Physics and Mathematics Foundational Understandings

Because I desire to teach high school physics, it would make sense that I have a physics or other hard science (various engineering disciplines, etc.) background. During my pursuit in my Bachelor's of Science at the College of William and Mary, I have taken almost every physics course offered to undergraduate students. Also, because physics and mathematics are very closely intertwined, I have taken many mathematics courses during my undergraduate career.

In addition to the coursework, I have worked in physics laboratories during the school year and in the summers throughout my undergraduate career (see my resume for specific dates and places). From these experiences, I have gained many concrete examples of the application of the theories that were covered in the classes. All of these experiences combined have helped to me to have a deep understanding of physics, and I have shown this by passing the physics Praxis II test at Virginia standards. I have also taken, passed at Virginia standards, and received an ETS Recognition of Excellence Award for the mathematics Praxis II.

Teaching Foundational Understandings

Through William and Mary's education program, I have been exposed to the National Science Education Standards. These are published by the National Science Teachers Association, and "the Standards deal concurrently with six aspects of science education:
  • Standards for science teaching (Chapter 3).
  • Standards for professional development for teachers of science (Chapter 4).
  • Standards for assessment in science education (Chapter 5).
  • Standards for science content (Chapter 6).
  • Standards for science education programs (Chapter 7).
  • Standards for science education systems (Chapter 8)."

In the lesson plans that I have written, I include references to both the national and state standards to which the lesson applies. By including the both sets of standards, I am reminding myself to meet the standards and providing information regarding the basis of my teaching to administrators, colleagues, families, and the community at large.

In addition to the Standards, I have learned to utilize the Science Curriculum Topic Study (CTS). This book comes from an National Science Foundation-funded project that seeks to "help K-12 educators deepen their understanding of the important science and mathematics topics they teach. CTS builds a bridge between state and national standards, research on students' ideas in science, and opportunities for students to learn science and mathematics through improved teacher practices." Again, this helps with planning and execution of lessons so that I understand the students' misconceptions and have methods to create novel and meaningful learning situations for the students. The following document is an example of a completed CTS: Belcher_CTS on Visible Light, Color, and Vision 28 September 2009.pdf.