The Physics Teacher Education Coalition Digital Library (PTEC DL):
A Physics Teacher Education and Professional Development Resource Collection
18July2006, macisaac

1: Opportunities for Physics Teachers
Events: Research Experiences for Teachers (RETs), Fellowships, Scholarships, Awards, Loan Forgiveness, Conferences, Workshops
Communities: Professional Organizations, Local Physics Alliances, Journals, Listservs
Programs: Degree and Certification Programs, Online Courses, CEUs

2: Research on Physics Teacher Preparation and Professional Development (R-PTED)
PTED Journals: JPTEO, TPT,
PTED Books: Handbook of Science Teacher Preparation
Physics Education Research:

3: Teaching Physics (Pedagogical Content Knowledge or PCK) for Physics Teachers -- How to teach a particular topic in physics
Teaching Topic X:
Touchstone Activities by Physics Topic:

4: Physics (Content Knowledge) for Physics Teachers -- Physics Knowledge for Teachers of Physics
by Physics Topic:
General introductory physics references for teachers: Online, Books, Journals

The Mechanical Universe

5: Teaching and Physics Teacher Preparation -- Pedagogical Teacher resources, often generalized beyond physics as a discipline
Certification and Licenture:
Pedagogical Foundations:
Pedagogical Theory:
Classroom Management:
Classroom and Action Research:

6: General Resources for Physics Teacher Preparation and Professional Development

Websites, Lesson Plans, Syllabi, Curricula, Books/Articles, Listservs,

7: About this Webpage
Sponsors, Contacts, Contributing, Support, Inspiration

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1: Opportunities for Physics Teachers
Events: Research Experiences for Teachers (RETs), Fellowships, Scholarships, Awards, Loan Forgiveness, Conferences, Workshops

Research Experiences for Teachers (RETs) <RET search URL> – Many science research funding organizations such as the US National Science Foundation (NSF) and NASA fund research that includes public outreach opportunities through teachers called RETs. Typically RETs run for several weeks in the summer and require a teacher travel to a university or national laboratory to join a research team, and finally prepare lesson plans, activities, presentations or reports describing the scientific research products and significance at a level appropriate for grade school students. RETs usually pay a stipend ($1000/week is a typical figure), travel, room and board. Similar programs exist for undergraduate science students and science teaching students called Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs). Search PTEC database for RETs. <URL HERE TO Search PTEC database for REUs.>

Fellowships, Scholarships, Awards <Funds search URL> - are all funding mechanisms providing support for teacher candidates. Fellowships and scholarships usually require no repayment but have specific application criteria and may be accompanied by performance expectations. Awards are usually provided to applicants upon recognition of some merit and may require nomination by mentors, colleagues or peers. Search PTEC database for fellowships, scholarships, awards, or load forgiveness.

Loan Forgiveness <Funds search URL> - US federal student loans made for programs of study to specifically prepare physics and other STEM (Science Technology, Engineering or Math) teachers may be forgiven (not repayed) for some limited amounts for some teachers teaching in eligible schools. Currently Perkins and Stafford US federal student loans made to individuals enrolled in programs leading to STEM teacher certification may be eligible for up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness over five years if the borrower is a full time STEM teacher in a federally identified “High Needs” K-12 school. An online database of “High Needs” schools is maintained by the US Department of Education at <>. Stafford / Perkins federal student loan forgiveness details for the US D of Ed: <>.

Conferences <PTEC calendar URL> -- most professional physics, science and math teachers organizations host national and regional meetings yearly. Several of these conferences include professional development sessions and workshops for physics teachers, some of which may be accredited via CEUs (Continuing Education Units) or College Credit. Sometimes itinerant conferences (such as Gordon Conferences) address physics teacher preparation. A maintained list of national and regional conferences of interest to physics teachers and folk preparing physics teachers will be made available from the PTEC events calendar. We particularly recommend the conferences of PTEC, the AAPT and NSTA.

Workshops and Courses <Workshop and Course search URL> -- many professional organizations, national laboratories, colleges and universities conduct workshops and courses for physics teachers. A few examples: The AAPT conducts 1-2 day workshops at their National meetings in Jan and late summer. Arizona State University (ASU) and SUNY- Buffalo State College (BSC) (amongst others) conduct 2-4 week residential on campus Summer Physics Teachers’ Academies which are eligible for college credit and which may or may not provide stipend support, housing or tuition scholarships. Many colleges provide evening graduate physics course opportunities for working physics teachers, including ASU and BSC. Other institutions (notably the University of Virginia and Montana State University at Bozeman) provide online graduate courses for physics teachers. PTEC maintains a list workshops and courses of interest to physics teachers here.

