Activities Workshop Notes
July 15 - 22, 2001
University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin
Workshop notes compiled by Clarice M. Yentsch (AMNH) with
input from Arlyn Bruccoli (AMNH and CRREL), Sally Crissman (TERC) and Maritza
The program of the Activities Workshop
was designed with two overarching goals:
- to provide a state-of-the-art professional development experience for the
parcticipating teachers and facilitators
- to produce exceptional inquiry activities, one per each of three teams.
The three teams were:
- SEA ICE (Sandra Kolb, Kolene Krysl, Larry Rose and Wendy Slijk with Martin
Jeffries as the Research Scientist)
- CLIMATE CHANGE (Mara Carey, Judy Filkins, Karina Leppik, and Rolf Tremblay
with Deb Meese as the Research Scientist)
- SUBDUCTION RECYCLING (Rick Ford, Katy Myrick and Steve Stevenoski, with
Robert Stern as the Research Scientist, not present).
The Workshop was held at the Friedrick
Center at the University of Wisconsin, Madison from July 15-22 and was facilitated by
Arlyn Bruccoli, Sally Crissman and Clarice Yentsch. Maritza Macdonald, Evaluator,
was present for the first four days.
Arlyn Bruccoli (TEA Program
Coordinator) American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY
Mara Carey (TEA Associate) John W. Rogers Middle School, Rockland, MA
Sally Crissman (Curriculum Specialist) TERC, Cambridge, MA
Judy Filkins (TEA Associate) Hanover Street Elementary School, Lebanon, NH
Rick Ford (R/V Melville Teacher) Fossil Hill Middle School, Fort Worth, TX
Martin Jeffries (Workshop Scientist) University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks,
Sandra Kolb (TEA 00/01) Private Educational Consultant, Poulsbo, WA
Kolene Krysl (TEA 00/01) Westside Community Schools, Bellevue, NE
Karina Leppik (TEA 00/01) Choate Rosemary Hall, Wallingford, CT
Martiza Macdonald (TEA Program Evaluator) American Museum of Natural History,
New York, NY
Deb Meese (Workshop Scientist/TEA Program PI) Cold Regions Research &
Engineering Lab, Hanover, NH
Katy Myrick (R/V Melville Teacher) Austin Academy, Austin, TX
Larry Rose (TEA Associate) Pleasanton Middle School, Pleasanton, CA
Wendy Slijk (TEA 00/01) La Costa Canyon High School, San Diego County, CA
Steve Stevenoski (TEA Workshop Host/ TEA 95/96) Lincoln High School, Wisconsin
Rolf Tremblay (TEA 00/01) Goodman Middle School, Gig Harbor, WA
Clarice Yentsch (Workshop Facilitator/TEA Program PI) American Museum of
Natural History, New York, NY
Arrive and Icebreaker
- Check-in at the Friedrick Center Lobby
- 4pm: Workshop Facilitators Available
- 7:30 pm: Icebreaker at Friedrick Center, light snacks
Day 1: Goals and Seed Idea
Morning: (9 AM start)
- Hands-on Inquiry; predicting
- Explore Powerful and Disappointing Instructional Materials
- Compare and contrast print vs. web delivery
- GOALS and expectations
- Brainstorm Seed Idea
- Inquiry Model
- Context Map
Day 2: Science and Learning Connections
- Science Seminar by Dr. Deb Meese, "Paleoclimate as Seen Through Deep Ice Cores"
- Questions and Answers
- Learning Connections
- Interview with Scientist:
- Application of the Inquiry Model
- Giving and Receiving Feedback
- Science Seminar by Dr. Martin Jeffries, "Arctic and Antarctic Sea Ice and Climate:
Are We Skating on Thin Ice?"
