One of the goals of APlusPhysics.com is to provide students with the resources they need to be successful. As I'm sure you can all imagine, as educators we struggle with finding ways to set our kids up for success. And today's students face a wide variety of challenges that hamper their ability to learn through traditional means. Students who aren't in attendance, for reasons that may range from illness to family issues to special needs, are immediately at a disadvantage in technical classes in which content continues to build throughout the year on an ever-expanding foundation. Throw in the challenges of large class sizes (I'm outnumbered by students by more than 100:1), and regardless of how much time I'd like to devote to each of my kids, there's no way to meet everyone's needs all the time.
Toward this end, APlusPhysics is designed to provide a "home base," of sorts, for all students to begin to learn to teach themselves. The forums provide an opportunity for discourse and an online student-supported "help desk," of sorts. Plus, any time you can get a student writing about what they know, they're solidifying their understanding and building critical thinking skills. If you can get them to teach others while they're at it, you've really built something special.
The blog portion of the website is a great way to get students to develop their metacognition, writing about what they do and don't understand, creating an ongoing journal of their learning. It's also a great way to get them to really think about the essential questions in physics, organizing their thoughts to develop "big picture" conceptual understanding of what they're learning, and why."The best way to learn is to teach." -- Frank Oppenheimer
The main website, still under construction, will house key material central to each of the supported physics courses. I'm starting my work with the NY Regents Physics Curriculum, first, because I currently teach four sections of that course and the material I develop is directly useful to the majority of my students, and secondly, it's the simplest of the physics courses I teach, which provides a terrific sandbox for me to grow my web development skills, hopefully limiting my struggles to the technical side of web building, so that by the time I build the AP-C section out, I can balance content / pedagogical challenges with the (hopefully) less daunting technical challenges.
I also see APlusPhysics as a great resource for the upcoming introduction of the AP-1 and AP-2 courses, being expanded out of the current AP-B curriculum. Currently it appears many of us AP physics teachers are holding in a quasi-limbo state waiting to understand exactly what will be included in each course, to what level, and how we can best integrate it into our school's offerings to provide the best possible learning experiences that will most benefit our students. But the College Board has been slow to disseminate information, updates promised in the fall have not been received, and the teachers continue to wait, as patiently as we can. My goal is to build up the AP-1 and AP-2 sections of the website so that when final announcements are made, we all have a resource we can turn to and utilize as we re-tool our physics programs.
Finally, I want APlusPhysics to be a repository of materials for educators to share the best of our ideas, activities, challenges and successes. The Forum already has an Educators Only section, but I also want to populate the website with activities we can use to bring physics to life for our students, encompassing everything from projects and challenges to mini-programs such as the Semiconductor Technology Enrichment Program (STEP), providing students an introduction into the world of semiconductors, a discipline quite regularly neglected in educational communities despite its profound influence on our daily lives.
So with that, allow me to welcome you to APlusPhysics. I'm hoping to continue utilizing this blog to document my progress in building this resource, both so you as customers / consumers / contributors can see what progress is being made and perhaps even help guide my work to make this a better resource for us all, to allow you to learn from my mistakes, and to organize my own thoughts around what I want to accomplish, and how I can make the vision I have for APlusPhysics a reality.
Make it a great day everyone!