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Week Three Thoughts

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Week Three Thoughts

This last week contained a lot of open-ended dialogue. The concept of eliminating a single conductor in the classroom and replacing this with the idea of a classroom facilitator who initiates discussion amongst all individuals was also especially highlighted this week.

Greg Davis’s presentation on Monday allowed many of the teachers to tap into the subject of biology even if biology was not their forte. Greg intertwined the concept of patterns into his lesson which automatically attracted the attention of many of the students. He continually asked for feedbacks and suggestions on how he could somehow alter his lesson in the future. Many of the teachers definitely seemed to appreciate this because they felt as though their opinions were important. Some of the wording (in particular necessity and sufficiency) did cause a bit of unrest in the classroom it was actually beneficial to the conversation as it provoked even greater conversation!

Tuesday’s discussion by Paul B. at first held a lot of negative connotations for some of the teachers. However, he soon placated any of their worries. I thought it was very effective to begin his lesson with asking the class their thoughts on chemistry. By doing so he was able to obtain an overall feel for how the class’s opinions on chemistry. Not only did he explain the concepts in an effective manner, but he also supplied his class with copies of all of the slides he presented as well as a copy of all of the vocabulary words that were presented. The topic of his presentation, “Using Stories to Consolidate Learning of Complex Topics” was also encouraging. The idea that seemed to resonate with the majority of the teachers was the concept of creating their own story. This allowed a tremendous amount of creativity and freedom to be distributed throughout the room and many of the teachers seemed to love it! In addition, the Google document that he sent out allowed for immediate feedback without singling any of the teachers out for not understanding a concept. The only aspect of his presentation that could have been altered is the topic of his lesson. Perhaps he could have offered a topic that was more accessible for all of the teachers? For example, rather than electron shielding maybe he could have offered a lesson about the properties of elements?

Rebecca VanDiver’s presentation also allowed for some hefty realizations about learning. First, why do some students shut down when they hear a particular word? Is there a way that we can teach mathematics and sciences while presenting them with words that are much less intimidating? (Similar to what Paul B. did). Keith seemed to resonate with this idea the most as he often does this with new vocabulary words which brought about the larger discussion of whether or not we should always teach science and math by referring it to a different name that carries a more welcoming connotation. Rebecca also introduced the topic of modeling which we stressed a lot during our own discussions prior to beginning the institute. I think this allowed members of the institute to actually see what the goal of Rebecca’s presentation. One of the things that I think could have been changed is maybe the invasiveness of the lesson. For example, I think the lesson should have stopped at the graphing and not have gone into finding the derivative. This step seemed to confuse many of the teachers and they did not feel comfortable with the topic.                                                                                                                          

The next two days I think were some of the most interesting of the institute. Not only did they allow the teachers to present information to their peers that they felt was important, but it also shifted the role of the “conductor”, yet again, from one person to all of the teachers. Each of the topics were very unique, yet all of the teachers seemed to be really engaged in the lessons and the discussions that arose were extremely rich. I would definitely suggest allowing teachers to present in the future as the teachers had their own time to teach others something that they were passionate about.

Overall, I think the curriculum of the last week was extremely effective. It was sad to see the teachers leave!