Welcome Parents!

Your student is engaging in an exciting year of learning through the study of physics. We will conduct investigations to build our understanding of the way the world works, partake in thoughtful discussions, tackle challenging problems, and design projects using our understanding of physics. I imagine you'll remember physics offered to upperclassmen, but at Bard all 9th graders take physics. This approach, called "Physics First", is relatively new. For those who are not familiar with this approach, there is sometimes a fear that students aren't ready for physics in 9th grade. In fact, there's plenty of research to show that isn't the case. If you'd like to learn more about Physics First, Rex Rice, an incredible physics educator, has a collection of articles here.

There are many different philosophies concerning the best approach for teaching physics. After reviewing much literature on the subject as well as attending a variety of workshops, I've found that Modeling Instruction has shown to produce the most growth in deep understanding of physics as well as important critical-thinking skills that students will need to be successful in college by actively engaging them in the process of model construction. I've taken multiple courses to learn more about how this form of instruction is implemented. If you'd like to learn more about this approach, check out this TED Talk by Frank Noschese:

At times all students will feel frustrated and struggle with the concepts of the course (this is good, it shows that they are thinking!). If you want to support your student at home, here are some general tips that you might find helpful:
  • Ask your student questions about what they are working on and where they are struggling. Try to get them to explain relevant concepts to you in their own words. This will help reinforce concepts they understand as well as help them identify concepts that they don't fully understand yet and need more practice with.
  • Check out the "9th Grade Physics Class Page" to see what your student is learning in class, what was assigned for homework, and announcements for upcoming quizzes or tests.
  • The "Additional Learning Resources" page has lots of resources for your student to use when they are continuing their studies outside of my class. Feel free to peruse them yourself and remind your student that these resources are available for them.
  • I offer extra-help on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays after school (and other times by request). Remind your student that I am available if they find themselves in need of additional support.
  • Colleges look for motivated, well-rounded students. The "Student Opportunities" page has tons of extra-curricular programs that students can take part in during the year that will give them important experiences, develop new skills, and give their resume a boost!

Also, this year I'll be using Jupiter Ed to post grades online. Both students and parents will be able to access the gradebook the first week of each month. Your student will bring home a page with all the necessary login information (including a temporary password) so you can login.

If at any point during the year you have any questions or concerns (or think of anything that you'd like to see posted on this website), please don't hesitate to email me ( I will do my best to get back to you promptly. I'm very much looking forward to working with you and your student this year! -- Mr. Z