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Curriculum Proposal

Kathy Swahn's picture

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Kathy Swahn - Curriculum proposal for grant monies for Brain and Behavior Institute 2009


During the Summer 2009 Brain and Behavior Institute I found the idea of being less wrong highly engaging and motivating. During my teaching processes each year I spend quite a bit of time teaching students to trust their lab partners’ view points and opinions as well as their own. Each student brings to the table specific skills and observations gained from specific life experiences. I feel shared learning is an extremely important teaching tool for collaboration, innovation, and it allows students to add many small parts in order to create more complex answers.


As I have progressed through the Brain and Behavior workshop I have found some terrific supportive materials to aid me in allowing students to consider peer interaction as being a valuable part of learning. I found the ambiguous figures section [/exchange/ambigfig] a very valuable learning/teaching tool. I found that I began to create my own PowerPoint with many of the images displayed, as well as some I found surfing the web. I started to think about more ways to include what I have learned here at the institute into the Physical and Earth Sciences class that I teach regularly. I realized that the light and sound section of my curriculum could be enhanced with the idea that each person sees the world differently. A list of ideas and goals follow:


Goal #1- Begin the school year in the Light and Sound section of Physical Science. After a brief introduction into light and vision, I will use optical illusions as a spring board into how vision works, how the brain connects, and how and why we do not all view the same thing in the same way. This provides a nice segue to discussing and sharing ideas, work, and labs. An example can include Hofstadter’s Road Sign [/exchange/hofstadter/applet].  After showing students the road sign, I would ask students which direction are the dots moving.  I expect to obtain various answers – no one is incorrect! That is the exact point that I desire to make clear. Moving from that idea, I will remind students that they will be sharing answers, ideas and work throughout the year and that this is the place where collaboration and innovation gives way to more diverse complex answers.

**I usually spend three to four weeks teaching a section during the shared labs and lessons associated with light and sound.  I can continue to reinforce the lesson taught on the first week throughout the following weeks.


Goal #2 continued reinforcement– Begin each class that has shared learning with an optical illusion warm up. Remind students that while we each have differing views, we each have something to offer and that from many smaller parts more complex answers are derived.


Planned Carolina Science Supply List For Brain and Behavior Institute 2009:

Item number:




Water prism



Spectrum analysis chart



Intro to Light and Optics



Light and Color Tutorial Kit



Rainbow Glasses 6 pack

3@ $7.35


Investigating Light poster



Investigating Sound poster


                                                                                                                Total Cost         $282.70

                                                                                                                Tax                                6%