MARIUS SCHAMSCHULA
APEX: Four step active learning in Alabama High Schools
DUE1238192
The APEX project is comprised of several components, each with its own subset of goals relating to the overarching goal of transforming secondary physics education in Alabama. One of the goals of the APEX is to provide teacher training to increase the depth and breadth of content knowledge, pedagogy infused with instructional technology. Many of the laboratory activities performed during the APEX professional development deal with the relationship among variables. For example, the relationship between the distance an object falls and the time of falling. Rather that taking a single reading to verify an equation given in textbook, the students work in teams to make several measurements of the times for several different distances. The data is then analyzed graphically. The analysis starts with a mathematical statement based on the graph, and then the variables and constants are identified as it relates to the specific measurements. This results in a general relationship that summarizes the data and can be used to solve problems for similar situations.
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Marius Schamschula
The Four Step Active Learning technique is one of several components that are fundamental to the APEX teaching approach. The Four Step Method represents the pipeline from experiment, to data, to mathematical expression, to understanding the underlying physics.
Read more about the other components of APEX on our website.
Brian Drayton
Hi, Marius,
The video gives a good sense of the teachers’ working with the physics, and in a sense reengaging with the fundamentals of the science. I notice from your website that teachers participate in cohorts. Are these annual groups? Do they overlap at all (eg. Cohort 1 and Cohort 2)? Does the program provide a structured or programmatic way for the teachers to stay in touch with each other between events? My questions are related to the challenge of translating PD to actual practice under the pressures of the classroom setting…
Marius Schamschula
There are three cohorts that are in the program for three years each. The cohorts are staggered by a year. The first cohort just completed the program this spring, while the second cohort will finish next year, etc. Each cohort participates in a two week summer teacher’s institute and three two day follow up workshops during the academic year. This video was recorded at one of theses follow up workshops this January.
Beside face to face meetings at the workshops, we have several ways for the teachers to stay in touch:
1) Several mailing lists
2) A Virtual Professional Learning Community
3) The Alabama Science in Motion (ASIM) Specialists
Sarah Gerard
Interesting work! What kind of outcomes are you seeing for teachers and/or students?
Marius Schamschula
Students have really taken a liking to this, even to the degree, that some have asked teachers of their other classes (e.g. chemistry) to adopt this method!
Kelly Pudelek
I really how handson experiments are used to teach lessons. How do you ensure every team member is involved in the creation of the whiteboard, as opposed to one person doing all the work? Is that even an issue?
Marius Schamschula
Obviously, there is never a guarantee that all members will be equally involved in creating the whiteboard, but it is the teacher’s job to keep each group on task. Most importantly, the right ‘culture’ has to be established at the very beginning of the class, so that all members of a group participate. The instructor will call on every member of the group during the presentation phase. Thus, students that did not contribute to their groups whiteboard will likely not know how to present or answer any subsequent questions.
BTW, it is a good idea to change up the composition of the groups from time to time, e.g. daily or weekly. This encourages the more passive students to participate, as they cannot ‘lean’ on the same ‘stronger’ classmates every time.
Kelly Pudelek
Thanks! I completely agree switching groups would help encourage participation.
Marian Pasquale
Excellent feedback from students. They obviously are enjoying their physics class. You mention that, the Four Step Active Learning technique is one of several components fundamental to the APEX teaching approach. I’m interested in hearing about some of the other components?
Marius Schamschula
Last year’s video was more an overview of the entire APEX project. This year we wanted to highlight one specific aspect.
Marian Pasquale
Yes, I was just wondering about the other aspects of the teaching. Maybe it’s too much to go into here. I’m sure they’re all very interesting.
Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.