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Remote Ready Biology Learning Activities

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K-16 Collaborations in Science/Math Education Forum

Comments are posted in the order in which they are received, with earlier postings appearing first below on this page. To see the latest postings, click on "Go to last comment" below.

Go to last comment

Name: Paul Grobstein
Date: 2004-08-27 14:36:42
Link to this Comment: 10691

This is a place for posting of information and ideas about, and general discussion of, K-16 collaborations in science and math education in the Philadelphia region. It is hosted by "K-16 Collaborations in Science and Mathematics Education", a joint project of the Center for Science in Society at Bryn Mawr College and the Koshland Integrated Natural Sciences Center at Haverford College, but open to all interested participants. Join in, and let's see what we can all do to improve science/math education for all students.

Name: Paul Grobstein
Date: 2005-07-25 09:33:49
Link to this Comment:

Welcome to the K-16 collaborations forum area, a place we can use for the July 5 minisymposium to get to know one another and share initial thoughts about K-16 collaborations in the Philadelphia area. And a place we can keep using to continue sharing thoughts/ideas/information in the future. Its also a place that people elsewhere might drop in on to see what's going on, so conversations here can have an impact not only locally but elsewhere as well. Join in, and let's see what we can do together about improving science and math education in all contexts, for everyone.

I'm a biologist/neurobiologist/educator/parent (, who thinks most of the really important human problems can be addressed only by creating richer and more effective educational environments and that building new bridges between educators at all levels is critical to that. A few links to some relevant things I'm involved with myself:

Looking forward to finding out about other people's interests and concerns, and sharing stories about how to work together to further our common ambitions.

Introducing myself
Name: Ned Wolff
Date: 2005-07-25 13:43:43
Link to this Comment: 15643

I'm Ned Wolff, a math faculty member at Arcadia University. I look forward to participating in the Friday, July 29 meeting. For the past twelve years, I've worked with area high schools and colleges under a number of NSF grants, supporting the implementation of reform mathematics curricula. Currently, I am affiliated with the Math Science Partnership of Greater Philadelphia (MSPGP), which consists of a true partnership of thirteen area colleges and universities and forty six school districts, all working together to strengthen our math and science programs. I'll speak about my MSPGP and related activities on Friday. Suffice it to say here that I'm sure I've learned more from the secondary math and science teachers I've worked with than they'll ever learn from me! If anyone is interested, please feel free to check out my website: To learn more about the MSPGP, go to

See you on Friday.

Name: Alice Lesnick
Date: 2005-07-27 10:39:21
Link to this Comment: 15684


I'm also writing to introduce myself. I'm Alice Lesnick, a faculty member in the Bryn Mawr/Haverford Education Program. My work includes K-12 partnerships in a number of ways, including community-based research, student internships/field placements, and a professional development initiative in which I collaborate with schools on exploring the role of writing in learning. Recently, I have become interested in the use of the Internet to foster cross-contextual dialogue, curriculum construction, and peer review of student writing.

I look forward to the session on Friday.


Name: Jane Horwi
Date: 2005-07-28 08:34:10
Link to this Comment: 15700

Good Morning!

I'm Jane Horwitz, the Associate Director of the Penn Science Teacher Institute. We're just about to start Day 3 of our Administrators' Academy, so I'll keep this brief. The Penn STI is an NSF-funded initiative with a focus on Master's degree programs for middle school science and high school chemistry teachers. Our home is the Chemistry Department in the School of Arts and Sciences, and Penn has institutionally been enormously supportive of this program. Prior to moving into my present position in February, I spent 10 years running the Penn-Merck Collaborative for Science Education, a K-8 initiative of the Grad School of Education. During AY 2003-4, I also had the privilege of being the 7th grade science teacher at the Penn-Alexander School in West Philadelphia.

We have a fabulous K-8 curriculum resource that I would like people to make more use of!

I've been on both sides of the K-12/IHE fence, plus I've been on the fence for some time. A couple of thoughts I have regarding what works in these partnerships:

1) allow lots of time for the relationships to develop and hope for limited staff turn-over.
2) teach courses and workshops collaboratively (i.e., IHE faculty member and classroom teacher)
3) be serious and consistent about listening to and responding to feedback

I also am the parent of two highly motivated female science students (an 8th grader and a college freshman), both of whom attended Friends School Haverford and have benefitted directly from K-12/IHE partnerships.

See you all tomorrow.

resource center
Date: 2005-07-28 08:36:28
Link to this Comment: 15701

Oops. Just reread my posting. That should have said "fabulous K-8 curriculum resource CENTER..."

Name: Eileen Erw
Date: 2005-07-28 09:17:16
Link to this Comment: 15703

My name is Eileen Erwin, and I am currently a master teacher for Project Forward Leap, a summer residential program that serves middle and high school students from urban school districts. During the school year, I teach writing to students in grades K-8 at Gesu School in North Philadelphia. I am also an adjunct professor at St. Joseph's University and Temple University, where I teach courses on literacy. I look forward to the symposium tomorrow because I am very interested in ways K-12 educators can strengthen their ties to higher education and vice versa.

earth/environmental science
Name: Don Barber
Date: 2005-07-28 10:16:42
Link to this Comment: 15705

I'm Don Barber, assistant professor of geology at Bryn Mawr College. I have had little formal involvement with K-16 math/science collaborations, although in principle I'm strongly committed to this kind of outreach/cross-pollination/development.

My teaching covers much of the environmental/global change parts of geology for my dept. You can read more about my teaching and research interests at my geology dept website.

As an undergraduate, I organized and led geology field trips for high school students in Durham, North Carolina. In my view, this activity served as both educational and environmental outreach/activism. In addition to my general committment to improving education, a desire to convey deeper understanding of environmental issues (broadly defined) continues to motivate my outreach efforts at all educational levels.

I don't know whether this educational/environmental goal sometimes creates conflicting cross-purposes. Optimizing my efforts is one of my goals in participating here.

I also generally feel underinformed about the actual conditions and requirements confronting K-12 teachers. I visit and make presentations in my childrens' schools, but so far that has only gotten me up through 3rd grade. So I'm eager to hear more about the needs of K-12 teachers.


welcome and introduction
Name: Ann Dixon
Date: 2005-07-28 10:35:09
Link to this Comment: 15706

I'm Ann Dixon, a computer scientist, a co-founder of Serendip and Serendip's webmaster. I'm interested in enabling educators to teach more effectively using technology tools. I'm the parent of a 14 month old who shows me every day how much fun learning is.

