This course will become read-only in the near future. Tell us at if that is a problem.

Last Homework - Plan to use PHET in your class


Pick one of these homeworks and share your thoughts about their usefulness for you integrating PhET


1.       Check PhET UTube videos with  at

2.       Pick a sim you might use in class. Read  one or more of these handouts and share how they might help you with your writing: 

a)       Activity Design 

b)       Examples for writing Learning Goals 

c)       Bloom’s Revised 

3.       Pick a sim you have interest in using which has activities listed on the sim page. Compare at least one Gold Star activity to one which is not. Share your ideas, but please do not refer to the sim or the activities in particular. We want teachers to feel free to share their activities and invite positive criticism through the comments. 

Task Discussion

  • Kathleen Miller   July 28, 2012, 9:24 p.m.

    We have been encouraged to use Blooms revised taxonomy in designing lesson plan activites, writing assignments and assessment questions, so I am glad the PhET guidelines align so well with this. We also use Webb's Depth of Knowledge organizer. Both of these resources really highlight the hierarchy of learning that goes from recall to understanding to application and beyond. The document that goes with Bloom's revised taxonomy will be very helpful in crafting better higher order thinking questions for students this year.

    I have revised my student worksheet for the Waves on a String sim, and will send it in for evaluation and future sharing if you like it. I am pretty satisfied with it right now, but just as Mary pointed out, I am sure future revisions will make it even better.

  • Ms Courtney   July 22, 2012, 2:48 p.m.

    I chose a chemistry sim that I wouljd likely use in my class this year, and compared a gold star and a non-gold star activity.  First I want to say that the non-gold star activity looks very much like an activity I woujld develop if I just sat down to do it without engaging in this course.  I have always felt my students needd a good bit of direction in using something like this and my activity would be the guidance that leads them to the knowledge I wanted them to gain.  That being said, I tried out the two activities with the sim myself as if I were a student.  Oh my ......  The non-gold star activity keeps me very busy, trying hard to find the "right" answer off the screen and certainly keeps me focused on a very sepcific task.  But I find that I am not developing any kind of my own understanding of the concept being addressed.  So I went on to the gold star activity ......

    This was a much shorter (on paper) activity without much direction.  I could envision my students being highly stressed when first introduced to an activity like this.  They are so used to being spoon fed (and we tend to play along with the spoon feeding, thinking this is what they need) that I think they will be very uncomfortable working with this much latitude.  I think in the end, the students will actually understand the concept better this way, provided they do not simply give up and not complete the activity out of frustration.

    This exercise has helped me see a couple of things:

    1) Following the Inquiry Guidelines as I develop activities will be important to keep me from being cookbook.

    2) Look for Gold Star Activities already available on the site!

    3) Build in some time at the beginning of the year to scaffold students' use of the sims to help them over the hump of this very different way of learning.  Expect some frustration and pre-plan for how to deal with it so students learn to work through rather than quit.

    4) Always be willing to revise and redo as needed to develop deep understanding!


  • Trish Loeblein   July 22, 2012, 4:19 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Ms Courtney   July 22, 2012, 2:48 p.m.



    Your reflections are really helpful as I think about how to help teachers.

     You commented that the particular gold star activity you used might frustrate students and that you will need to prepare them for their frustration - wonderful insight! There are a couple of things that I do to help with this. We do spend quite a bit of time in my class discussing how to learn and what that might feel like. We discuss that when you try a new exercise, you can feel the soreness in your muscles and sometimes frustration. My students discuss how frustration and learning feel  physically and emotionally. Since my class is mostly for students who will continue their education in some form - college, military, or in a work environment, they can be moved easily to a place of comfort with the stresses because they can see how quickly they will be able to use the ability to learn and also work well with stress. I included an image of a handout we use for talking points. Also, I scaffold the activities so that early in the school year, the sims which I assign enable easy investigation. Additionally, I allow more time for the activities during class where the students can support one another and I am very accessible. After the first open activity, I provide clicker questions (or a post-test) to allow for free discussion about the learning and encourage students to share their feelings. I also am available in the computer lab outside of class for small group help. Some students adapt to the strategies more quickly than others and the number of frustrated ones diminishes. My goal is by October to have almost all students feeling successful with guided inquiry. I do have to actively engage students and make sure they feel like if they get stuck, I will nudge them in the right direction. If you want this handout, send me an email and I wlll send you the pdf.



  • Ms Courtney   July 22, 2012, 5:39 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Trish Loeblein   July 22, 2012, 4:19 p.m.
    Please do send me the handout -- that would be helpful. Mary E. Courtney Early College International High School
  • Ms Courtney   July 22, 2012, 1:39 p.m.

    I watched a couple of the introductory YouTube videos.  While I feel these are helpful on a high level for getting me thinking about incorporating PhET sims into my chemistry instruction, I want to dig deeper than that at this point.  I will use one of the assignments where I look specifically at a sim in my area in order to process at a deeper level.


  • dylaX   July 22, 2012, 5:29 a.m.

    I am very fond of Bloom's Taxonomy even if I know there are more ones. It is the first one I learn as a teacher and it helps me to make questions at different level of learning. I appreciate the revised Bloom's taxonomy and will use it next school year in my planning even if in Italy taxonomy is not so crucial  today as twenty years ago when all my tutors insisted on taxonomy and a lot of educational books invited teachers to use imperatively taxonomy.

  • dylaX   July 22, 2012, 5:10 a.m.

    I deeply agree with all of you from Boulder University with the sentence " it's important to make them freely available to the world." It is the reason I am here in this course and it is the reason my students like to use PhET simulations and make practice of English, too.

  • dylaX   July 22, 2012, 5:04 a.m.

    I have checked some youtube videos like the many uses of PhET.  I find this video vey usefull to suggest some uses of PhET I have never done in my classroom. For example, next school year I will use PhET simulation on motion with my GO! Motion probe. It is very funny to use GO!Motion alone and I think it wil be much more funny to use it with PhET.