I started my teaching career in 2007, after having left my position as a Ph.D. chemist in a chemical company to raise my child. To prepare myself for the career change, I went through a graduate-level teacher certification program. There, I was introduced to constructivism and became a strong believer in the student-centered pedagogy it embodies. In addition, I had the fortune of attending a Modeling Physics workshop the summer before I started my first teaching assignment. I discovered that Modeling provided the practical classroom mechanisms to match my constructivist teaching philosophy. For the following two summers, I excitedly immersed myself in Modeling Chemistry I and II workshops, and was able to fully implement the curriculum in my own teaching. I then continued on to co-lead a ModChem workshop in 2010, and found that being able to share my passion for this powerful way of teaching with participating teachers gave me a great sense of fulfillment. This led me to join a group of physics teachers who founded PhysicsTeacherNYC in 2011, an organization with the sole purpose of organizing weekend and summer workshops in which teachers could learn the best practices from each other. I spearheaded the addition of chemistry workshops the following year and co-lead ModChem summer workshops in 2013 and 2014. The name has since changed to STEMteachersNYC to reflect the incorporation of multiple disciplines, and the organization has grown tremendously in the four years since its founding. The personal learning and professional growth I gained as a workshop leader and as a board member have prepared and inspired me to contribute more to the Modeling community. With your support, I hope to have the opportunity to contribute my efforts into supporting and promoting Modeling instruction in the larger teaching and learning communities as a member-at-large for AMTA.
I was first exposed to Modeling Instruction when I took a Modeling Physics workshop in Arizona. Not only did physics make sense to me for the first time, but I was excited to see an educational curriculum that matched up to my experiences in science research. I started planning how to apply Modeling Instruction to biology. With my colleagues at Shady Side Academy, I developed the beta version of Biology Modeling Instruction for a physics first sequence. Over the next seven years, I taught Modeling Physics and Modeling Biology, and I began analyzing data on the effect of Modeling Instruction on student learning. However, I became frustrated with my lack of knowledge on how to continue this research, which I see as fundamental to helping get funding and support for the spread of Modeling Instruction. Therefore, I left teaching to become a graduate student in order to research the effects of model-based instruction on student learning. I have led workshops in Biology Modeling Instruction in multiple states. Currently, I am working to help redesign the Biology Modeling Instruction curriculum with a group of teachers and researchers in Ohio. I bring my experience as a science researcher, a science education researcher, a teacher, and a workshop leader to this position. These multiple perspectives will help me communicate with different people in the Modeling community. They will also help me advocate and support Modeling Instruction in a variety of ways. I am excited for the opportunity to give back to the Modeling Instruction community
After earning a B.S. in comprehensive chemistry and working as an environmental inorganic analytical chemist for a few years, I switched careers and taught physics and chemistry at various levels in West Virginia and Virginia. I have been teaching for 17 years and just recently discovered the eye-opening approach of modeling in my chemistry classroom. After my introductory training last summer I returned to my district with a renewed passion and I was successful at beginning a pilot program for my school to begin the transformation of our classrooms and fundamental understandings of how to present the chemistry curriculum for the betterment of our students. This is my first year switching my classrooms to modeling.
One of my personal goals, after the training, was to join the “Modeling” conversation at the school, district, and the national levels. I would like to become a member of the AMTA board to be involved in the process of bringing this teaching philosophy/pedagogy to my colleagues in VA and in the United States so that new and veteran teachers alike can experience the renewal and hope that took me 17 years to rediscover. Students truly benefit from modeling instruction. Students in my classes are excited about modeling instruction. I feel that I need to help other teachers to share the same excitement and to see the same benefits that I have seen for my students.
Alan L. Vancil
Alan is a Chemistry teacher at Rose Hill High School in Rose Hill Kansas. He is completing his 25th year in education and his 16th year at Rose Hill. Throughout his career Alan has taught high school Physical Science, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Algebra. Alan has been an adjunct Chemistry instructor for Butler Community College and a high school Assistant Principle.
Alan received his Bachelor’s degree from McPherson College in McPherson Kansas in 1980. After working in the private sector for a number of years Alan returned to McPherson College completing his teacher certification in 1989. In 1996 Alan earned a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from Wichita State University.
In June of 2007 Alan completed a Chemistry Modeling workshop in North Kansas City lead by Earl Legleiter. In July of the same summer Alan attended a Physics Modeling workshop at Emporia State University also lead by Mr. Legleiter. Alan has been using the Modeling instructional approach since the fall of 2007 beginning with his Chemistry classes. Alan has also taught Physical Science and Physics using the Modeling curriculum and methodology.
Since the summer of 2009 Alan has been leading Modeling Chemistry workshops in the State of Kansas. He has lead three summer workshops at Emporia State University and more recently lead two workshops in Chemistry Modeling for the Wichita Public School in Wichita Kansas. Alan attended the Summer Modeling Retreat at Camp Tontozona in June 2014 and helped the AMTA write middle school Modeling curriculum in July of that same summer.
From 1998-2008 I taught adults in Dallas, TX fundamental financial concepts taught adults in Dallas, TX fundamental financial concepts with mentoring from leaders who transformed a $1 trillion industry for the benefit of millions of families.
In 2009 I traveled to China where I taught several thousand Chinese public school English teachers in Beijing China with a team of educators to improve their own oral English, and experience and adopt more student-centered, active-engagement teaching.
I returned to Dallas in 2010 where I spent 3 years teaching algebra-based physics to juniors and seniors in a low-income, low-performing public school in Dallas ISD as a Teach for America 2010 Corps member.
In 2013 my family and I moved to Harlem NY. I wrote curriculum for and taught their first “conceptual physics first” course to freshmen at Harlem Village Academy High, a public charter school. There I participated in biweekly science coaching with a local physics Modeler.
In 2014 I returned to Dallas and am currently teaching the Project Lead the Way Principles of Engineering course to sophomores and juniors at Dallas ISD’s Woodrow Wilson HS Academy of Engineering where I am integrating Modeling pedagogy into the curriculum.
I was introduced to Modeling early during my initial years teaching physics as I wrestled with “old-school” science pedagogy. Thanks to my oldest daughter’s experience with a high school Modeling physics course during my initial years teaching physics, and the online Modelers community and resources, I felt compelled to attend the 2012 Mechanics and 2013 E&M Modeling workshops in NYC.
If elected to the AMTA board, I pledge to bring my professional experience, passion for Modeling, and a set of perspectives aimed at helping multiply the adoption of Modeling Instruction in classrooms across the country and the world. I specifically hope to help create and launch an effort to combine creative social media with the stories of the Modeling communities teachers, students, and others.