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2007 - 2007 Presentations


Holly Devaul
Manager of Educational Programs and Services for the Digital Learning Sciences
Digital Library for Earth System Education, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (

Overview Presentation
Integrating Digital Libraries into Teaching and Learning

This session will focus on getting the most out of digital library features and functions to enhance teaching and learning. In addition to the basics of search and discovery, new features that allow for concept-browsing, educational standards alignment, and customization services for school websites will be demonstrated in the context of the Digital Library for Earth System Education.

Interactive Workshop
DLESE Teaching Boxes: the Familiar “Box on the Shelf” Goes Digital

The Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE) provides access to high-quality digital resources for teaching and learning about the Earth, offering support and leadership in addressing the national reform agenda for science education. Funded by the National Science Foundation, DLESE ( provides access to over 12,000 educational resources that comprise a variety of media formats, from text-based lesson plans to sophisticated tools for interactive visualization of authentic scientific data. As part of its education and outreach strategy, DLESE has facilitated the creation of Teaching Boxes: classroom-ready instructional units collaboratively developed by teachers, scientists, and instructional designers ( Teaching Box activities are designed to model scientific inquiry, allowing teachers to build classroom experiences around data collection and analysis from multiple lines of evidence, and engage students in the process of science. – focusing on gathering and analyzing scientific evidence. Currently six boxes for middle and high school cover plate tectonics, weather, seasonal upwelling, changing sea level, earthquakes, and mountain building. Participants will initially discuss the challenges and benefits of integrating electronic materials into the classroom, practice search skills, and select a topic they teach to focus their explorations as they develop their own lesson using library resources. The workshop will allow for hands-on exploration of the library and the Teaching Box materials.

Karen Graham, Professor of Mathematics
University of New Hampshire (UNH)
Megan Paddack, Ph. D. candidate in mathematics education
University of New Hampshire (UNH)

Overview Presentation
The Role of Inquiry in the Teaching and Learning of Mathematics

This session will present an overview of frameworks and recommendations related to the role of inquiry in the mathematics classroom.  The relationship between inquiry, reasoning, and proof will be explored.  Rubrics and continuums developed as part of an NSF-funded project will be discussed.  Other classroom based examples will be presented.

Interactive Workshop
Implementing and Assessing Inquiry-based Teaching in the Mathematics Classroom

This workshop will provide participants with an opportunity to explore in more depth the role of inquiry in the teaching and learning of mathematics.  Hands-on activities will include examining inquiry continuums, analyzing classroom examples through case studies and video-tapes, and analyzing national/state/local curriculum frameworks with an eye toward inquiry.  Participants will have an opportunity to set personal goals and reflect on how their own practice can be more inquiry-based.

David Hammer, Professor of Physics and Curriculum & Instruction
University of Maryland -  College Park

Monday evening talk
What it Looks like When it Works

It sure isn’t the typical outcome, but once in a while a course does some truly wonderful things for a student.  I’ll tell the story of Louis, a student from a spring semester introductory course who failed the first midterm, decided to change his approach, and became one of the top students in the class.  Why did it work so well for him, and how can we make it work like that for others?

Overview Presentation
The Goal of Student Inquiry

The word “inquiry” has become pervasive in science education, but it’s not always clear exactly what it means.  People speak of “guided inquiry” and “inquiry-based science instruction,” where the guidance or instruction is toward some ideas in the canon, and inquiry is the instructional approach toward the goal of students understanding those ideas.  The question that comes up is whether inquiry-based approaches are more or less effective than other options at getting students to understand those ideas.

I’m going to argue that inquiry is better understood as the central substance of what we should be teaching; inquiry is scientific sense-making.  In other words, science is inquiry (and the products of inquiry), and so we shouldn’t see inquiry as tied to instructional method; we should see it as inherent in what we are teaching students to do.  That makes for different questions:  What does inquiry look like, when students are doing it?  What constitutes “better” inquiry, and what will help them do it better?

This presentation will focus on instructional diagnoses and decisions with respect to student inquiry. I’ll discuss examples from elementary school and college, to talk about the beginnings of scientific inquiry in children and what becomes of them later.