Some of the projects I've worked on which you might find useful are:

Empowering Learners: A Handbook for the Theory and Practice of Extra-Classroom Teaching (with Alice Lesnick, BMC Education)

Hands-on Activities for Teaching Biology to High School or Middle School Students (with Ingrid Waldron, Penn Biology)

Thinking About Segregation and Integration An Interactive Scientific Exploration Using Models (with Paul Grobstein, BMC Biology)

Off the Shelf Chemistry Laboratory Experiments (with Bob Farber, Central High Chemistry)

Ball of Physics
Name: Maeve O'Ha
Date: 2005-07-28 10:39:19
Link to this Comment: 15707

Hello! My name is Maeve O'Hara and I am a student at Bryn Mawr College. I am a math major with a concentration in education. My goal is to get double certified to teach Math and Physics at the high school level. This summer I have been working with Professor Mike Noel on the physics outreach program the Ball of Physics. So far this summer I have developed 21 hands-on demonstrations for elementary school students. We hope to bring these demonstrations into elementary school classrooms starting in the fall! The Ball of Physics also has a stage show that they bring to elementary schools, this is for larger audiences.

I was extremely excited when I learned about the ball of physics. I think bringing excitement into the classroom is a wonderful thing, and this is a fantastic way to do it. It is something different and out of the ordinary for the students as well as extremely educational. I have been working on sets of demonstrations (4-6 demos in each set) that would help teach the students a specific concept, such as symmetry. I am really looking forward to hearing everyone's ideas tomorrow!

Our website is currently under construction, we are putting in pages about the hands-on demos that I have developed this summer. But, if you would like to learn more about the program go to

Name: Alison Coo
Date: 2005-07-28 13:17:02
Link to this Comment: 15718

Hello Everyone,

My name is Alison Cook-Sather, and I am Associate Professor of Education and Director of the Bryn Mawr/Haverford Education Program. For the last ten years, I have worked in collaboration with school-based educators and high school students within the context of two of my courses that are required for state certification to teach at the secondary level. Within these courses, secondary teachers and secondary students work with me as teacher educators to prepare the undergraduates who seek certification through our program. I will describe this collaboration at our July 29 meeting, but for anyone who wants a preview, visit:

I look forward to meeting everyone and to talking about all of the work we do and could with one another.


Name: Teresa
Date: 2005-07-28 15:44:52
Link to this Comment: 15719

I am a teacher at Overbrook Elementary School. My classroom is a mixed age classroom of 3-5 year olds run under the Montessori model of education. Collaboration with colleagues, in all aspects of the education society, are important to my success in educating the young children with whom I work. I grow along with the children in knowledge, skills, and community relations. Prior to teaching, I worked in the retail industry as a consultant and manager of software systems and installations. I look forward to learning more tomorrow!

Name: Connie
Date: 2005-07-28 15:53:58
Link to this Comment: 15721

I entered teaching after becoming restless with my career as a WIC nutritionist. After reading the Philadelphia Inquirer, which advertised literacy interns in Philadephia, I applied. I was thrilled to become a teacher. An occupation which I could constantly learn and have an exchange of ideas and talents within one room. Teaching-I learned was a life style not an occupation. At the end of the day, I was emotionally and physically drained. Something inside of me wanted to continue to learn and cultivate the children to drench themselves with knowledge about life and the importance of being kind to one another. This coming year will be my third year teaching in a stand alone classroom. I relish the opportunity to spend time with other teacher to become a more equipped evolved educator. My room is filled with plants and will be filled with a fish tank. The children and I love colors and textures of fabric and marbled stone to set the environment of our classroom as a room of wonder and exposure. Technology is lacking in my room because of the limited funds and opportunity to properly instruct the students. This year I was to learn how to write a grant to acquire more technical equipment in the classroom.

Name: J. William
Date: 2005-07-28 15:57:24
Link to this Comment: 15723

Hi my name is Julie Williams and I am a sixth grade science teacher in Centennial School District. I am eager to learn about opportunities that exist for collaboration with colleges and universities in the area. I've had a few students attend "workshops" given at colleges and universities and their reaction was incredibly positive. I am looking forward to the conversation that will take place tomorrow.

wish list
Name: mrobertson
Date: 2005-07-28 16:03:00
Link to this Comment: 15727

1) teach all children to read - teach explicitly - teach from the learner's instructional level
2) build in background experiences

Name: Saroja Nad
Date: 2005-07-28 16:08:03
Link to this Comment: 15729

I am a science teacher in Philadelphia school district. I am interested in education. As my family responsibilities have come down at home, I thought I could make time available for the children at school.
I am interested in spiritual aspect of life. I am involved with meditation and energy healing. I am trying to teach science getting the help from these abstract helpers.
Looking at the today's struggle that is going on with class management and the dire necessity for raising the level of standard in math and science, I think the current method is not working very well. Children need to be in a changed environment away from thenegative atmosphere to a more structured, nourishing, safe area with good support and assurance towards better living.

Name: Antoinette
Date: 2005-07-28 16:28:22
Link to this Comment: 15730

Greetings, let me introduce myself... my name is Antoinette Sisco Soliman. I am a bible teacher, a wife, soon to be a mother!!!!!!, a sister, an aunt, a niece, a post gastric bypass patient, a midddle school special education teacher, an athlete, a graduate student, and a life long learner. The summer institutes are my playground. The K-16 collaboration wo years ago for me was an eye-opener and a challenge to leaave the one-room school house mentality, to realizing that we, at different levels are part of the village to raise the children entrusted to us for the time we have them.

Name: Wil Frankl
Date: 2005-07-28 16:36:58
Link to this Comment: 15732

I am a biology instructor at Bryn Mawr College (my webpage). Lately my attention is focused on science literacy. I am seeking to make science more accessible and user-friendly. Science is not principally a canon of knowledge and facts, but rather a process by which practitioners communally come to an understanding about the material world in which we all live. In this light, all are welcome contributors to the on-going human story. More generally, in passionately and enthusiastically exploring natural systems with students, I hope to unveil both its beauty and relevance. If humans can learn to see this beauty and how it relates to their lives, my belief is that the stewardship of the environment will finally become an important priority.

