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Professional Development

Our Mission

The primary mission of AMTA is to provide quality professional development for teachers of K-12 (as well as post-secondary) STEM courses. Most of this occurs in summer workshops of 2-3 weeks duration that thoroughly treat the pedagogy and content for a middle or high school physics, chemistry, physical science or biology course. Content is organized around a small set of basic models (rather than a lengthy list of topics) to increase its structural coherence. Workshop leaders have attended multiple Modeling Instruction workshops and have considerable experience teaching using this method. Participants are supplied with a complete set of course materials and work through activities alternating in the roles of student or teacher, as they practice techniques of guided inquiry and cooperative learning. At some workshops, teachers receive stipends and/or tuition waivers, instructional materials, and sometimes housing at reduced rates. (State-funded workshops provide these only for in-state teachers.) Generally, workshops use whatever probes and interfaces are available at the site..

Why are Modeling Workshops so long? AMTA strongly recommends workshops that are three weeks in duration because these provide teachers the opportunity to practice the interactive engagement techniques crucial to the successful implementation of Modeling Instruction in the classroom. Two-week workshops can also be effective, provided academic year follow-up support is available. Professional development experiences that are shorter in duration are not considered Modeling Workshops. Such “Modeling Lite” or “Introduction to Modeling” type sessions afford participants the chance to explore aspects of modeling instruction. However, we believe they provide teachers neither sufficient time to develop a deep understanding of the pedagogy nor the opportunity to practice the listening and questioning skills that allow one to successfully implement the approach.

Are you considering hosting a Modeling Workshop? Click here for an outline of host institution responsibilities.

Free 1-year membership in AMTA! Participants in full workshops this summer are eligible for a free 1-year membership in AMTA. Your workshop leader will provide you details on how to enroll. At the end of the year you will have the option of renewing your membership. Follow this link for some details.

Ask your school district to pay for your Modeling Workshop. The document HowGetFinancialHelp from Jane Jackson offers advice on getting financial help from your district or other sources.

Follow this linkto see the list of workshops planned for Summer 2016.

Maiden Voyage of a Kinematics Robot

Matt Greenwolfe, a long-time physics modeler, recently had an article published in The Physics Teacher (April 2015) describing a robotic kinematics apparatus he designed. Students program the robot by drawing kinematic graphs on a computer and then observe its motion. The full article is available on the Publications and Report page under the [Research] tab. Enjoy.