Interactive Workshop
Attending and Responding to Student Thinking

This workshop will pick up where my earlier presentation left off. Participants will watch video excerpts from middle school science classes, offer possible interpretations of the students’ reasoning, diagnose what they seem to be doing well and what they could be doing better, and finally to consider possibilities for how the teacher might respond.  Participants are encouraged to bring a laptop with audio

David E. Kanter, Assistant Professor in Curriculum, Instruction, and Technology in Education (Science Education)
College of Education,Temple University, Philadelphia

Overview Presentation
Learning Biology Using Project-Based Inquiry In
Chicago’s Middle And High Schools
This talk explores the extent to which project-based inquiry science (PbIS) curricula designed with supports for students’ inquiry into complex scientific data can help students make sense of such data and ultimately promote their deep understanding of standards-based content.  We review the design of a PbIS middle school life science curriculum, “I, Bio,” and a high school biology curriculum, “Disease Detectives.”  We review quantitative and some qualitative data from classroom enactments of these curricula to gauge the extent to which students deepened their understanding of the standards-based content targeted by these curricula.

Interactive Workshop
How To Design Project-Based Inquiry Biology Curricula For Meaningful Understanding

Project-based Inquiry Science (PbIS) curricula aim to support students building a meaningful understanding of standards-based science content by making the inquiry-based learning of the content instrumental to completing a project.  However, students involved in a performance PbIS curriculum in particular- in which they have to do or make something- may focus on the performance at the expense of the meaningful understanding of the science content.  This problem can be addressed to some extent in how we design the curriculum itself.  In this interactive workshop, we will learn about curriculum design challenges related to creating students’ demand for the content and providing them with the opportunity to apply the content.  We will then learn about curriculum design approaches for resolving these challenges.  We will do this by doing and reviewing one lesson from the middle school PbIS human biology curriculum, I, Bio.  We will then try our hand at designing a lesson for a high school PbIS human biology curriculum to teach similar content, to practice recognizing the curriculum design challenges and using the curriculum design solutions to resolve them.  We will see how close we come to an existing lesson from the high school PbIS human biology curriculum Disease Detectives. Participants are encouraged to bring a laptop with audio.

David Pysnik, chemistry/research instructor at Sidney High School
Sidney, New York

Overview Presentation
Down by the River – A Multidisciplinary, Collaborative Study of the
Upper Susquehanna River Basin
The Upper Susquehanna Watershed Project has been an on-going study for the purpose of comparison of water quality, sediment, and meteorological data for the upper Susquehanna River valley from Otsego Lake to Afton, New York.  Seven public schools districts were invited to participate because of their location on the river.  Meteorological data was gathered at each school using wireless weather stations and the Internet.  Significant precipitation events were predicted by students for timely water sampling by team members and for the purpose of comparison to Doppler radar rainfall estimates.  Water sampling and analysis was also done on a weekly basis for the purpose of studying water quality compared to industrial and agricultural locations and significant precipitation events.  Some of the specific biological and chemical tests included procedures for analyzing bacteria, turbidity, temperature, nitrates, nitrites, ammonia, chlorine, phosphates, and dissolved oxygen.  Rapid bio-assessments were also performed at each site.

The study established a baseline for future comparison and analysis.  It revealed specific characteristics of the river during high and low level flow as well as during severe storms.  Except for a few point sources of pollutions, the Upper Susquehanna Watershed proved to be quite healthy unlike lower portions of the river in Pennsylvania and Maryland.  However, our watershed group was the first lab to confirm the initial infestation of zebra mussels in the river. Their overall affect is difficult to predict at this time.

Results of the investigation are presented to the school communities involved and to the general public by the students at a mini-conference held once a year at Sidney High School.  Participants also have presented papers, workshops, and poster sessions at local, regional and state conferences.

Various pieces of test equipment and materials used in the project will be available for examination or actual use at the conclusion of the presentation.

Interactive Workshop
Let’s Go Down to the River!

Participants will hike to a local stream and test the water at the site as well as bring back samples to test.  While at the site, characteristics of the water such as pH, dissolved oxygen, and temperature will be determined.  Samples brought back to the lab will be analyzed for phosphate, nitrate, chloride, turbidity, total solids, alkalinity, and conductivity.  The principle analysis techniques will be through the use of Hach kits which involves simple colorimetric comparisons to standard color standards.  However, additional testing of water samples will be done using various types of equipment including selective ion electrodes, fixed and variable wavelength colorimeters and digital probes.  Use of Palm PDA’s and TI-84 calculators, interfaced to test equipment will also be incorporated in the sample study. The participants are also invited to bring samples from their local streams and ponds to test.