Name: Robyn Newk
Date: 2005-07-28 17:08:28
Link to this Comment: 15733

Hello to all,
I am the Field Placement Coordinator and student advisor for the Education Program at BMC. In both roles, I work at putting students in the Education Program in touch with teachers in local schools for the purpose of organizing field placements where they can observe or, better yet, help teachers in their classrooms. The more teachers and programs I get to know, the better I function in my position, hence my interest in tomorrow's gathering.

I also advise students about education related college courses (BMC, HC, UP, SWAT) that might fit their requirements for the Minor in Education, so hearing about college level math and science courses with an education angle is also useful. Though my professional career was mainly as a high school teacher of French, I began to appreciate some of the many interesting angles of new approaches to math and science education when I coordinated the placements for Victor Donnay's "Changing Pedagogies in Math and Sciences" course two years ago.

I look forward to meeting all of you, hearing about what you are doing and making new connections for our Ed students.

Name: Terry Newi
Date: 2005-07-28 17:43:59
Link to this Comment: 15735

I am a chemistry professor at Haverford College. I have been involved in various outreach activities since the late 1980's. Haverford ran a program for middle school math and science teachers in the mid 1990's. When that grant ran out, I continued working with Jane Horwitz's program at Penn, and this year participated in the Serendip program here at BMC.

anyone else still up?
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: 2005-07-28 22:40:44
Link to this Comment: 15737

Hello, all. I'm Anne Dalke, a member of the English Department @ Bryn Mawr. I run the Program in Gender and Sexuality here, and have been active in our praxis program and in various in- and out-reach activities of the Center for Science in Society. I've taught in the Summer Institutes for K-12 teachers for the past few years, and am right now co-directing the Institute on Making Sense of Change: Hands-On Science Throughout the Curriculum.

My own interests are in bridging the science/religious divide and the science/humanities divide (not sure which is a subset of which, but the concerns are common to both pairings). I do lots of two-cultures sort of teaching, with Paul (see Storytelling as Inquiry and The Story of Evolution/The Evolution of Stories), with other colleagues in the sciences (see Beauty) and the social sciences (see The Politics of Sex and Gender) and even occasionally on my own (see Big Books of American Literature and Thinking Sex). I'm very much interested in emergent pedagogies, in matters of diversity, and in the uses of technology to extend work we do in our classrooms.

I'm looking forward to crossing a few more bridges with you all in a few hours.

Name: Sherry Mor
Date: 2005-07-28 23:40:22
Link to this Comment: 15738

Hello everyone,

My name is Sherry Morris and I am a 30 year veteran Special Education teacher in the Philadelphia School District. In September, I will begin a
new adventure as a teacher at the Kensington High School Institute of Culinary Arts. It is my goal to teach Chemistry and Math through the study of food and it's preparation. I am new to the K-16 Collaboration Symposium and look forward to meeting everyone. I think it will be great to learn and share ideas.

Name: J. Odom
Date: 2005-07-29 07:08:46
Link to this Comment: 15739

Hello!, my name is Judith Odom. I am a science teacher in the Chester Upland School District and a participant in the Brain and Behavior and Making Change Institutes. I am looking forward to our discussion about how we as professionals can better help each other. I work in a distressed urban school district which has little resources and has difficulty attracting and keeping not only young and energetic teachers but also the skilled veteran teacher. I am a parent of four, three of whom are in the collegiate arena. Welcome!

Randal's Introduction
Name: Randal Hol
Date: 2005-07-29 07:26:09
Link to this Comment: 15740

Good morning everyone. My name is Randal Holly, and I am a science teacher in the Philadelphia School District. For most of my professional career, I have taught at the middle school grade level. However, I was assigned to Thomas Edison High School this past year. I have attended several of the summer institutes in the past and continue to welcome the opportunity to spend time working with educators on a college campus. I was once asked why do I return to Bryn Mawr College during the summers. My response was simple. In addition to being able to have the opportunity to work with those who share my passion for advancing science instruction, I also enjoy the beauty and serenity created by the continual landscaping efforts here at Bryn Mawr. For me, it has been the institute's strongest selling point.

As for my place in the "science learning arena", I continue to work at instilling in my students what seems for them quite a radical notion: each of you is a scientist and has been for quite some time. I craft my lessons so that each one exemplifies to students how science is, and has been, embedded in all aspects of their exploratory lives. This I find lessens the anxiety many bring to classroom as to what science education entails and thus increases the likelihood of success one may achieve in the course that is being taught.

A little bit about me!
Name: Tiffany Wi
Date: 2005-07-29 09:18:03
Link to this Comment: 15741

My name is Tiffany Williams and I am teaching in the School District of Philadelphia as a Teach for America (TFA) teacher. I recently finished year one of my two year commitment to Teach for America as a 6th grade special education (learning support) teacher at Ada H. Lewis Middle School. I am from Detroit, Michigan and I am a recent college graduate of the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. At U of M I double majored in Sociology and African & African-American studies, and my passion lies within the field of Urban Planning and Public Policy.

Name: mrobertson
Date: 2005-07-29 09:19:51
Link to this Comment: 15742

Margaret Robertson, middle school teacher, sixth grade, Philadelphia. I have never attended a forum like this. My colleagues in middle school have often expresssed an interest in meeting with elementary teachers from our feeder schools.. Seventh and eight grade teachers have wanted to meet with high school teachers. But this is a first. Bravo!

Notes and links are online
Name: Ann Dixon
Date: 2005-07-29 12:25:59
Link to this Comment: 15745

All the notes from the white board and their associated links are at

Thanks for coming, please continue the discussions and postings in this forum.


Useful web site for Philadelphia teens and their t
Name: Ingrid Wal
Date: 2005-07-30 13:18:55
Link to this Comment: 15751

The web site I mentioned at the mini-symposium is
It has a very useful guide called Teen Philly which provides very helpful information on all sorts of programs available for high school students, with topics ranging from science programs, college preparation and tutoring through jobs and career development, arts programs, health and family services, etc.. This guide summarizes many useful resources for teens and for teachers to direct their teens to.