- Questions and Answers
- Learning Connections
- Interview with Scientist:
- Application of the Inquiry Model
- Giving and Receiving Feedback
Evening: Group Dinner at Friedrick
Day 3: Develop Inquiry
- Check-in and Feedback
- Adjourn at 3 pm
Day 4: Develop Inquiry Activity
- 4:30 pm Submit Working Draft for Duplication
Evening: Cookout w/ AMANDA team
Day 5: Edit
- Review Copies of all Working Drafts
- Giving and Receiving Feedback
Day 6: Polish and Wrap-up
Submit Polished Draft at 3 pm
On Sunday, July 15, the parcticipants
assembled at the Frederick Center. This facility was our home and workspace. We had
been assigned four rooms in the Conference Center, one that would serve as our
workshop total group space, and one room each for the three teams. A special thanks
to Steve Stevenoski for making the arrangements.
When we gathered for the Icebreaker, we were asked by Sally Crissman to
undertake a thought experiment slated as PREDICTION, DATA and MAKING
SENSE OF RESULTS Part I. All parcticipants were handed a blue-colored pencil and were
asked to make a prediction, with drawing, for the following morning.
Predictions, Data, and Making Sense of Results
Part I: Playing It Out
Imagine you are given three same-sized ice cubes made from food-colored
Imagine placing one ice cube in the glass of warm water, a second cube in a glass
of cold water, and the third in an empty glass.
Imagine what will happen. Make a prediction that includes drawings. The
drawings should include labels, annotations, and questions that occur as you play out
a sequence of events.
Predictions are based on experience. They are not guesses. Predictions are not
hypotheses, although they may imply a working hypothesis.
What evidence did you use to make your prediction? Evidence includes your own
experience, observations, and learning that might pertain to this situation.
You will get to do this activity in reality and will be able to check your
Day 1: Goals and Seed
On Monday, July 16, when we
reconvened, we were asked to share the predictions in small groups and then we
actually conducted the inquiry
PREDICTION, DATA and MAKING SENSE OF
RESULTS Part II.
Predictions, Data, and Making
Sense of Results
Part II: Testing the Predictions
Carefully place one ice cube in a glass of warm water, a
second cube in a glass of cold water, and the third in an empty glass. Observe what
As you observe, carefully record your observations. Draw what you observe,
annotate, and jot down questions as they arise.
In schools, too often we stop once data has been collected and displayed, omitting
time for analysis and making sense of data.
Analyze your data. Did your data match your prediction? If your data was different
than you predicted, can you explain the discrepancy? If you pool everyone's data, is
there a consistent pattern? Are there alternate explanations for observations?
What science phenomena or concepts are important to understand for accurately
predicting the behavior of melting ice cubes?
Can you think of another activity that would challenge someone to apply these
same phenomena or understandings? (Assessment)
Each parcticipant had been asked to bring two activities/instructional materials:
one that he/she found powerful and one that he/she found disappointing. We
underwent a consensus-building process to note the findings.
Charted for Powerful Instructional Materials
comfortable/flexible for multiple intelligences and learning styles
real-world connections and bi-polar
have guiding question
have robust content
Charted for Disappointing Instructional Materials
- superficial process and/or content
- no choice/options
- science misleading and/or confusing
- no resources and extension activities
- no added value
- did not merit the time spent
An open dialogue was then held to compare and contrast the writing of activities
for print delivery vs. Web delivery. The products from this workshop are intended
for Web delivery.
links, therefore can be resource rich
however, easy to get lost and/or distracted
need to FOCUS on the guiding question
Websites are constantly changing
potential for animation, simulations, visualization
must write clearly and concisely for Web
student excitement about technology is helpful motivator
students learn technology as well as science content and process
- An example of successful Web delivery is WebQuest
By contrast, print delivery has these advantages:
- by skimming, one gets a good sense of the activity from start to finish
- more detail/elaboration is possible
- easy access to all, in most settings no technology requirements
We finished the morning with the Goals and Expectations for the workshop.
- to develop an inquiry activity for middle school students
- to have the inquiry be multidisciplinary, therefore students should write, predict,
observe, draw, gather evidence, etc.
