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In the article titled How to not Teach Physics by Denis Rancourt, he raises

many interesting questions on the teaching of physics. This article was posted to an
educational website with the goal of educational reform. Denis Rancourt was a professor
at the University of Ottawa where he taught introductory physics. He grew steadily
frustrated at the lack of understanding the students showed on his final exams, he would
pour countless hours into forming a set of lesson plans that would get the students to
finally understand by using activities, demonstrations, and explanations.
In his 21st year of teaching the material he decided that students dont learn
physics by him teaching it so he had the students led the discussion every class. The
students would come in with questions and the class would discuss what they thought
was the cause of these phenomenon. Mr. Rancourt was however fired a few years later
for his radical style of teaching even though the students did much better on his final
exams that year.
How can I apply this to my unit? Although I am not teaching an introductory
physics course, my unit is more focused, I think there are some valuable takeaways. I will
not take as radical an approach as Denis Rancourt did but I can use pieces of it. I love his
suggestion of having the students lead the learning and discussion. This allows the
students to talk about what they are interested in and work at explaining the phenomenon.
I will take a day during my unit to have students ask about examples of Force and
Motion that they have seen in their lives and discuss them. The students have already
shown that they are immensely curious on these topics. My previous discussions with the
students on similar material brought up five or six questions that I didnt have time to
answer then but would be valuable to delve a little deeper into. A discussion period with

student led questions will keep the students interested, show them the material is fun and
promote learning. Mr. Rancourt recalls looking at the final exams and thinking, I had a
sense that the students had understood things, could explain them, and owned their
knowledge. I hope my students get a similar feel even it is only for a day.

I found the second article on Kids Discovers website. It is designed to teach

young kids about how and why things move, it is titled Forces and Motion and was
written by Margaret Mittelbach. The article begins by defining motion and giving
examples before describing how forces are behind each motion we see while giving the
definition of a force. After that the article explained and defined friction giving many
examples. The article also discusses with students that there is no frictionless surface
even if something appears to be frictionless and perfectly smooth it is in fact actually
rough at a microscopic level. Following friction the article discusses what it calls
invisible forces, or non-contact forces such as gravity and magnetism. It briefly describes
examples of magnetism and gravity as well as how these forces are important. The article
also briefly covers Newtons First Law of Motion and defines inertia with examples.
Finally the article discusses the difference between mass and weight. At the end of the
article there was a brief quiz to see how much you understood.
The article is written for a much younger audience so none of the material was
new to me and originally I didnt think I could use it. It is however still useful in many
ways. I can use the definitions of friction, gravity and force in my unit because they are
simple to understand. The article also contains many really good examples and
descriptions of forces. These are examples that most students will have experience with
so they will be able to connect with them and better understand the material. The last
reason I think this article is great in that it covers the material that I intended to in my
introductory lesson. In my unit the day after that lesson the students will read the article
on laptops. It should hopefully be review and enforcement of the content after that the
students will create quizzes over the article with a partner to give to other students. The

students will not be graded on how well they do on each others quizzes but how they
created their own quiz. This will require them to think over the content and taking the
other students quizzes will further put the information in their long term memory from
their active working memory. Finally this will give me an informal assessment of how
well the students understand the content. This idea was inspired by the article and
Professor Keeley.

In the article, Developing a Test of Scientific Literacy Skills (TOSLS):

Measuring Undergraduates Evaluation of Scientific Information and Arguments
Scientific scientific literacy is described as the ability to use scientific knowledge in real
world circumstances. The journal describes the need for assessment of scientific literacy
and describes how the Test of Scientific Literacy Skills (TOSLS) was created. This test
was developed for use in a college classroom. They began by evaluating the validity of
the content by further defining skills key to scientific literacy such as understanding
inquiry that leads to scientific knowledge, different aspects of data analyze. Further
research was done into these categories before a pilot study was conducted where a pre
and post-test were given. Overall the TOSLS is useful for evaluating teaching scientific
literacy and what areas are lacking.
The classrooms in the study were broken into two categories; traditional lecturebased and project-based classrooms. The students who were in the project-based
classrooms generally had greater gains on the TOSLS. These projects were hands on
activities that allowed the students to interact more with the material. This is significant
because it supports my belief that science should not be taught in the traditional sense.
Science is an experience. In other words the students should be exploring these models
and content on their own through a guided exploration phase. This also gives students
with different abilities opportunities to shine in different ways. Group projects especially
would be helpful for the students as it takes the pressure off individual students and roles
can be assigned to accommodate unique learners. This article further provides evidence
that activities and experiments are critical aspects of science. I tried to incorporate

activities as much as possible for example the lessons Newtons 3rd Law and Masses
Influence on Force incorporate activites.

Gormally, C., Brickman, P., & Lutz, M. (2012). Developing a Test of Scientific Literacy
Skills (TOSLS): Measuring Undergraduates' Evaluation of Scientific Information
and Arguments. Cell Biology Education, 364-377. Retrieved April 19, 2015, from
Mittelbach, M. (2014, October 13). Force and Motion - KIDS DISCOVER. Retrieved
April 8, 2015, from
Rancourt, D. (2013). How to Not Teach Physics. Dissent Voice. Retrieved April 7, 2015,