Ingrid Waldron

Minisymposium I
Name: Saroja Nad
Date: 2005-07-31 22:05:53
Link to this Comment: 15759

Each one of the session that was held during this week was an example of a change that has been taking place. Experience with session on Galactic level changed my percepton of vastness of the universe that we are living in when saw the picture of our neighbours of solar system. Perception about learning through first hand experience and it is only the summerization of our observation made me change my plans to teach at high school to include more inquiry based lesson plans and get ready with more hands on activities. There is some hope to get students interested in learning and helping them to change some of their behavior through the strategy learnt in behavioral change. Definetly we are perceiving the change, going with the theme "Making Sense of Change" Thanks for the information regarding all the resources that are available to us who are willing to learn for our benefit and to be better educators. Thanks one all who have participated and contributed in small or big way.

Name: Paul Grobstein
Date: 2005-08-01 15:32:21
Link to this Comment:

Thanks all for a rich and inspiring half day together. I took great encouragement from the simple fact that thirty of us were willing to spend several hours talking together about how to better intersect K12 and college/university education. And was impressed by the freshness of the ideas and suggestion that arose from the conversation. Among the notions that I came away with was that we could do better for ourselves and our students if we made the whole educational process more "public", talking more with each other, with our students, and with parents and others who we normally tend to presume are "outside" the educational environment. I'm sure others took other particular notions from our time together, and hope they'll add them here. And that we'll be able to find ways to continue to generate together they kind of optimism, imaginativeness and commitment that we were able to create Friday morning. If nothing else, let's stay in touch by dropping by this forum every now and then and sharing what we are up to and thoughts of what more we might do together.

a new math learning system
Name: Joel S. St
Date: 2005-09-12 07:47:47
Link to this Comment: 16099

A new math learning system called Funforms

Many people have studied the effects of a structured number system on the mathematical capabilities of primitive peoples. As you undoubtedly know, there are many primitives who only count to three or four. Others, by naming parts of the body, might count into the 30s. It usually takes about two years for them to become adept at using Hindu Arabic numbers. Then they become more sophisticated at math concepts and operations. This fact suggest that other mathematical structures might lead to different kinds of understandings and or capabilities.

The effects of learning Funforms has not yet been studied. I am very eager to find a teacher, graduate student or a professor who might want to undertake a project which could consist of additional testing of a large group of students, and then (with permission) enriching their mathematical curricula either by taking Funforms or by taking some other enriching material. In the alternative, I have been looking for a school system that might have an interest in enriching math education for some or even all students.

What I have to offer amounts to allowing them to learn a new symbol system, and a new visually self-explanatory system for manipulating numbers. Operations become transparent. It is especially good for enhancing the understanding of the concepts of negative numbers, fractions [and their operations], addition, subtraction and multiplication.At the end of a semester or two the achievement level and the mathematical conceptual formation of the two groups could be compared and some sort of answer would be available. I have not been able to find anyone with such an interest. Does anyone have any ideas about that?

Grant money to study the effects of this new learning system should be available.

From my own personal experience I can tell you that when I learned a foreign language (Spanish), I was amazed at how much I learned about my own language. There are always benefits from looking at what you know from "the outside". Also I might add, when I taught Funforms to my children I witnessed several "Eureka moments". The most important one that I recall that was when my then 15 year old son said, "Oh that's why 1/2 of 1/4 is 1/8!" I said to him, "Didn't you know that 1/2 of 1/4 is 1/8?" He replied that he knew how to get the answer but he did not understand why that result was correct until he saw it visually in Funforms.

I will forward to anyone requesting it a power point presentation [which has been accepted as an alternate paper for presentation at the annual meeting of the Nation Council of Teachers of Mathematics]that demonstrates counting, addition and subtraction. When fractions, multiplication and division become available in that format, I will also forward that to all who ask for it. It is also available as a text document, but it is much easier to assimilate in the powerpoint format.

I hope to hear from someone from this forum in the near future.

J.Steinberg's Math system.
Name: Vavarirai
Date: 2005-09-26 12:40:24
Link to this Comment: 16315

I am deeply interested in Joel's "new math learning system" and would be happy to learn more.

Let me introduce myself. I am a post graduate student with Nottingahm University and my research interests are to find out possibilities of making learning more meaningful and less threatening to primary school pupils. My particular emphasisis in bridging the research / teaching divide using emerging pedagogies-like the one you propose.
Looking forward to crossing a few of these bridges together.

2006 minisymposium greeting
Name: Paul Grobstein
Date: 2006-07-24 12:27:50
Link to this Comment: 19983

Welcome to the K-16 collaborations on-line forum area, a place we can use for the upcoming July 28, 2006 minisymposium to get to know one another and share initial thoughts about K-16 collaborations in the Philadelphia area. And a place we can keep using to continue sharing thoughts/ideas/information in the future (see here for comments from and links to last year's minisymposium). Its also a place that people elsewhere might drop in on to see what's going on, so conversations here can have an impact not only locally but elsewhere as well. Join in, and let's see what we can do together about improving science and math education in all contexts, for everyone.

I'm a biologist/neurobiologist/educator/parent (, who thinks most of the really important human problems can be addressed only by creating richer and more effective educational environments and that building new bridges between educators at all levels is critical to that. A few links to some relevant things I'm involved with myself:

Looking forward to finding out about other people's interests and concerns, and sharing stories about how to work together to further our common ambitions.

K through 16 Conversations
Name: Susan Dorf
Date: 2006-07-25 10:52:44
Link to this Comment: 20006

I teach biology to students at The Baldwin School in grades 7 and 12. The Baldwin School is an independent school that has been dedicated to the teaching of girls and young women since 1888. In the 1960's, Baldwin built a separate building for the teaching of science, recognizing early the importance of science literacy for women as well as their ability to excell in the sciences. One-third of our graduates major in science, math, or engineering in college. The college entrance process drives so much of the high school experience for students that I am concerned that this process is also minimizing the pre college experience. Balwin is dedicated to the appropriate use of the AP Science Program. Our students are permitted to enroll in the AP Biology, Chemistry, or Physics courses only after successful completion of our year-long, high school level, introductory courses in these subject areas. We have maintained these standards even though other independent and public schools in our area use these AP courses not as advanced courses but as honors level courses for the first level. Some of the area independent schools are now dropping the AP programs. Personally, I believe that with appropriate use of the courses taught by trained, experienced teachers, the AP science program has value. In the AP Biology course, I would prefer to drop the Environmental Science section, which constitutes 11% of the course material, and slow the pace of the course. This would not weaken the course, and would recognize the existance of the Advanced Environmental Science course taught at Baldwin. My concern would be that my students would not be prepared in any way for questions on the AP Biology exam relating to this topic. Our students are required to take the AP science exams in order to get credit for the course on their transcripts. In other schools, only students who are earning A's in the courses are permitted to take the AP science exams. Another one of my concerns is that our parents push very hard to have their daughters enrolled in the AP Science courses even when we advise against specific courses for their daughters. In some cases, I think that specific students are better served waiting to take this level science course in college when they are one year older and in an envrionment more condusive to the intensity of the course. We do our best to advise students in light of our standards but are competing with the pressure of transcript building for college admissions. An ongoing conversation among educators K through 16 would certanily allow us to better serve the student population at their level of learning and experience.