Programs: Degree and Certification Programs, Online Courses, CEUs

Programs and Courses <Programs and courses search URL> -- Most US college and universities offer teacher preparation programs that are accredited by state departments of education for teacher certification. Most states also provide direct certification routes and a collection of links to all state teacher certification agencies in the US is maintained by the US Department of Education. Also, the Council of Chief State School Officers maintains a list of state certification requirements and contacts at <>.

Planning a Career in Science Education <> -- advice and links mainly addressed to pre-service science teachers.

Communities: Professional Organizations, Local Physics Alliances, Journals, Listservs

Professional Organizations:
The American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) <> - the pre-eminent professional physics teacher organization worldwide, about 11K members; meets twice yearly in national meetings, sponsors professional development for physics teachers and faculty, publishes resources and policy regarding physics teaching, underwrites this website. The AAPT is regionally organized into state sections, which meet usually semesterly in a state or region of states.
The American Physical Society (APS) <> - the pre-eminent professional physicist's organization worldwide, has significant teacher outreach and policy, active forum on education, sponsors professional development for physics teachers and faculty, underwrites this website. The APS is also regionally organized into state sections, many of which meet regularly or itinerantly with the AAPT state sections.
The National Science Teachers' Association (NSTA) <http://www> - pre-eminent US professional science teacher's, sponsors, publishes and lobbies for significant policy in US for all science teaching subject areas, one national and four regional meetings annually, sponsors professional development for physics teachers and faculty

Local Physics Alliances (LPAs):
Local groups of physics teachers who meet usually once monthly on a Sat am for introductory physics-centered teaching activities, professional development etc, usually hosted by a college or university physics dept, often with activities recognized towards professional teacher licensure, and often loosely affiliated with state sections of the AAPT. The physical community of physics teachers most often attended by working teachers. A US nationwide list of local physics alliances is maintained by John Russell of UMass Dartmouth. The ASU Modeling group have discussed national support / planning for LPAs.

Journal of Physics Teacher Education Online (JPTEO) <> - published (electronic only) itinerantly, dedicated to investigating and documenting significant issues and challenges in physics teacher preparation. Dedicated to the scholarhsip of physics teacher preparation. Freely available.
The Physics Teacher (TPT)
<> - published nine times yearly by AAPT, the pre-eminent journal for teaching introductory (middle school, high school and lower division college/university) physics combining peer-reviewed articles, unreviewed columns, editorials and announcements. Not a research journal. Available and searchable online, highly readable and highly recommended; this is the usual first journal for physics teachers.
The American Journal of Physics (AJP) <> - published monthly by AAPT, devoted to instructional and cultural aspects of physical science, usually moves beyond introductory physics into upper division undergraduate and graduate level material. Mainly serious peer-reviewed articles, editorials and letters, available and searchable online. Includes a serious research section devoted to Physics Education Research.
Physics Education <> - published six times / year by UK Institute of Physics (IoP), and dedicated to students learning introductory physics aged 11 and up. Euro-centric with worldwide contributions. Very readable.
Physics Today (PT)
<> - published monthly by The American Institute of Physics (AIP - an umbrella organization ot which AAPT and APS belong, and contracting publication services to IoP). Pre-eminent monthly physics magazine in the world. Free to members of AAPT, APS and other physicst associations belonging to AIP.
Physical Review Special Topics: Physics Education Research (PRST:PER) <>. An itinerantly published (electronic only) APS journal dedicated to Physics Education Research. Freely available at present.


Electronic asynchronous communities dedicated to physics instruction, see TPT article MacIsaac (2000) Electronic Communities for Physics Teachers. Better-known lists include PHYS-L (physics teaching culture), PhysShare (HS physics teaching), TAP-L (labs and eqpt for teaching physics), PhysLrnr (Physics Education Researchers' list), modeling-l (ASU/Hestenes modeling physics curriculum) and many other regional / statewide or topical lists.