- to have appropriate links and background reading
- to match up the activity with the inquiry model and with powerful and
- to be directed at a concept important for understanding bi-polar science
- to be set in context in the real world
- to determine where the activity fits in the National Science Education
- to write the inquiry activity for Web delivery
- to submit to the Web using the TEA template
Monday afternoon we began by brainstorming the seed ideas. This was done in the
three teams and was a continuation of the pre-Workshop preparation by
parcticipants. The brainstorming results were posted on the walls of the main room.
We spent considerable time on the Inquiry Model. The group elaborated that
there were several kinds of models. Examples are: mental models, conceptual models,
physical models, process models, dynamical and mathematical computer-based
Models of Inquiry
"The NSES Standards emphasize that science education needs to give students
three kinds of scientific skills and understandings. Students need to learn the
principles and concepts of science, acquire the reasoning and procedural skills of
scientists, and understand the nature of science as a parcticular form of human
endeavor. Students therefore need to be able to devise and carry out investigations
that test their ideas, and they need to understand why such investigations are
uniquely powerful. Studies show that students are much more likely to understand
and retain the concepts that they have learned this way."
Inquiry and the National Science Standards, pp. xii-
One of the requirements of the instructional materials to be developed this week is
that they include an opportunity for students to carry out investigations. The case for
the role of investigations is summarized above. The table below, also from Inquiry
and the National Science Standards p.35, outlines what this might look like in a
Table 2-7. Common Components Shared by Instructional
Phase 1: Students engage with a scientific question, event, or phenomenon.
This connects with what they already know, creates dissonance with their own ideas,
and /or motivates them to learn more.
Phase 2: Students explore ideas through hands-on experiences, formulate
and test hypotheses, solve problems, and create explanations for what they
Phase 3: Students analyze and interpret data, synthesize their ideas, build
models, and clarify concepts and explanations with teachers and other sources of
Phase 4: Students extend their new understanding and abilities and apply
what they have learned to new situations.
Phase 5: Students, with their teachers, review and assess what they have
learned and how they have learned it.
As you think about your own TEA experiences and listen to Drs. Meese and Jeffries,
consider to what extent you think the Common Components model the way scientists
actually reason and proceed. Where in such instructional models do students have an
opportunity to "understand the nature of science as a parcticular form of human
Following the inquiry model dialogue, we moved into making context maps. For
this day, the context map was to include the THEME as the centerpiece. Eventually this
would be replaced with the GUIDING QUESTION of the SEED IDEA. In zones around the
centerpiece, various facets of the inquiry model were requested for reflection and
arcticulation. Zone I the principles and concepts of science. Zone II making
predictions and reasoning and procedural skills of science. Zone III nature of science
as a human endeavor.
The final portion of the day was viewing a 5-minute segment from the video "Can
we believe our eyes?" MINDS OF OUR OWN, The Annenberg/CPB Math and Science
Collection (availability 1-800-965-7373 and http://www.learner.org).
Closing Day Evaluation
Keep TEA time TEA time and personal time personal time
Highlights The ice cube experiment was a great introduction and a way to
focus us on inquiry.
Lowlights We found State Street too far for lunch a time crunch. We
need ideas for easier and quicker lunches.
Highlights- The room is comfortable, windows, chairs, tables etc.
Highlights 1) meeting teammates and others and starting to think scientifically as
an entity 2) ice cube experiment was cool! Ha ha
Lowlights color of these cards, they hurt my eyes!
Highlights Good group of folks, accommodations, and workspace.
Lowlights Long way to lunch
Highlights Great introduction; good sharing of principle of good
I like that we will be writing for the Web.
Lowlights Lunch location but it has been solved!
Great first day for me a least found a place to start.
Highlights Experiment with the ice cubes. It was fun to test our predictions.
Lowlights Long walk uphill both ways to lunch.
