.
    • Student Post Content Assessment
    • Student Pre Content Assessment
  • Icon for: Dennis Sunal

    Dennis Sunal

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 20, 2019 | 01:21 p.m.

    Significant change results were found with student achievement in physics content in force and motion concepts and modeling activities. In addition, significant changes in classroom teaching approach and student engagement were found during 8 days of class observations during visitations over four years of professional development - pre, year 2, year 3, and post. For more information see published reports.

  • Icon for: Nicholas Sourvelis

    Nicholas Sourvelis

    K-12 Teacher
    May 21, 2019 | 09:59 a.m.

    Here you’ll find the most refreshing aspect of the APEX professional development as quoted by Jane Nelson.

    “...the teachers knew that we were not going to lecture to them about how they ought to teach. We were going to teach them as if they were in our own classes, with the idea that we knew that they were adult teachers.” 

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.