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2: Research on Physics Teacher Preparation and Professional Development (R-PTED)
PTED Journals: JPTEO, TPT,
PTED Books: Handbook of Science Teacher Preparation

Handbook of Research on Curriculum by American Educational Research Foundation. Pre-eminent authoritative review of k-12 curriculum research literature. Expensive and irreplacable for curricular doctoral candidates and researchers.

Ch 12: Scientific literacy and Ch 13: Critical thinking from Teaching introductory physics by Arons.

Physics Education Research (PER) on or closely related to teacher preparation:

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3: Teaching Physics (Pedagogical Content Knowledge or PCK) for Physics Teachers -- How to teach a particular topic in physics
Encyclopaedic References:

Teaching introductory physics by Arons. The standard reference work for teaching introductory physics arranged by topic, by an originating figure in physics education. Chapters on underp[innings, retilinear kinematics, elementary dynamics, motion in two dimensions, momentum and energy, static electrocity, current electricity, electromagnetism, waves and light, early modern physics, miscellaneous topics, scientific literacy and critical thinking. Bound together with a second book of conceptual problems, and a third book presenting physics by conservation laws. Many references to pre-1996 physics education research.

Teaching Activities by Physics Topic:

Teaching Light and Color collected by AAPT. Collection of papers, articles, a resource letter and excerpts dedicated to teaching introductory optics.

Technology unique to physics:

Methodologies unique to physics or with physics exemplars:

Just-In-Time-Teaching by Novak, Gavrin, Christian and Patterson. Describes use of classroom activities promoting Active Learning combined with Web resources for pedagogy and engagement, particularly using the web to collect pre-class assignments to adjust classroom activities on a daily basis. The book context is introductory university physics.

Peer Instruction

Peer Instruction by Mazur.

Peer instruction problems: Introduction to the method by Redish (article).

Clickers in the classroom by



White Boarding and Discourse

Talking science: Language, learning and values by Lemke. Book upon discourse management and analysis for classroom science teaching.

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4: Physics (Content Knowledge) for Physics Teachers -- Physics Knowledge for Teachers of Physics
by Physics Topic:
General introductory physics references for teachers:


The Mechanical Universe and Beyond by CPB/Annenberg. Series of 52 half hour videos internet streamed on demand for no charge (registration required) presenting 52 'lectures' on content from a two semester freshman University (calculus-based) Physics course. Rich animations and visualizations, much historical detail. Very worthwhile review material for teachers before teaching any of the topics covered or for preparing for state physics licensure exams. <>. Associated textoobks and primers were produced but are out of print.

Readable Physics Content Reference Books for Teachers

Cartoon physics by Gonick. Fun readable graphic novel historical approach to physics. Very engaging and readable, nice review of overview of the field for preparing for history and significance of physics type teacher examination questions. Nice supplementary reading for middle school - adult students . See also Gonic's cartoon histories of chemistry, statistics, history of the unverse 1 etc.

Clouds in a Glass of Beer by Bowen. Fun, readable romp through atmospheric physics with practical experiments and observations, well-illustrated. Dover (inexpensive) publication.

Concepts of Space: The History of Theories of Space in Physics by Jammer. Historical reference review of models of space, forward by Einstein. Dover publication (inexpensive). Also by same author:
Concepts of Mass in Classical and Modern Science by Jammer. Includes Einsteinian mass, QM and field theory.
Concepts of Force by Jammer. Includes post-Newtonian thought.

Feynman Lectures on Physics Volumes I II & III by Feynman. Encyclopaedic and nonstandard interpretive review of calculus-based introductory physics. Excellent for topical reference or for advanced reading.


see Journals in section 1: Opportunities. Also

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5: Teaching and Teacher Preparation -- Pedagogical Teacher resources, often science education and education generalized beyond physics as a discipline
Certification and Licenture:

There are many routes to physics teacher certification, and a few standard paths are briefly described here, together with programs we feel are notable, particularly those associated with the Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PTEC). The best-known route to physics teacher certification is via a physics teaching bachelors’ degree (a 4-5 year undergraduate degree) in physics education or physics accompanied by teacher certification. Usually a major or minor in physics is accompanied with science or physics teaching methods courses and a student teaching experience, culminating in some initial teacher certification. Initial employment is accompanied with a new teacher mentoring experience, and an expectation for continued professional development. Another route is via a non-degree certificate only (post-baccalaureate) program run by a college or university, this requires a bachelor’s degree (major or minor in physics), and includes education and science teaching methods courses and student teaching. A newer route known as alternative certification usually eliminates student teaching and provides a special teacher certification requiring additional supervision and the completion of courses while working. Several states will certify individuals directly based upon individual transcript review of their college and university transcripts, and most states have provisions allowing temporary, instantaneous teacher certification (emergency certification) upon request of a principal or superintendent. Many physics teacher certification candidates already hold teacher certification in another area, and sme specialty cross-certification programs exist for these.