Day 2: Science and
Tuesday, July 17 was the Science Day and
elaborating the Learning Connections. The design was to have the two science
lectures, to explore the learning connections and then for the team members to
interview the scientist in a Fishbowl format. The guiding questions were Application
of the Inquiry Model and Giving and Receiving Feedback.
Giving and Receiving Feedback
For those of us who write, a good editor is pure gold. Yet, every writer has felt
vulnerable when handing a draft to someone else to edit or comment upon. When the
writing comes back from a review, covered with questions, changes, comments, and
suggestions, it can make the author feel more overwhelmed than helped, more
offended than thankful. Yet, if you keep your eye on the prize, i.e. writing as best
you can, these questions, comments and suggestions can be very useful. At this point,
one way to proceed is to roll up your sleeves and consider the comments one by one.
Some you will ignore, some you can deal with quickly (a typo or syntax errors); some
you will need to think about for a while (adding more detail and depth, or omitting a
favorite paragraph). You are now on your way to an improved next draft.
Each time you submit your writing for feedback, it becomes easier to accept and
deal with the responses. Over time, it helps to find a reader you really trust: one who
will tell you directly and clearly what works and doesn't work. Soon, you will wonder
how you ever wrote anything without getting careful, thoughtful, honest feedback.
This week, you will be submitting your co-authored drafts for feedback from
individuals. The potential benefits are the same; deciding what to do with the
feedback becomes a group activity.
Some Tips for Giving Feedback
- Keep in mind the goal of improving your collective work. If you shy away
from giving specific, honest feedback, you may be depriving a group of a chance to
strengthen its work. When you are on the receiving end of feedback, keep the goal
in mind: this is a chance to strengthen our materials.
- Any feedback should be specific. Feedback should relate to the criteria for these
lessons. Is the concept and activity a good match for middle school? Is there a built-in
opportunity for real student inquiry? Etc.
- As you read, use the Post-its to jot down places where clarification is needed,
where you have questions, etc. When you finish reading, return to these places and
put your notes into language that will help the authors understand your question or
- There may be places where suggestions are appropriate, but not directives or
Some Tips for Receiving Feedback
- Before you hand over your draft, think about what kind of feedback will help
your group improve this piece of work. Let your colleagues know what you would
like them to focus on as specifically as possible.
- When you receive feedback, take time to ponder your colleagues' comments. After
thinking over the feedback for a while, you may discover a different relevance or
- When you receive feedback, remember that you are the authors and may do what
you wish with the feedback you receive. Because you have prepared feedback
yourself, you will recognize the thought and care required. Accept the comments of
others as gifts from supportive colleagues.
The scientist in the morning was Dr. Deb Meese, CRREL and the scientist in the
afternoon was Dr. Martin Jeffries, University of Alaska, Fairbanks.
At the end of the day there was a showing of the video "Can We Believe Our Eyes"
in its complete version.
Tuesday evening there was a group dinner at the Friedrick Center.
Closing Day Evaluation
Highlight The discussion times with Deb and Martin
Lowlight Sitting all day It was difficult to focus sometimes
Highlights It felt so inspiring to listen to Deb and Martin about their
research. Sometimes in teacher in service workshops or classes, etc., I think we get
caught up in our own know-how. Listening to them brought me to a place where I
felt like a student again and I find myself inspired to the world of opportunities,
adventures, and work that is possible to me or anyone if we chose to follow that route
or change course. I dont always get what they are talking about, but it sure
makes me want to find out what I dont get. I realize that even though they can
talk over my head, those two, especially in my experiences with them, can come down
and help me understand. That is a great trait of a teacher! Way to go Deb and
Lots of good information. I really enjoyed both speakers. It might have been more
information than I can absorb in one day though.
Wonderful day! It was great to hear Dr. Meese and Dr. Jeffries and be able to "pick
their brains." Also, I really liked the video. Its very eye opening. Can we take
time to have Katy and Rick tell us about their experience on the R/V Melville?
