Expert modelers suggest getting parents on your side by having a Parents' Night, early in the school year. Read Larry Dukerich's strategy below: an excerpt from the compilation: ParentNight,OpenHouse99.pdf (at http://modeling.asu.edu/listserv.html)
FROM LARRY DUKERICH, now retired from Dobson HS in Mesa AZ; workshop leader and Co-Principal Investigator of our NSF grant at ASU in 1994-2000:
As far as educating parents goes, I suggest having a Parents' Night which is separate from the regular Open House that is too rushed to really do more than introduce oneself. During my 1.5 hour session, I take the parents through a couple of labs the students do and actually make them collect data and use Graphical Analysis. Then I show them whiteboards of good student presentations that I set aside for this night. I explain why I don't lecture any more than I have to; parents understand all too well that their kids misunderstand much of what they tell them, too. I explain that my goal is not to prepare the upper 20% to be engineers, but to get the top 50% or so really engaged so they view the world differently and to give the rest a shot at being successful so they don't simply drop out.
LARRY’S SAMPLE INVITATION TO PARENTS:
Dear Physics Parents,
At our recent Open House, I could give you only a brief glimpse at what we do in physics at Dobson HS. So, I thought I'd invite you to an Open Lab session at Dobson one week from tonight. My students will have just finished an experiment in which they learn about the acceleration of various objects down an inclined surface. I thought you might appreciate the chance to come in, play with the equipment, collect some data if you like and see what we do with Excel and Graphical Analysis.
I've worked with physics teachers from all over the country, so believe me when I tell you that we've got one of the best-equipped high school physics labs around. Our students have an opportunity to learn physics using a method that's gaining national recognition. Come see for yourselves!
7:00 - 9:00 PM
Dobson High School
Questions? Call 898-2940
Please detach and return bottom portion.
___Yes, I(we) plan to attend Open Lab.
___Sorry, we are unable to attend.
Student name __________________ Period _______________
On 8/24/15, LARRY DUKERICH posted a follow-up to the physics modeling listserv:
I did parents night on two levels when I taught physics long ago, as a way of getting parents to understand a bit about how Modeling Instruction is more engaging than the traditional approach to physics.
At Open House (which only gave me a 10-minute window with parents) I showed a battery-powered vehicle in action and then how we got graphical, algebraic, and diagrammatic representations to describe its motion. I described how we derived most of the equations that we used in physics, based on experiment.
I invited them to come back for a 1 to 2-hour session in which they got to check things out in greater detail. This Physics Night was attended by about 25 parents, most of whom were just checking to make sure that their kids were learning “real physics”. I set up several stations in which parents could actually do a data collection run to see how we collected data using probes, then examined a sample data set of data and how they could produce an equation from such an analysis. I had several whiteboards with “student” work to show what I expected of the kids when they reported their findings. I did this to show that we were doing cutting edge data collection and analysis, and not just feeding kids the equations and working problems. Several parents were a bit hesitant about actually playing with the equipment, but I strongly encouraged them to do at least 1 run at each station. When they saw how straightforward it was, they were pretty impressed.
Two more bits of advice: have a few student volunteers help out by showing parents how to do stuff, and provide cookies or some other snacks for the parents.