Douglas Hutton makes physics come alive at Glastonbury High School. He centers his lessons around real-world experiences, using props such as auto parts and gliders, and explaining “acceleration” with a push cart and a baseball. Hutton employs a variety of instructional methods to engage his students, from group problem sessions, cooperative learning and labs to individual instruction and discovery-based learning.
Whichever method he pursues, Hutton creates a climate in which students can freely take risks and engage in their own learning. In some settings, students become teachers themselves, presenting demonstrations to each other and using critical thinking skills to arrive at the correct conclusions. Instruction does not end when the school bell rings; Hutton’s students can go online to participate in a homework-and-quiz service to better prepare for Advanced Placement (AP) exams.
Hutton’s innovative methods and dedication have paid off. Students consistently perform a full point on the five-point scale above the national average, and nearly a half-point above the state average. While enrollment in math and physics is typically lower nationally for females, there is a high enrollment of young women in Hutton’s classes, a quarter of who received a “5” on the AP exam.
Hutton mentors new physics teachers and student teachers. He is a key member of the school’s appeals committee, the school crisis team, and helped complete a science curriculum review. He is also an advisor to the outdoor and ski clubs. Hutton is an instructor at Manchester Community College and on the adjunct faculty of the University of Connecticut. He was selected among 88 physics teachers across the nation to be a reader for the AP physics exam.
NBC Connecticut | NBC | Oct 20, 2011 | , CT