Molly Schauffler, Assistant Research Professor of Earth Sciences and the Climate Change Institute
University of Maine

Was This Winter Warmer Than Usual?: Finding Evidence From Online Data.
We will download, analyze, graph, and interpret online weather and climate data to develop evidence that supports answers to this question.  How would you incorporate these technical skills in your classroom to enhance student inquiry and independent thinking?

Don Sprangers, science teacher
Washington Academy, East Machias, Maine

Overview Presentation
Academy’s Sustainable LIFE Curriculum:  Ecological Education in Action
Environmental education ought to change the way people live, not just how they talk” (David Orr), and this is best accomplished through the breaking of boundaries between the disciplines of knowledge, and by involvement in practical, relevant projects that deal with ecological relationships within a community.

Ecological literacy in the 21st Century needs to become a National priority.  The Washington Academy Sustainable LIFE Curriculum is a place-based educational program that incorporates topics of ecological concern pertinent to the Downeast Maine bioregion.  A Community Needs Assessment is used to identify environmental issues of ecological importance, survey related resources, and identify potential partner organizations and their roles.  Involving students in the planning and implementation of authentic research that produces a product that will benefit the school, the community, or the sponsoring partner organization(s) leads students to the development of an environmental ethic and the empowerment to transform their worldview, thus preparing students to be environmental leaders working toward a future of sustainable LIFE.

The Washington Academy Sustainable LIFE Curriculum takes a holistic approach to learning and aims to transform the student’s worldview through the development of an environmental ethic. Ecological Literacy begins in childhood. Fostering ecological literacy involves environmental education that is participatory and experiential.  Students involved as stewards of our natural resources grow up to value the gifts of nature that abound them.  This presentation will explain the development and implementation of the Sustainable LIFE Curriculum at Washington Academy High School in East Machias, Maine.

Interactive Workshop
Washington Academy’s Sustainable LIFE Curriculum:  Ecological Education in Action

Learn how:

  • To develop a Sustainable LIFE Curriculum appropriate for your community/bioregion
  • To conduct a Community Needs Assessment, Greenworks Program, PLT
  • To prepare and analyze biodiesel in the classroom laboratory

Michelle Stephan, 7th grade mathematics teacher
Lawton Chiles Middle School near Orlando, Florida
Diana Underwood-Gregg, Associate Professor of Mathematics Education and the Director of the Purdue Calumet Center for Mathematics Teaching and Learning
Purdue University Calumet (PUC) in
Hammond, Indiana.

Overview Presentation
Inquiry Teaching as a Dynamic System

Teaching mathematical inquiry in classrooms involves an intricate system comprised of students, a teacher and curriculum. In order for an inquiry environment to be most successful, a delicate balance among all three components of the system must be maintained. Such a relationship is more easily said than done. In our presentation and workshop, we will discuss the role that each of these components plays in creating and sustaining a genuine inquiry environment. We will do so using examples from middle school classrooms in which the teachers are attempting to teach using an inquiry approach., some for their first time.

Interactive Workshop
Providing Learning Opportunities for Middle School Students to Reason Algebraically: An example of the “delicate balance”

This session will engage teachers in an exploration of two instructional sequences that were developed by Underwood-Gregg using instructional design principles of Realistic Mathematics Education. Both sequences were designed to promote algebraic reasoning and a deep understanding of conventional algebraic notation.  The first sequence was designed to provide opportunities for students to make sense of equations of the form Ax+B=C where A is a fraction.  The second sequence was designed to promote students’ understanding of a coordinate system while simultaneously facilitating their understanding of linear relationships. Underwood-Gregg will engage the teachers in these sequences, discuss RME principles, and discuss her specific instructional intent.

The role of the teacher in introducing both nonstandard and standard notation that represents and supports students’ reasoning is an essential element in the enactment of these sequences.  This can only happen if the teacher initiates the development productive discourse that supports inquiry. The Building Plans sequence was enacted by Stephan with her 7th graders during the 2006-2007 school year.  She will share her students’ work during the sequence and her role in promoting productive classroom discourse.  She will also discuss her deliberate actions during the classroom discourse to introduce notation at key points that would provide learning opportunities for her students to move to the next level in their understanding.


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