placing institute participants
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: 2006-07-26 14:26:28
Link to this Comment: 20026

I'm writing now to introduce into this forum all of the participants in the current K-12 Summer Institute on "Science and a Sense of Place." Would each of you please "place" yourself (by identifying where-and-what you teach)? Then take some time to describe what sorts of collaborative experiences you've already had w/ college-level teachers and resources.

What makes such collaborations work? How can they be improved?

You might ground your answer by speaking specifically about your collaborations this week w/ a bi-college biologist, humanist, physicist and computer scientist:

Name: Marita
Date: 2006-07-26 16:01:00
Link to this Comment: 20028

What I appreciated most was being introduced to many new websites. Often I've felt I needed more time to master or at least further process what was presented. Perhaps there could be some more material directed toward younger or more limited students.

Date: 2006-07-26 16:42:34
Link to this Comment: 20030

Hello. I'm Mingh Whitfield, a pre-k/k teacher from Lansdowne Friends School. I spend the better part of any given year in the company of 3-6 year olds. I love it. But, I also find value in spending time with adult teachers of all grade levels (even the lunch discussions have been useful). I also think it is important to obtain and/or increase personal knowledge. The presenters have been great in providing me with this. However, I am finding that I am going to have to greatly modify the information for practical application in my classroom. That being said, this institute would be nearly perfect if there was at least one presenter who could address the unique needs of teachers woking in the early childhood education field (which includes teachers that have students who are up to age 9). I would love to hear one such professor's ideas on "science and a sense of place". Peace.

Most helpful part of collaboration
Name: Deb Hazen
Date: 2006-07-26 19:03:38
Link to this Comment: 20032


I'm Deb Hazen and I teach 5/6 at Lansdowne Friends School.

I always find it helpful to have a diverse group of folks and the time/space to share ideas and fine tune ideas for lesson plans. Too many of us work in isolation. We are healthier and our student's experiences are richer when we develop as teachers in community.

Hearing how much college professors value kids who know how to think critically, self direct study, generate and maintain interest in a line of inquiry, and know how to ask questions is very heartening. I'll be able to share these thoughts more confidently with parents. We all seem to know that teaching to a test is not in the best interest of students. Now if only we could do something about the reliance on standardized test scores and AP exams in the college admission process...can our institutions walk the talk? Even our "graduating" sixth graders have to take a standardized test to gain admission to an area private middle school! I'd like to see more collaborative research done by K-16 partners demonstrating the effectiveness of an inquiry based approach that de-emphasize standardized testing and emphasizes genuine student projects.

I've enjoyed each presentation this week without being overly concerned about the direct application to my grade level, I sense that if I understand what each person shares then I'll be able to make it accessible for the age group that I teach.

K-16 Collaborations
Name: C Foster
Date: 2006-07-26 22:55:07
Link to this Comment: 20035

My name is Charles Foster and I am an elementary science teacher (grades 3-5) at the Webster Elementary School (Phila.). I attended the summer institute in 2002 and I have also attended science trainings at the Franklin Institute the past two summers. One of the things that has worked for me the past 3 days has been our opportunity to “play” such as the “Alice” website and map activities. The challenge for me as a prep teacher who only has a class at the most 90 minutes a week is how do I provide these “play" experiences while still having time to complete the core curriculum. Also, maybe this is not the group with whom this needs to be addressed, but the process for student teachers needs to be somehow revisited. Student teachers need as much exposure to diverse environments (grade level, urban/suburban, ect...) as possible. Too often they don’t seem have enough support and many give up before they are even started.

Date: 2006-07-27 08:48:44
Link to this Comment: 20036

Date: 2006-07-27 08:59:55
Link to this Comment: 20037

Hi! My name is Deidre Bennett and I teach 3rd grade at Samuel B. Huey in Philadelphia. I have had limited experience working collaboratively with college professors or students. Most of my interactions with college professors has been as a student. I have had one opportunity to work collaboratively with a college professor and that was to plan out a GED program my school was sponsoring in the neighborhood. The experience was wonderful and I felt my opinion even as a undergrad student was valuable. This upcoming school year I hope to increase my interactions with college students. We are going to be recruiting students to help our students.
I believe universities and districts should communicate more with each other. The expertise of professors would be greatly valuable to improving classroom instruction and increasing teacher's knowledge base. Also, teachers have alot to offer college students with regards to the real life application of knowledge. Whatever the experiences our students would benefit as well as the field of education as a whole.

Name: dalia
Date: 2006-07-27 09:02:39
Link to this Comment: 20038

Hi! My name is Dalia Gorham and I teach 3rd grade at S.B.Huey school. I have had a positive experience collaborating with medical students at Temple University. The students had a health fair, set up in the school yard, that was very fun and informative for our students. They had different stations, for example, a station where the students did the salsa so they could understand that exercise can be fun. This Summer Institute has also been a positive experience. I have learned a lot. Everything that I have learned is not something I can directly put into my cirriculum, however, it gave me the background that I need to effectively teach the material on a 3rd grade level. I have been exposed to wonderful resources.

Is the Internet only for PORN?
Name: Jack Marin
Date: 2006-07-27 12:36:11
Link to this Comment: 20041

The INTERNET is not only for Porn
Name: Jack Marine ()
Date: 07/26/2006 20:34
Link to this Comment: 20034

This was an interesting day, day #3 that is. I was not myself in the AM, and I found the lecturing disrupting my being awake! It was interesting to hear about how the routers carry the browser messages to the servers, but
I would have had more fun and learned more surfing the web!