When looking for a physics teacher preparation or professional development program and courses, there are a number of issues to consider: Is the program run by a physics department? Is the program nationally accredited (by NCATE or TEAC)? Does the program include early field experiences? Do courses include significant input from master physics teachers or teachers in residence? Are faculty themselves certified teachers? Are courses offered online, evenings or summers -- must candidates be full-time or part-time students, and can candidates hold regular, full-time employment? Does the program meet INTASC standards allowing your physics teacher certification to be recognized by other states? Does the program meet NSTA and AAPT guidelines?

Pedagogical Foundations; Teaching and Learning Theory:

Mind in Society: The development of higher psychological processes by Vygotsky. Highly readable collection of writings on child development and learning with educational implications by originator of social constructivism.

Classroom Management:



Science Educator's Guide to Assessment by Doran. Book describes assessment and assessment design for science teachers in clear language with adaptable examples.

Particular Pedagogical Methodologies:

Classroom and Action Research:

Adult / College Education:

McKeachie's teaching tips: Strategies, research and theory for college and university teachers by McKeachie. Much updated and beloved standard work on general college teaching methods and classroom management for faculty.

They're not dumb, they're different: Stalking the second tier by


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6: General Resources for Physics Teacher Preparation and Professional Development --
Websites, Lesson Plans, Syllabi,

Research-Based Curricula

Minds-On Physics (MOP) by Leonard, Dufresne, Gerace and Mestre of UMass Amherst. A research-based Middle School Physics Curriculum in six volumes (Motion, , with Teacher's Guide and Workbooks.

Understanding Basic Mechanics: Text and Workbook by Reif. Research-based curriculum for introductory calculus-based mechanics instruction.

Workshop Physics Activity Guide (In Modules) by Laws. The original introductory physics workbook teaching without lectures via guided laboratory activities featuring technology. Two semesters of calculus-based physics in 28 units, supported by a website with activity files.

Reference Books / Articles

String and sticky tape experiments by Ron Edge. Oustanding simple inexpensive physics activities.

The Role of Toys in Teaching Physics by McCullough and McCullough. Describes how to use simple toys to teach introductory physics.

The resourceful physics teacher: 600 ideas for creative teaching by Gibbs. Collection of demonstrations, experiments and ideas for middle school through college physics teaching, particularly for new teachers.

, Listservs,

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7: About the PTEC digital Library:
Mission and Audience

The PTEC collection seeks to:
- inform and support physics teacher educators;
- to guide improvements in physics teacher preparation;
- to guide and inform pre-service teachers seeking physics teacher programs; and,
- to guide and inform working physics teachers seeking professional development.

PTEC collection audiences:
- the PTEC coalition
- physics faculty, science faculty and education faculty preparing physics teachers
- physics teachers seeking professional development
- students considering a career in physics teaching
- school teachers seeking cross certification to physics teaching

PTEC collection constituents:
- PTEC documents
- central clearinghouse of topical / contact information associated with physics teacher preparation and professional development (RETs, certification regulations, support, local alliances)
- annotated bibliographies of archival books, websites and other resources
- event based information (map and calendar)
- "Handbook of Physics Teacher Preparation" -like information


The PTEC Digital Library is sponsored and funded by the American Physical Society (APS) and the American Associations of Physics Teachers (AAPT) as part of the comPADRE initialive.


The content editor for the Physics Teacher Education and Professional Development collection section of the PTEC DL is Dr. Dan MacIsaac, Associate Professor of Physics, SUNY - Buffalo State College, 1300 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo NY 14222 <>


We eagerly solicit and welcome submitted suggestions and contributions of URLs, citations, annotations, electronic documents and other electronic artifacts identifying resources of interest for physics teacher preparation and professional development. Please contact the content editor with your suggestions at <>.



This effort has been inspired and informed by the several excellent sites forming comPADRE and by the SERC / DLESE teacher preparation site at Carlton College.

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