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SHD at The Brain and Behavior Institute at Bryn Mawr College

"The universe is made of stories, not of atoms." Muriel Rukeyser

"The human mind always makes progress, but it is a progress in spirals." Madame De Stael

Why I Chose To Attend The Institute

Like other participants in the institute, I am an educator. I have enjoyed the teaching role all my life. I went to a K through 8 inner city public school in Phila and then to a large inner city high school, followed by matricultion at a large city college, Temple U. in Phila. I lived at home while atending college and worked at various jobs on and off campus to earn money. During the years from grade 4 on, I enjoyed helping other students in my classes. In college, I tutored and also volunteered as a reader for the blind.

To put my husband through professional school, I worked as a technician in a neurobiology research lab at UPENN. There, I developed a sence of myself as a capable scientist and teacher. When my husband graduated, I began my graduate education in neuroanatomy. I wanted to pursue my own ideas and realized that I would need the credentials afforded by a Ph.D. I was facinated by the brain, maybe because of the limitations of my own. Much later, I discovered why school had always been both a joy and a struggle for me. I have auditory processing issues. All through elementary school, my teachers reported hearing deficits. My parents were instructed to take me for testing year after year at the Board of Education in Phila. No hearing deficit was ever found and no further type of testing was ever recommended. My issues were not due to a lack of ability to hear sound but to process sound. In addition, I reverse opposites. As a young person, I would stop on green and cross on red. Without an analysis of my frequent almost disasterous pedestrian encounters, I trained myself to verbalize the color of the light and the appropriate command. I also reverse letters and needed to train myself to verbalize while I read. Knowledge of my own learning and application issues have made me very sensitive to the potential needs of my students. I have always used multiple ways of communication just in case my students need them. Verbal, auditory, visual instruction (both in class board and handouts as well as my class website) are used in my classes each day.

I worked as a research scientists for 11 years. During those years I taught, formally in the teaching of Gross Anatomy to Penn dental students, and informally to train the multitude of technicians, undergrad and grad students, neurology residents, and post doc students who came through our lab. I enjoyed the teaching aspect of my work as I had enjoyed the teaching involved in previous experiences in my life.

When research money became tight and the demands of raising two young children not compatible with the demands of tissue culture based research, I choose to investigate the independent school system. In a private girls school, I have now taught for 16 years. I have taught science to kindergarteners, 5th, 6th, and 7th graders, biology to 9th graders, and also AP Biology to seniors. My experience in both public and private schools and in all three levels of pre-college education as well as post college teaching have contributed to both a wealth of personal experience and observation and a wealth of questions that need exploration. That is why I am enrolled in the Institute. I want to learn more about how the brain functions to better reach my students in order to increase their confidence and enjoyment with science.

Click here to see a resourse list of sites for interactive experiences for characteristics of living things.

Click here to go to teacher version of Unit for Characteristics of Living Things.
Click here to go to student version of Unit for the Characteristics of Living Things.

Adaptation of Paul Grobstein's schematic of Scientific Method by Susan Dorfman, Gayle Whittle, and Glenn Heck

Revised Scientific MethodRevised Scientific Method