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Science and a Sense of Place Institute Critique 2007

Ashley Dawkins's picture

The goal of this Institute was “to bring together college faculty and K-12 teachers to discuss current understandings of about teaching hands-on science throughout the curriculum”.

Overall I do believe that this was achieved. This Institute was set up similar to the Brain and Behavior Institute with Serendip Exchange. This allowed the teachers to make comments on the notes for a specific day. Anne really pushed the blog as form of evaluation for both her and Wil. They really wanted to know what was working and what was not. Doing this helped the teachers remember what had been discussed in the Institute as well as amongst themselves. The set up for Science and a Sense of Place was in a way that the quotes of the participants were highlighted. Although they were not asked about their particular quotes I believe they felt comfortable to elaborate and comment if they desired.

We did a wide variety of activities that required that we sit and listen, move around, and discuss. Instead of having one person present everyday there was a variety of people who presented from across the disciplines. It was interesting to see how all the different areas of study could be related back the goal behind Science and a Sense of Place. I also felt the variety of the presentations and the movement made the time fly. A few times I did not notice that we went past our normal lunch starting time. I believe that many of the teachers did not notice either because they continued asking more and more questions.

The one thing that I was pleased to see was the discussions between Anne and Wil. They were really trying to explore what it means to have inquiry education. Because of this they were rather critical of what was going on. It was nice to know that I was not the only one there interested in evaluating. Although I thought their openness about their thought was a good thing, I think at times it may have thrown off the presenters a little. Sometimes opinions were shared during a presentation and I am not sure if it was always relevant, it was almost as though thinking was being done out loud.

The teachers were given a web assignment where they were told to further explore what was being done in the Institute or they could continue what they were researching the Brain and Behavior Institute. In the finally presentations you could see that they were looking at one another were doing on the blogs because there was idea sharing. This was a success and I enjoyed their presentations at the end of Institute.

All in all I believe the teachers learned a lot. They were very willing to look for applications in their classrooms and they took the activities seriously. They put a lot into it and got a lot out of it. I would say that Anne and Wil should continue what they are doing. Keep being skeptical and looking for a better way, it is succeeding so far.


Anne Dalke's picture

Thinking Out Loud

It's been very useful to me and Wil to have a student observer-participant in our classroom, watching and evaluating what's going on (this format is the basis of the really exciting work being done now in the Teaching and Learning Initiative @ Bryn Mawr). I especially appreciate Ashley's noticing our discussions about inquiry education, and I'd be curious to hear/talk more about her contrary views about this. On the one hand, she thought our "openness about our thought was a good thing"; on the other, she had doubts about our "being rather critical of what was going on... it was almost as though thinking was being done out loud." What's the trouble w/ thinking out loud? That it "isn't always relevant"? That it "throws off the presenters a little"?
Judith Lucas-Odom's picture

This Summer's Institute

Anne, I must say that the institute was excellent!  I have already passed a lot of information to my colleagues when we had to go for training on the 6th to the 10th of August.  I think this was the best one ever!   And this is not just a story!  See you later!  I am so happy I still know how to Blog!