May 2009
Vol 6 No 5

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Teachers.Net Gazette Vol.6 No.5 May 2009

Cover Story by Matt Levinson
Schools and Facebook: Moving Too Fast,
or Not Fast Enough?
Schools can draw a line in the sand, with zero tolerance rules written into school handbooks, or they can shift with the changing sands of social networking and utilize social networking and Facebook to enhance teaching and learning.

Harry & Rosemary Wong: Effective Teaching
Teachers Are the Greatest Assets
On the first day of school, the teacher across the hall commented to me that my students are "always so good!" It's not the students; it's the procedures that have proven to work. The First Days of School helps me to manage my class, so that I can be an effective teacher.

»Comedy Highlights from Room K-1! Sue Gruber
»What Will Your Students Remember? Leah Davies
»My Mrs. Krikorian Todd R. Nelson
»Discipline Is a Liberating Word Marvin Marshall
»The Busy Educator's Monthly Five Marjan Glavac
»Help! Too Much Talk! Not Enough Work! Barbara Pressman
»Mayan Sites and Paris Easy on the Purse Josette Bonafino
»The Little Things that Count in Our Schools: Doing Something Different, Simple and Powerful Cheryl Sigmon
»Teacher Morale Matters Dorothy Rich
»Team Management - It’s in the Cards Rick Morris
»Teaching and Learning for the 21st Century Hal Portner

»The Document Camera: A Better Way to Present! Joe Frisk
»Need a Teaching Job? Here’s Where to Find One Alan Haskvitz
»Make Twitter an Ally in the Classroom! Alan Haskvitz
»Teaching Is... Bill Page
»Celebrating True Heroes Graysen Walles
»Digital Pens & Touch-Screens Tim Newlin
»12 Ways to Improve and Enhance Your Paraprofessional- Teacher Experience Susan Fitzell
»May 2009 Writing Prompts James Wayne
»Using Photographs To Inspire Writing VII Hank Kellner
»How to Increase the Number of Physics and Chemistry Majors Stewart E. Brekke
»Bibliotherapy Booklist for Elementary Students Lisa Bundrick
»8 Ways to Make Math Magical at School Steve Sherman
»5 Brainteasers Steve Sherman
»What Will You Do For Shy Kids? Marjie Braun Knudsen

»Apple Seeds: Inspiring Quotes Barb Stutesman
»Today Is... Daily Commemoration Ron Victoria
»The Lighter Side of Teaching
»Photo Tour: 3rd Grade Classroom
»Teacher Blogs Showcase
»Carol Goodrow's Kids Running Printables
»Dolch word activities, end of first grade test, first grade memory book, map and geography lessons for all levels, IEP progress, and graduation ceremonies songs
»Video Bytes; Are You Going to Finish Strong?, Antarctica, Ted Talks - Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity?, How Big Is Will?, The Sling Shot Man, Styrofoam Cup vs. Deep Sea
»Live on Teachers.Net: May 2009
»New Teacher Induction Programs
»Newsdesk: Events & Opportunities for Teachers


The Teachers.Net Gazette is a collaborative project
published by the Teachers.Net community
Editor in Chief: Kathleen Alape Carpenter
Layout Editor: Mary Miehl

Cover Story by Matt Levinson

Effective Teaching by Harry & Rosemary Wong

Contributors this month: Matt Levinson, Sue Gruber, Leah Davies, Todd R. Nelson, Marvin Marshall, Marjan Glavac, Barbara Pressman, Josette Bonafino, Cheryl Sigmon, Dorothy Rich, Rick Morris, Hal Portner, Joe Frisk, Alan Haskvitz, Alan Haskvitz, Bill Page, Graysen Walles, Tim Newlin, Susan Fitzell, James Wayne, Hank Kellner, Stewart E. Brekke, Lisa Bundrick, Steve Sherman, Steve Sherman, Marjie Braun Knudsen, Barb Stutesman, Ron Victoria, Rita Sheffield, Carol Goodrow, and YENDOR.

