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Physics and Physical Science Learning Community. “Make and Take” “PLU Workshop”. Zo Webster, Associate Professor Physics. Overview. Philosophy Who participated Participant impressions Objective results Conclusion - K12 educators need more physical science content knowledge.

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Physics and physical science learning community

Physics and Physical Science Learning Community

“Make and Take”

“PLU Workshop”

Zo Webster, Associate Professor Physics


  • Philosophy

  • Who participated

  • Participant impressions

  • Objective results

  • Conclusion - K12 educators need more physical science content knowledge

Professional learning communities
Professional Learning Communities

  • Theory: Bring people together to jointly define mission of an organization and to learn things to help provide continuous improvement to make the organization succeed. (DuFour & Eaker 1998)

  • We needed to have to have a slightly different sort of community - one of interested teachers willing to improve their own teaching within a community of likeminded professionals

What we did 1 invite the teachers
What we did. #1. invite the teachers

  • 4 sessions, 3 hours each, spread out one per month, January - April

  • Billed as make-n-take, but we didn’t always make!

  • PLU offered as incentive

  • 2 sessions about circuits (Webster)

  • 2 sessions about magnetism (Winfrey& Shaw)

Hands on minds on
Hands-on, minds-on

  • Used GPS as guide!

  • Started with a reading (and food)

  • Activities pre-planned - BUT always had teachers performing experiments to answer questions

    • Used mix of $ and $$ equipment and

    • All teachers took home SOME equipment each time - related to topic of day

  • Two faculty to help guide - needed!

  • Summarize conclusions/findings a few times each session

Physics and physical science learning community

  • In all, 11 teachers attended one or more of the workshops. 8 people attended 3 or more sessions

  • What did you value most?

  • #1 response - “networking” “talking with other teachers” “camaraderie”

  • #2 “increased content knowledge”

How will information gained help with student achievement
How will information gained help with student achievement?

  • “Hands-on learning -> hands-on teaching”

  • “I believe students learn by doing.”

  • “Shows me how to bring about a deeper understanding about concept.”

  • “Hopefully dispel some misconceptions”

  • “By correcting my own misconceptions so I don’t pass them on to my kids.”

  • My misconceptions being cleared up will allow me to explain it better to my students.”

Community part worked
Community part worked

  • Networking

  • Spending time with other professionals

  • High quality activities that can be used in classrooms tomorrow!

  • People enjoyed themselves.

  • Content knowledge development?

Pre test post test each session
Pre-test/Post-test each session

  • Some students gain each time

  • Gains may not persist (same test given in Jan/Feb and some participants regressed back to pre-test on Jan. content)

Circuits out of 10
Circuits - out of 10

  • Not all content on test explicitly covered in the series of two workshops


  • Even high school teachers don’t know everything when they arrive

Local needs highlighted
Local needs highlighted

  • Some content areas weak - even among experienced high school teachers

  • Although 55% of MCSD teachers are trained by CSU, insufficient Physics and Physical science content and pedagogy

  • Perhaps CSU should consider requiring a physical science and a life science in Area D for all

K 12 teachers need us
K-12 teachers need us!

  • We need to continue to have high content standards for our undergraduates

  • We need to teach in an inquiry way so our future teachers will teach that way

  • Content intensive workshops for existing teachers need to be continued

  • How can we get MCSD to invite us to help with PD they plan?

Areas for growth
Areas for Growth

  • More advertising - need a list of principals and science teachers and need to know that emails get through the spam filters!

  • At least one funding agency has a minimum of 12 teachers - so need to build interest

  • More cheap ideas for equipment to give away and share and use

  • Or an ‘equipment share’ van. We have workshops surrounding the equipment we have to loan.

Csu as 1
CSU as #1

  • To stand out in the state as a place for math and science education, we need to have a high profile with in-service teachers

  • AND provide high quality undergraduate programs in math, biology, chemistry, earth & space science secondary education

Toot my horn
Toot my horn!

  • Thanks to support of College of Science for encouraging work with schools, I have been attending meetings with Dept. of Ed about science policy for 3 years.

  • This led to my being asked to chair a committee to develop high school astronomy standards for the state of GA


  • And… that led to writing a grant to develop a curriculum to go with those new standards

  • Which led to being awarded the grant!

  • Georgians Experience Astronomy Research in Schools (GEARS)

  • In partnership with Georgia Southern. GA Dept. of Education as lead.