The second part of the day was super! Of course I didn't follow directions exactly, creating three short animation stories, rather than focusing on a more exciting one story - Great job Regina and Dahlia!! WOW to "yous guys"

I think I would try this with a small group of fifth or sixth graders, but I would have to bone up on the skills myself, then try it in a small group because I am not sure children this age could navigate these commands, etc.

I think I know how the Internet affects our space- it takes you anywhere you want to go. You can be literally way out in Outer Space, or you can just travel to look for something unusual, like miniskirts in Tanzania.
That certainly is far from our spaces here on the Main Line!

Today I remembered how in college (back in the late 70's) how we used to say how we were so spaced-out. I guess that meant like we were floating in outer space. But today we are spaced-out as a people, with friends and family incommunicado and so many places we can visit so far from our homes.
And that's what happens when we surf the Internet...we are so spaced-out!

k-16 collaboration
Name: Regina Tos
Date: 2006-07-27 12:59:46
Link to this Comment: 20042

Hello. I am Regina F. Toscani, a 19-year veteran of the Philadelphia School District. As a special education teacher (presently teaching Life Skills in a middle school) I have had the opportunity to interact with a diverse population (from severely, multi-handicapped to the student needing minimal resource room instruction).
I have been involved in several collaborations with college level educators (Science Resource Leader, West Chester Leadership Program, Bryn Mawr Summer Institutes). All have given me new skills, insights, teaching techniques, etc. Each also motivated me to view teaching with different perspectives. The most successful collaboration was with West Chester. Several teachers signed up to enroll in a course on cooperative learning. The professor taught the class at my school. He also observed each teacher using what he taught, and then critiqued the lesson. That instant feedback reinforced my knowledge and motivated me to alter my teaching style to become more effective.
What I think I need more of from college level educators is to include more on-site interactions with me and other k-12 instructors. (Theory and practice are not the same.). Also I think colleges can do more to include disabled (or the more politically correct term “ other-able”) students in their after-school and summer programs that they offer. The programs can address the multiply intelligences approach where each child is not judge one just one attribute (usually the ability to read). Perhaps a college might invite special education teachers and “regular” education teachers to, along with a college-level instructor (s), organize and run the program.
Finally I want to thank Bryn Mawr for not only running these wonderful institutes, but also for valuing the opinions of “lowly” k-12 educators, who may not get any validation from their employers.

Collaboration That Makes Sense!
Date: 2006-07-27 15:28:43
Link to this Comment: 20045

Collaboration That Makes Sense !
Date: 2006-07-27 16:09:26
Link to this Comment: 20055

Making Sense At Collaborating !
Name: Jennifer H
Date: 2006-07-28 09:09:07
Link to this Comment: 20061

Collaboration is really about people and relationships. The establisment of relationship allows for exchange of ideas and information, compromise and strategic planning. The collaboration must be with people and institutions that impact the lives of students, work duties and policies pertaining to programs and services. Additionally,there needs to be more collaboration between industries, labor unions, community leaders, and government offical. This collabration will ensure what students are being taught in our schools will match the needs of perspective employers.
Also, there needs to be a connection between what is taught in higher education and what is actually taking place in the classroom and in k-12 education. Hence, what is taught in colleges should be alligned with instructional strategies that are being used in the classroom. The collabration between higher education and basic education needs to adrress other areas such as services to special populations. These populations include students who are at risk, bi-lingual, exceptional learners and the econmically disadvantaged. Other areas which need to be addressed include digital divide and career -technological education.

Question 1
Date: 2006-07-28 10:40:25
Link to this Comment: 20065

Group: Cynthia, Charles, Mike, Wil, Marita, Catherine, Carol

What Works: Developmentally appropriate (considering neuroscience/psychology) activities that have practical real-life applications.

Interdisciplinary curriculum.

What doesn't work: large classrooms teaching content without context assessment that interferes with learning over the goal of rote information, ie, understanding global/earth processes versus narrow slivers called physics, chemistry, biology

Group 1: What works/doesn't work
Date: 2006-07-28 10:48:46
Link to this Comment: 20068

Group members: Judy ( HS teacher), Jack (elementary teacher), Alan (HS teacher), Liz, Deb (elementary teacher), Peter Brodfeuhrer (professor), Angel (HS student), Kat (HS student), Laura (college student)

What works/doesn't work will depend on school/circumstances... ex "magnet" schools versus schools "getting everyone else"; elite students have background knowledge, have to teach some students "from the bottom-up". Diversity in students presents a challenge-- how to "challenge gifted students"?

Works... if one can awaken enthusiasm, "hands on then follows"; covering subjects on a superficial level, then in depth (in theory should work, but doesn't seem to be working here). Doesn't work... "compartmentalizing science" into biology, chemistry, physics, etc. Textbooks-- may/may not work, depends on background knowledge/standards/etc.

Works... hands-on; Angel & Kat-- labs are good/fun.
Doesn't work... benchmarks/standards/etc. esp. for covering material; Not many schools are acheiving these standards. Standards not realistic, even for magnate schools. Teachers don't care about standards.

Lectures-- doesn't work? Some students like lectures, but frequently only if they're interactive. "Depends on information you have to know/look for." Teaching content doesn't work-- although some students like this.

Doesn't work... current cirriculum in primary school. Primary schools are emphasizing literacy, ignoring science. Furthermore, persons with "content degrees" (ex chemistry degrees) and no experience/education teaching are being hired. Or those being hired have only had one undergraduate science course. Elementary teachers are often "scared" of/to teach science. Students come to middle/high school with misconceived ideas of science.

The web-- can be useful, though not enough sharing/collaboration among teachers, etc.

Extracurricular activities (museums, etc.) not economically accessible.

Teachers need to concentrate on process rather than content, need to cultivate skepticism in students.

What are the most important things about the ed of
Name: Michael, A
Date: 2006-07-28 11:25:02
Link to this Comment: 20069

What works:

Mentoring, teachers with curiousity, strong content knowledge (can't make it accessible for a diverse group of students if you don't understand it), teachers willing to continue to grow---especially in regard to the ability to put themselves in the learner's shoes, constructive criticism, assistant teaching (giving you an oppty to learn from a seasoned teacher) before taking on a lead teaching assignment.

doesn't work:
Isolation, departmentalization, some school cultures stifle innovation and actually make it extremely difficult to implement what we learn in teacher ed programs in the classroom: most teacher prep programs teach differentiation--but the "be on this page on this day" mentality .

