PowerPoint presentation by Matt
Greenwolfe. Strategies to convince students to value and use models.
More Models in Modeling - mechanics (Practice with the model problems)
by Matt Greenwolfe. For AMTA members; download at the
These 80 mechanics resources (as of 2012) include teacher
notes, paradigm labs, practice-with-the-model worksheets and whiteboard
problems with photos, ranking tasks, review problems, and lab practicums.
They are essential resources for improving student understanding in remedial
physics to honors physics.
Why did Matt develop them? Matt wrote:
In Dwain Desbien's doctoral dissertation, he found that
"students left modeling high school classes without seeing how models
were useful. They were just something the teacher made them do." He
made similar observations about the use of diagrams and graphs. He concluded
that asking students to identify the models they were using without a task
that authentically required models would leave students unconvinced of their
To remedy this, Dwain wrote open-ended problems that describe
a physical situation, provide some quantitative information, but ask no
specific question. Models then became authentically "necessary to figure
what its possible to know" and diagrams and graphs became "necessary
to link equations to models and to organize thinking."
My high school students found Dwain's problems to be overwhelming.
As I struggled to help them meet the challenge, I wondered what help I could
give them when the benefits of the task depended precisely on its open-ended
nature. Students were supposed to explore the situation by applying models
-- not follow a set of steps I provided for them.
The materials I provide are focused around four aids that
successfully resolve this paradox.
Jim Minstrell's Diagnoser Project is vast! It includes facet clusters ( i.e., a groupings of productive and unproductive facets of student ideas) in physics (many topics!), chemistry (atomic structure, changes in matter), and biology (human body system). An introduction is here.
Mulford's thesis: Chapter 1 on misconceptions in general chemistry.(Dr.
Mulford developed the Chemical Concepts Inventory,which is the basis of the
ABCC developed by a team led by Larry Dukerich, with Dr. Mulford's approval.)
Getting parents, students, and administrators as allies
Curriculum Night for parents: 20-minute science department activity view
Parents Night: a plan by Larry Dukerich. view or .doc
Why we have no textbook in physics: a letter to parents by Joe Morin. view or .pdf
Alternatives to a textbook in science, by Larry Dukerich view or .pdf
Two published articles, in one issue:
*Minimizing resistance to inquiry-oriented science instruction: the importance of climate setting, by Carl Wenning.
*Six years of Modeling Workshops: Three cautionary tales, by James Vesenka. .pdf.
Both are in Journal of Physics Teacher Education Online, vol. 3, #2. Dec. 2005.
Matt Greenwolfe's modeling
Matt wrote: "Class size is less than or equal to 20, so
in the U-shaped boardroom arrangement (sitting around the blue tables in
the center), all of the students sit in the front row, with the whiteboards
propped up on the lab tables behind them (the brown tables). This way I
can conduct circle whiteboarding in every class."
Grants for Instructional Technology, Improved Instruction, Modeling Workshops
How to get financial help to take a Modeling Workshop (2018) view. or .pdf
How to get Title
II funds from your school district, for Modeling Workshops (2018).
ESSA legislation requires teachers to be involved in the yearly application
to your state department of education.
Title II legislation: excerpts from ESSA, for use by teachers in school districts & charter schools. view
or .pdf . (with definition of professional development, from Title VIII: General Provisions. view
or .pdf .)