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The Science of Group Work

Chris Meyer
President, Ontario Association of Physics Teachers
Hybrid Teacher-Coach for Science, Toronto District School Board
christopher.meyer@tdsb.on.ca

Who really likes group work? You know, like when your admin groups the staff at meetings to work on exciting, meaningful tasks? Many students grumble and resent group work, some of them knowing that they will have to pull the full weight of their team. There is a good chance that you did totally fine at school without much meaningful group work, so why bother, right? The reality is that group work is often organized poorly or haphazardly, making for an unsatisfying experience. However, when done well, group work is the most effective learning environment for the vast majority of students. Education research has compared the learning outcomes of many different learning environments and the ones that consistently come out on top are those that deeply integrate group learning. If you haven’t been a fan of group work in the past, I encourage you to read on! We will explore how the brain works, how group work helps it, and share some tips that will hopefully encourage you to look at group work in a new light. Read More...

Demonstrating Diversity in Physics Content Videos

Roberta Tevlin, teacher at Danforth CTI
roberta@tevlin.ca

I like to use videos that are just a few minutes long in my classes. I use them to supplement the hands-on activities and show physics that is too dangerous, difficult or expensive to do in the classroom. However, I recently noticed that almost all of the videos I use are hosted by people who are white and male. This reinforces a pervasive stereotype about what sorts of people do physics — which is not a message that I want my students to receive.

I went on a hunt for videos that could change that perception and I have put together a spreadsheet of what I have found so far. Read More...

Increasing the Gender Diversity in Lecture Content

Sara Cormier, Instructional Assistant, McMaster University
cormiesl@mcmaster.ca

At the 2018 OAPT Conference held at IQC, University of Waterloo, I had a very lovely, inspiring conversation with Roberta Tevlin. As a side note, I always have productive chats at the OAPT conference with a variety of people (this is a shameless plug to encourage everyone to register for the 2020 OAPT conference at McMaster. It was during this conversation that we chatted about how to increase the diversity of the examples we share in class. Afterwards Roberta spearheaded the idea to create a resource to share with everyone that compiles diverse examples of physicists. She pulled Michelle Lee, Sara Naudts and me in to help. The resource is really great and well laid out. I am supremely impressed with it (I had only a small contribution in creating the resource) and have used it to increase the diversity in my own teaching which I describe below. To learn more and use this great resource yourself, I encourage you to read another OAPT article (after you finish reading this one, of course), written by Roberta. You are also welcome to use any of the examples I’ve used below. Read More...

Shining the Light on Grade 10 Optics

Adam Mills
Vice President of Teaching and Learning, Ontario Association of Physics Teachers
Department Head of Science, Assumption College Catholic High School
adam_mills@wecdsb.on.ca

This article is the first in a two-part series surrounding the development of an inquiry-based optics unit for grade 10 Science. The focus of this first article is to provide the reasoning why inquiry-based optics is needed in Science 10 and some of the important ideas that I introduce to help battle the preconceptions students hold.

I taught Science 10 for the first time in a while last year, and I have it again this year (by request). After changing the way I taught Physics 11 and 12 to a more inquiry-based style, I decided to do something similar with Science 10. This in turn led me down a path towards more effectively introducing optics to my students. In speaking with other teachers, I quickly found that the simplicity of the mathematics in the optics unit can often mask serious conceptual difficulties. I began to look at what Physics Education Research had to say about the common conceptual misunderstandings and came across the following series of questions asked by Goldberg and McDermott in their 1987 paper [1].    Read More...
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