An aside: Student expectation...One of our group shared her frustration (as a younger student) when her idea of the teacher as expert was in conflict with the reality in the classroom. Both students in our group expected that the teacher standing before them had a college degree and so should know "everything". There was also the notion that english teachers who claimed to never do math/science or science teachers unable to spell correctly made them appear incompetent as teachers.

Group 2: Education of educators
Date: 2006-07-28 11:26:17
Link to this Comment: 20070

Group: Angel, Jack, Leonard, Alan, Jennifer, Will, Laura

"90% of what is learned in training is not applicable in the field"
Need to give teachers a broader range of methods to get content across
Education educators needs to be a CONTINUOUS process, needs to be continually reinforced.
"Hands-on teaching of teaching"-- needs to be part (core?) rather than something at the end of education.
Teachers needs to be exposed to diverse populations-- including not only urban/suburban, but college/high school/primary, bilingual, special needs, economically disadvantaged, etc.
It is hard for teachers to take "observation days", though many teachers are eager to do this. Teachers need support, not only critique. New teachers need mentors.
Many financial obstacles in taking observation days/continuing education/professional development.
Teachers need to be better prepared to be more "flexible, adaptive" in their teaching styles.
Theories of education (developed and researched at the college level) are not transferable to reality/to high school and primary school; they are too removed from the basic needs. Need to bring principle and practice closer together.
Comparing education of educators to the model of business education (which is very successful, has business students learning from businessman/women). However, science, unlike business, is not about interactions among people. Science is self-selected, very specialized. "Researchers shouldn't teach science."
"Well preparted, enthusiastic teachers not enough, but a start."
An example cited: How to reach inner city schools was taught through a video on theory of education-- not helpful.
"Too big of a gap/disconnect from college to classroom."
Education does not teach upcoming teachers how to assess students. Assement should be based on observing individual process, rather than through tests, etc. driven by standards/benchmarks.
Before something is implemented, it needs to be surveyed by real teachers.
Many professional development activities teach how to use programs used by a particular school rather than how to teach period.
More focus on managing dynamics of a classroom.

educating educators "what works what doesn't"
Date: 2006-07-28 11:45:29
Link to this Comment: 20071

Our group approached this question focusing on what has not worked in schools and how to improve upon what has.
First, we believe that future teachers need earlier exposure to the field of teaching and its environment. We suggested that colleges offer a year long internship in various educational settings. Second, colleges need to offer more psychology courses. This allows teachers to understand the various dynamics they will work within. Next, to increase the purpose of mentoring college professors need to teach "how to mentor'. Mentoring is not an effective tool in a school if the parties involved do not know how to do it. Also, teachers need to be willing to learn from their students and listen to them. Students have a wealth of "real life" knowledge to share that can effect the way you present 'book" content to them. This keeps in line with teachers learning to adapt and revise on demand. Let's not assume "students are always wrong". Last, colleges need to model effective co-teaching. Teachers too often don't ask their peers for help and guidance. We don't want them to assume we are incompetent. Co-teaching will increase the "it takes a village" mentality.

Charles, Ann, Chris, Cynthia, Sherry, Carol, Liz and Dedire

Educating Educators
Date: 2006-07-28 12:13:46
Link to this Comment: 20072

Comments from Mingh, Kat, Susan, Dalia, Annabelle, Marita, and Catherine:

What works:
1. Finding activities that you can actually apply in the classroom; professional development that addresses real needs

2. Workshops that model good teaching techniques (such as Paul's workshops)

3. Observations of other teachers

4. Mentoring

5. Interaction across levels (e.g., high school/college, middle/high, etc.)

6. Getting feedback from students, and being open-minded enough to accept critiques

7. Well-rounded teaching experiences as a student teacher

What doesn't work:
1. Being presented with activities or concepts that cannot be applied in real classrooms; being presented with activities that are not consistent with BOTH best teaching practices AND standards that must be met

2. Professional development simply for the sake of getting credit for doing it

3. Having teachers that are disconnected from the field that they are teaching

4. Those educating teachers not being familiar with classroom teaching

Group 2: Most important things to change now
Date: 2006-07-28 12:14:52
Link to this Comment: 20073

Improved attitude towards teaching/education, more respect for teachers. Teaching is not "something anyone can do".
Realization of what's happening now
Giving teachers more political influence/power to make changes/more decisivness
More credentials for those at the bottom-- elementary schools, principles, etc.
Better communication between teachers of students and teachers of teachers, as well as principles
A recruitment/screening process for those going into teaching for the wrong reason, programs need to "counsel out students" who do not have the right personality, who will not like teaching
Just as students are diverse, so are teachers. Teachers need help finding the types of environments where they will be able to teach the best.
Teachers need someone at a university/higher education institute to collaborate with.
More reward for collaboration
Longer time student teaching, also every so often a practicum in a different setting

How can we change the things that aren't working?
Name: transcribe
Date: 2006-07-28 12:19:19
Link to this Comment: 20074

Group: Marita, Peter, Jack, Susan, Leonard, Chris, Kaitlin
To address the issue teachers who are afraid of science, colleges can become more involved in providing professional development in science content, particularly at the elementary level. It also seems important to revise teacher training at the college level. One particular concern is that specialists in schools (like speech therapists) are asked to train other teachers in their schools-- teachers should be trained in this in college instead. There's a strong belief that we should focus changes at the elementary level and earlier. We like the idea of an assistantship/mentoring program but have concerns about money here. Would the public prefer more teachers or more technology? Philadelphia schools could make better use of college student-teaching programs and work with these colleges to make sure student-teaching programs meet their schools' goals and needs. Perhaps we need also to change Teach for America and similar programs so that teachers go through better training. Why don't school administrators come to these insitutes? How do we affect change in schools if the same structures are still in place? Many of us feel that this problem is too big and beyond our control.

Group #1 What Needs Fixing and How to Fix It
Name: Annabella
Date: 2006-07-28 12:29:52
Link to this Comment: 20075

Alan---mentoring should be ongoing. We can improve it by appointing a mentor manager per discipline. He would go from school to school, but stick to his discipline. Like the old Master Teacher Program.

