Nellie Levandovsky

(aka N. Levandovsky)


Galileo High School
1150 Francisco St.
San Francisco, CA 94109
Work: (415) 749-3430

My name is Nellie Levine. I am teaching conceptual physics and AP physics at Galileo High School in San Francisco. Through years I have accumulated substantial teaching experience. I graduated from the St. Petersburg Pedagogical University in 1973 and worked as a physics teacher and physics department chairperson at a technical vocational school (a kind of high school) in St. Petersburg, Russia, for 16 years. While working first as a substitute teacher in SFUSD, then as a physical science and chemistry teacher at G. Washington High School, and, now, as a teacher at Galileo High School, I am slowly adjusting to a new schooling environment and trying to make a positive contribution.

Now, after all these years of being a teacher, I am glad to say that I do not regret choosing this particular profession. First of all, I am a communicative person and therefore like to meet new people. Secondly, being among youngsters makes one feel younger too. Besides, it is always a pleasure to be able to help students overcome their disbelief in the ability to understand and even solve scientific problems.

My greatest concern has always been to improve physics instruction, to make it more interesting, attractive, and easily understandable. With this in mind, I strived to attain three main goals: to make educational process more individualized, to introduce the learning material using different visual aids and experimental equipment, and to develop nontraditional methods of instruction. To make the introduction and recapitulation of new material more effective, I created a useful logical system that includes various graphs, charts, and diagrams. In addition, I compiled special summary tables for all major topics of the physics course. The purpose of such tables is to systematize different physical facts, phenomena, and laws in a convenient visual form.

But a lesson is sometimes too short to answer all the questions students have, and thus to quench their scientific curiosity. That is why I sometimes organized out-of-class activities related to physics. The most interesting form of such work was the "Physics Week" devoted to a certain branch of physics, a particular event, or a scientist. The objective was to make a subject as difficult as physics more interesting and understandable. During those weeks students issued wall newspapers and newsletters with physics content, created visual aids of instruction for use in the classroom, prepared entertaining experiments, took part in excursions to scientific laboratories, and organized physics parties, debates, conferences, and meetings with scientists. The idea was to give every student a chance to express themselves by choosing an activity that best suits their interest and abilities.

Ever since I became a teacher, I was interested in how physics was taught in other countries. I wanted to learn about science curricula, textbooks, experimental equipment, and teaching methods used by teachers abroad. That was why I chose "Tendencies of Physics Education in Modern Japanese Schools" as the theme for my doctoral thesis. I learned a lot while working on my dissertation . The main thing I realized was that the schooling systems differed greatly in different countries, depending on what national and historical peculiarities they had, what the level of their economic development was, and what role and objective the physics education had in the schooling system as a whole. But, on the other hand, I learned that physics instruction had so many tendencies and problems that are common to all countries. This is why I strongly believe in comparative education which allows effective teaching methods and techniques used in other countries to be borrowed and successfully used in Americans schools.

This year I was lucky enough to be chosen to participate in the "Partners in Science" program. I understand that the main goal of this summer project is not only to give teachers the opportunity to work side by side with real scientists, but also to allow the teachers to incorporate the information thus obtained into their science curricula. I am very excited about this new experience , and I look forward to working with my mentor, Dr. Isabel Hawkins, on the development of new astrophysics course for high school students. I hope that new teaching strategies and nontraditional means of instruction that will be created this summer will help me, and maybe some other teachers to acquaint students with modern methods of scientific research in astronomy and to instill in them a strong cognitive interest in science.

If you would like to return to the homepage of Nellie's Unit, click here.

Also of interest: my outline for a complete
"Astrophysics" Course

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