About the Teacher Toolkits


What is a Teacher Toolkit?

With The Physics Classroom's Teacher Toolkits, a physics teacher - whether a seasoned veteran or a newcomer to the trade - is equipped with a collection of resources to design lessons and units that foster learning, improve engagement, and facilitate instruction. A Toolkit consists of a package of digital resources organized around a topic and a set of learning objectives. Each Toolkit provides links to simulations, videos, animations, demonstration ideas, and other great resources on the web. These resources, when combined with the variety of resources found on The Physics Classroom website, allow physics teachers to prepare engaging, multimedia lessons and to design awesome units. 


What is so special about a Teacher Toolkit?

With an internet connection and a search engine, it doesn't take a lot of effort these days to find any old physics resource. Any teacher can rush a lesson together the evening before class. And any teacher can make up a unit as they go. But that's not what the Teacher Toolkits are about. The Teacher Toolkits are about empowering teachers to plan out their unit in advance with trusted tools from trusted sources. It takes time, effort, and skill to find a high-quality, reliable simulation (or video or animation or demonstration idea or ...) that is tailored to a specific learning outcome, that satisfies national science standards, that coordinates with your students' textbook, and that is reinforced by a collection of other classroom-ready and teacher-friendly accompaniments (labs, problem-solving exercises, concept-building worksheets, etc.).

The Physics Classroom understands that teachers have papers to grade, tests to prepare, students to help, equipment to fix, equipment to order, labs to set up, labs to take down, cafeterias to supervise, faculty meetings to attend, sports to coach, activities to supervise, committees to chair, parents to call, etc. The list of things to do becomes exhausting ... and the most important item has not even been listed - preparing lessons and units and implementing them with students. The Physics Classroom can't attend you faculty meetings (and doesn't want to). We can't talk to your students' parents. We can't set up nor take down your labs. But we can help you prepare and plan units and lessons that utilize high-quality, engaging resources that satisfy national education standards. The Teacher Toolkits are about helping busy teachers prepare awesome units and lessons. We've taken the time to identify learner objectives and to find the best of the best in physics simulations, videos, animations, etc. that address those objectives. We've packaged these resources together with the great tools found on our own website. We've identified national standards that are addressed by such lessons. We have identified common misconceptions addressed by many of the resources. Where appropriate, we have even included links to recognized Physics Education Research (PER). And we've put all of this great stuff together as a Teacher Toolkit that is viewable in three different formats.


Three Ways to View Them

Teacher Toolkits are viewable in three different formats
  • An HTML Format
    Toolkits can be viewed as a standard HTML pae. The HMTL format is perfect for the teacher who is interested in viewing all the details associated with a toolkit. The HTML format allows teachers to click on links and preview the resources in a separate browser tab.
     
  • A PDF Format
    The PDF format includes all the information contained in the HTML format; the PDF format is ideal for downloading to disk and even customizing to one's own liking.The PDF is framed in a scrollable box; right-clicking on the PDF presents the viewer with a variety of options that vary with the browser type.
     
  • An abbreviated Toolkit To Go Format
    The Toolkit To Go format is an abbreviated version of a Toolkit. Many of the annotations have been removed or shortened in an effort to fit everything on two sides of a sheet of paper. The To Go format is perfect for the teacher who would like to print the Toolkit and include it in their hard copy files. These aabreviated toolkits are also framed as a PDF inside a scrollable box; right-clicking on the PDF presents the viewer with a variety of options that vary with the browser type.

About the Standards

In this age of increasing emphasis on teacher accountability and standardized testing, it’s become increasingly important that public school teachers address national standards of education. For many teachers, national standards and the standardized testing that accompanies them has become a topic of controversy and dissatisfaction. While we didn't create the standards or the tests, we’re here to help. When it comes to the task of designing standards-compliant lessons and units, we've got you covered. Our Teacher Toolkits were developed with an eye toward intersection with three sets of education standards: the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), the Math and ELA Common Core, and the Heller/Stewart Standards for College-Ready Physics. We’ve taken extra care to integrate the NGSS Practices to help you address new standards for modeling, experimentation, data interpretation, and computational reasoning. All Toolkit components – simulations, videos, readings, problem sets, lab activities, and concept development exercises – are mapped to the 3 sets of standards. You’ll find the alignments listed at the bottom of every Toolkit, ready for you to reference and save as evidence of standards-based instruction. 


About the Curator

Teacher Toolkits were packaged by Caroline Hall, Communications Manager for The Physics Classroom. Caroline is no newcomer to the field of physics education. She has served as Managing Editor of ComPADRE Digital Library for Physics and Astronomy since 2005, with 8 years classroom teaching prior to that. She’s been instrumental in the development of The Physics Front digital collection for K-12 science teachers and in content assembly for The Physics Source collection for college-level introductory physics. She’s also served as project lead for NSF-funded RET programs (Research Experiences for Teachers) and project manager for a Materials Science Research & Engineering Center (MRSEC). Her private consulting credentials include PBS Learning Media, The Concord Consortium, NASA Jet Propulsion Lab, and Denver Public Schools.  We call her “The Physics Librarian of the Web”.



Usage Policy

Teachers are of course welcome to use the Teacher Toolkits. After all, that is what they have been made for. The Physics Classroom also invites teachers to print out the toolkits for inclusion in their hard-copy files; if you're printing, we recommend that you print the To-Go versions of the Toolkits in order to save on paper. Finally, The Physics Classroom grants teachers the right to download the Toolkits to their personal file space and to modify and personalize them as desired. We do have a restriction regarding the Toolkits; please do not place any of the files on other servers that are publicly available. Toolkits are the sole property of The Physics Classroom; we paid for their development and we should remain the sole source of distribution to the public.


A Work in Progress

Finally, the Teacher Toolkit section of the website is a work in progress. We're not done writing Toolkits for the variety of topics in physics. This section opened in June of 2014 and work on the Toolkits will continue through the 2014-15 school year. We have plans to address all the topics that are covered in The Physics Classroom Tutorial, providing teachers with a complete collection of digital packages for preparing engaging, mulitmedia lessons and awesome units. This is one more way that The Physics Classroom serves students, teachers and classrooms with high-quality, classroom-ready, user-friendly resources that promote teaching and learning. 

We encourage teachers to follow us on Twitter or Facebook in order to receive regular updates when a new Toolkit comes online. In addition to keeping current about what is happening with Teacher Toolkits, you can view announcements regarding other developments, new pages on our site, information about our Pinterest boards. You might even enjoy our popular Teacher Stories that highlight how teachers like you are using The Physics Classroom with their classes and as a lesson preparation tool.

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