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Stewart E Brekke

Archive | Biography | Resources | Discussion

How to Increase the Number of Physics and Chemistry Majors

There is a great untapped potential of minority students, average students and females, in the inner cities of this country who could become physics teachers and physicists, chemistry teachers and chemists, if only they could be turned on to a career in physics, chemistry and engineering.
by Stewart E Brekke, MS in Ed, MA
Continued from page 1
May 1, 2009

In order to turn students of all types on to physics so that they will make physics and chemistry their college major, the high school course must be made pleasurable in some way so that the students will remember that they had a good experience in high school physics and may have the same good experience in college physics. As B.F.Skinner once stated, good experiences produce pleasurable consequences. To keep those students in college physics and chemistry as majors, college physics teaching must be made more user friendly.

During the cold war the number of physics majors was high. Unfortunately, those college courses in the 60’s and 70’s were not user friendly and a virtual “bloodbath of physics and engineering failures” took place. While there were many majors in physics and related subjects, such as engineering, the number of actual graduates was far less in those majors, especially in the large state universities.

I found many at risk students, average to honors, could easily do the standard mathematical physics and chemistry course with varying degrees of help. I was able to empower these students to be able to solve a standard high school physics and chemistry problem and thereby be prepared for a mathematical college freshman course.

We need to employ the principles of learning instead of erroneously stressing so called “thinking” (a euphemism for actually making physics at all levels unnecessarily hard). Learning should be the emphasis in physics to keep and encourage physics majors, and not unnecessarily emphasizing struggling with the problems.

To be honest, to keep those college physics and chemistry majors, the college physics and chemistry texts need to be made more user friendly besides the teaching of those subjects themselves. Often, the problem solving aspect of the course, the main and most effective manner of teaching and learning physics and chemistry, has become a dreaded endeavor for the student, from the most competent to average, because the problems often have no example in the text, and most students cannot solve even basic physics and chemistry problems without some kind of outside help.

In fact a vast multimillion dollar industry has arisen in which physics, engineering and other technical mathematical problem solvers such as the wonderful Shaum’s College Outline Series provide insights into the solution of physics and chemistry problems, which could easily be solved if an example problem is given in the text. These physics texts often give hard problems under the erroneous pretext of raising the thinking capacity of the student, when in reality the student rarely does any thinking of that type to solve the problem. Mostly, the students look for an example of how to do the problem in a physics or a chemistry problem-solver, or get someone such as a friendly professor or a paid tutor to solve the problem.

Today a vast tutoring industry is developing across the nation. A few years ago I took an advanced physics course and hired a tutor twice a week at $20/hr to help me pass the course. I passed with an A, my time was maximized, and I learned quite a bit. In high school I interacted with a student of another teacher who spent six hours at home trying to solve a problem, which I showed her how to do in two minutes. An example in the text would have saved his young minority student six hours of wasted effort which if repeated again and again would have certainly turned her off on mathematics, a field in which she could make a decent wage if she majored in it.

In summary, we need to make high school and college physics and chemistry, graduate to undergraduate, more user friendly if we are to increase the number of physics and chemistry major. However, to increase the number of physics and chemistry majors is not enough. We must actually graduate a larger number of those initial physics and chemistry majors though better texts that employ the basic principles of learning, such as more examples of problems to be solved in the texts and the increased use of drills and practices of those problems.

We must also target more minority students, Black and Hispanic, and in all areas we must target average students and young women in the high schools. To reach these traditionally at-risk students in high school, where interest in physics and chemistry begins, we must make these traditionally “hard” courses much more user friendly.

» More Gazette articles...

About Stewart E Brekke...

Stewart E Brekke, MS in Ed, MA retired from Chicago Public Schools where he taught high school physics and chemistry.

Stewart E Brekke Articles on Teachers.Net...
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