Anne--Instead of mentoring, how about co-teaching? Mentoring is more from the top down. Since we can't afford two teachers per room, how about a teacher buddy program? Administrators could give the buddys the same lunch time so they could confer. Prep time would be individual. This would help the teachers get over feeling like they have to be right.

Alan--On another subject, we should bring teacher-ed college students back into the high school classroom through their 4 years in various positions/placements and discipliines.

Anne--Kat, what do teachers need to do to improve?

Kat--Teachers "know it all". It's an attitude. It's fine to know a lot about your subject. But you have to be able to admit you're wrong sometimes.

Anne--Bring in more conversation to the classroom. Not debate, but discussion where everyone listens to each other. And teachers need to keep in mind that learning is bi-directional. They can learn a lot from their students.

Annnabella--At all grade levels.

The History of Location
Name: cynthia
Date: 2006-07-28 12:35:45
Link to this Comment: 20076

Dr. Cohen's historical maps and buildings in our world was an experience.Architectural design is in anew light.

What works/doesn't work in science education?
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: 2006-07-28 14:19:40
Link to this Comment: 20077

Question #1: What works/doesn't work in science education?
(as answered by Leonard, Chris, Anne, Dierdre, Dalia and Kaitlin):

What doesn't work

What works

Group #4 What Works and Doesn't Work in Sci. Edu a
Name: Annabella
Date: 2006-07-28 14:32:43
Link to this Comment: 20078

What works in Science Education?
Susan--Experimentation with discussion.
Tamara--Hands on education. Interaction between students and teachers.
Ameera--Hands on education with discussion and reading. Makes it more interesting to know what is going on.
Jennifer--Collaberation between students and students with teacher. Socialization of the science curriculum. It has to have something to do with regular life.

What doesn't work in Science Education?
Tamara--lecture only. You have to include activities.
Susan--No discussion with experimentation. Without the discussion of what is going on, the student isn't learning.
Ameera--Not enough explanation, not enough labs. In 11th grade Chemistry, they didn't have any chemicals! And her teacher didn't like the students. He wouldn't answer their questions. He would just tell them what to do and then they were on their own.
Jennnifer--not connecting science courses from grade to grade. It would be good to have some continuity.

What works in General Education?
Sherry--Student friendly textbooks that are used as reference books.
And mentors for new and experienced teachers.
Susan--A teacher with passion for his subject and students.
Mingh--A prepared environment for the class, ie. controlled chaos. There has to be a direction.
Tamara--For young students, they need to learn as in play or entertainment.
Annabella--That would work well for all grade levels.
Jennifer--When teachers and administrators can take feedback from students.

What doesn't work in General Education?
Ameera--no mechanism for feedback and dialogue between students and teachers or administrators.
Sherry--Not enough hands on. We learn better when it's fun.
Mingh--Lack of preparation for the class all the way down to pre-K.
Susan--Moving teachers around to fill a spot without consideration to their qualifications and/or abilities.
Jennifer--Unqualified teachers for their position.

post meeting thoughts ...
Name: Paul Grobstein
Date: 2006-07-29 17:15:07
Link to this Comment: 20088

Thanks all for a rich and productive conversation. Materials from the minisymposium are, as promised, now available via links from the home page, including a participant list, small group thoughts, and photos.

A few of the thoughts that particularly struck me, for my own reference and whatever use they might be to others ...

Lots of the problems we identified might be more approachable/soluble if not only our students and ourselves but others as well (administrators, politicians) took a more "experimental" approach to science education, education, life in general, ie if we and they stopped trying to get it "right" and instead were openly/consistently committed to noticing and fixing what we all can more easily agree doesn't work well at any given time ("getting it less wrong"). That, arguably, is the real core of science (see Science as Story Telling and Story Revising and Science as Story Telling in Action). And so by ourselves living a serious commitment of that kind we could not only improve science education but play some role in moving the broader culture in that direction as well.

Along these lines, I hope you all were, as I was, impressed by the extent to which it IS possible for a group of students/K-12 teachers/college teachers to recognize both common problems and a significant commonality in how to try and fix them. Our shared sense that classrooms need to be more interactive, more related to where students are, and more process oriented seemed to be encouraging. Particularly if we all (students and teachers) think of ourselves both as products and as producers of the larger culture we are working in.

At the same time, it seems to me that we also identified some significant areas where we could use more discussion and some new strategies. One clearly has to do with the issue of the teacher as "authority". My sense was that we all recognized the desirability of teachers thinking of themselves as colleagues in exploration with their students but that there is more to talk about here, both how to deal with cultural expectations and also how to make it possible to acknowledge the value of expertise without compromising student engagement and initiative. On another vein, I very much share the sense that we need to find ways to get the message of the importance of exploratory education out more effectively to other segments of the culture, including administrators, politicians, and parents.

Thanks again to everyone for their contributions to Friday's session. Hoping we can keep the conversation going here, in other venues, and next summer.

Let Diversity Flow!
Name: Jennifer H
Date: 2006-07-30 10:48:20
Link to this Comment: 20089

Diversity allows for the inclusions of different cultures, races, socio-economic strata, and ethnic groups. As a result, diversity allows for greater opportunities for these group to learn from one another . An atmospere of acceptance and broard learning experiences is created . Let Diversity Flow. Let it flow, let it flow !

State Standards vs. Hands On
Date: 2006-07-30 14:09:02
Link to this Comment: 20091

Standards vs. Hands On
Name: J. Marine
Date: 2006-07-30 14:14:04
Link to this Comment: 20092

The research I've found suggest that sudents learn much more through hands-on exploratory learning rather that following textbooks and tests on the facts. But the School Districts feel that you must follow their benchmarks
that they think prove that students have learned what they've been taught.

I don't know what the end result will be, maybe this works in reading, writing, and math. But in science, learning by doing is one sure ways of
helping students remember what they are learning.

Spatial Literacy
Name: Cynthia
Date: 2006-08-02 12:20:56
Link to this Comment: 20109

Betsy helped me to understand with map reading.She honed my skill level in this area.I particularly liked traveling to Nicaragua via virtual maps.

Forum Archived
Name: Webmaster
Date: 2007-04-26 12:32:23
Link to this Comment: 21710

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