My name is Casey Rutherford and I teach general physics, AP Physics C, and College in the Schools University of MN Physics 1101W at Shakopee High School in Shakopee, MN. I am also licensed in math, having taught Geometry for 7 years and last taught in 2011. I’ve also taught everything from conceptual physics for required credit to ACT prep.

My current interests are Modeling Instruction, Standards Based Grading, vpython and other computational physics methods, and learning new stuff.

I live in Minneapolis, MN with my wife, an inspiring junior high Spanish teacher, 8 year old son and 10 year old daughter.


4 responses to “About

  1. Hi Casey,
    I’ve enjoyed reading your posts on modeling. I too have been trying this with my 8th graders, but not with great success. I am hoping to attend the modeling workshop for m.s. this summer, but am having trouble with funding. If you don’t mind me asking, did your district/school fund your modeling this summer or did you find another source. Thanks again for your insights!

    • The workshop I am attending this summer is grant supported, so it only costs about $200. Since we are in the science purchasing year, the teaching and learning director picked up the tab. Before knowing that was possible I had submitted the request to our building staff development, and it seemed like they were going to approve it. We have a pretty decent staff development budget.

      Interesting that you are doing this with 8th graders: We are looking at moving to physics first for 9th graders, and I would like to base the class off of modeling if it flies.

  2. Hi Casey,

    I stumbled across your blog and am liking your insights about models. I am from Chicago and have been modeling since 2005. I teach at a Chicago Public School and have been doing Modeling for freshmen for a few years now. The most important argument about teaching physics to freshmen through modeling is the vast improvement in the students’ scientific skills over the course of even one year. The improvements I see are: 1) graphing and data analysis skills are enhanced, 2) through discourse management, they can defend and refute arguments based on evidence and data, 3) they are well-versed in the particle model which our Modeling Chem teachers love, and 4) they are also conversant in talking about energy. The biology teachers really reap the benefits (and we have anecdotal evidence) because they can get in-depth when talking about energy at the molecular levels (e.g. energy stored in electric fields etc.).

    On a different tack, I have heard about Standards Based Grading and I’m interested in how it can be implemented in a physics course. Would love to hear about your work!

    • Thanks for the kind words Johan! I will probably be contacting you in the future about physics first, as we are looking to go that model with our honors track next year and with everyone else a couple years later when we switch to be a 9-12 high school. I am pretty new to Standards Based Grading myself; a colleague is using it for physics this year but I won’t be teaching that course until 2nd semester, though I helped a lot with the layout of semester 1. I would suggest taking a look at a couple other people in the physics SBG world. Kelly O’Shea has a fair amount of stuff, though keep in mind that she works at a private school with many less kids than most so it would be difficult to fully implement her flavor of SBG. Frank Noschese has some really good stuff too, including a new post for the first time SGBer on keeping it simple.

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