My name is Casey Rutherford and I teach physics (and I am licensed in math, last taught in 2011) at Shakopee High School in Shakopee, MN. I currently teach 3 sections of College in the Schools Physics, a University of Minnesota articulated course. This is the same course as U of M Phys 1101, an algebra based introductory physics course similar to the mechanics portion of AP Physics B.  I am also a Technology Integration Specialist, so I work with other teachers to help them effectively use technology to increase learning and engagement. I am also working closely on the design and implementation of regular Physics this year, as we are now running the course under Modeling Instruction with Standards Based Grading, a big, and awesome, change from previous years.

My current interests are Modeling Instruction, Physics First (we are currently debating changing our sequence, please contact me if you have thoughts!), Educational Technology, and Standards Based Grading.

I live in Minneapolis, MN with my wife, an inspiring junior high Spanish teacher, 3 year old son and 5 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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