Highlights both scientists provided so much valuable information that my
brain hurts (I can see options for my activity group and my own classroom
that I had not expected). Great stuff.
Lowlights not enough time with each scientist more handouts prior
to workshop might have helped provide the background or baseline for us to
consider before we got here. Im looking forward to resources mentioned by
both websites, handouts, and data. This day has been inspiring great
video potential to show to parents!
Enjoyed hearing the science lectures. Fascinating and well presented.
Highlights a very interesting day. I feel like I learned so much. I
dont think there are any lowlights.
Highlights Thanks for the high degree of sensitivity to personal time
needs! Deb and Martin were terrific. This is a great part of all of the workshops
Ive attended the work with the research scientist PIs and their respect
Lowlights I want more opportunities for ice cream!
An absolutely excellent day. Super content learning. Great application to inquiry
learning. A nice review and smooth flow. Thank you again for individual attention to
our personal needs.
Day 3: Develop Inquiry
Wednesday was the first day to spend
intensive time as teams developing the inquiry activities. The scientists were
available to the teams all day. Sally covered the Curriculum Backwards Design Process
as adapted from Grant Wiggins book Understanding by Design.
Identify desired results
- Whats worth being familiar with?
- Whats important to know and do?
- What are "enduring understandings?"
Determine acceptable evidence
- What will tell you that the desired learning has been achieved?
Plan learning experiences and instruction
- Enabling knowledge
- Facts, skills, concepts
- Materials/resources best suited
- Coherence of design etc.
Closing Day Evaluation
Highlights Learning about subduction recycling was excellent. Team
presentations were provocative. They really got me thinking about my own practice.
A good day. Interesting. Difficult in that we had to go from complex to simple ideas,
but with good support.
I feel we made good progress today.
Very positive support and feedback from all parcticipants on the lesson! Too bad
that Sally, Maritza, Martin and Deb have to leave!
Highlights Sallys assistance was wonderful. Martins
involvement was SO helpful and FUN! Im glad Deb and Martin could stay and be
with us today. Their advice, questioning and knowledge are useful.
Lowlights hearing Sally tell us that she had to leave tonight.
Highlights Facilitation of the "experts" with the teams.
Lowlights anxious to get going!
I feel good about where we are realizing that we have a lot to do. People are
Highlights I loved the time that I had to work in my group. I feel like I
have made progress, and I have a better idea of what we need to do.
I enjoyed parcticipating in another TEA activity that has allowed me to gain further
insight into teachers and teaching. Each time I go away with a few more ideas as to
how I can make my research more accessible and relevant to K-12 classrooms.
Time to work with our group was great. I think it was extremely helpful to have
feedback from the other groups. Im glad that we have 3 more days to get this
Good time frames enough time in the morning, and more than 30 minutes
per group for presentation in the afternoon was need to not feel rushed. Also, good to
hear what other groups are doing.
Day 4: Develop Inquiry
Rick and Katy started
the day with a review of their R/V Melville project with Dr. Robert Stern. More
information is available at http://www.utdallas.edu/dept/SciMathEd/melville (note SME are case sensitive).
Teams worked together (less the scientists) to develop inquiry activity
A working draft was handed in at the end of the day.
At 3:00 Dr. Jim Madson from the University of Wisconsin at River Falls presented a
Popcorn Activity and lecture about the AMANDA neutrino project and the possible
future ICE CUBE experiment.
There was a group picnic for AMANDA and TEA parcticipants organized by Steve
Closing Day Evaluation
A very hectic day. Nice to have lab equipment to test thought experiments. Process is slow, but I enjoy working with the group. It takes a lot of the edge off of the development process to have some extra minds.
Worktime rules! Things get done when there is time to work. The mid-afternoon AMANDA time was truly a nice added bonus. Thanks Steve.
Highlight - Getting going with our teams and our activity
Lowlights - The day being shorted (from the agenda) by other activities even though they were very good and enjoyable.
It's been great to be able to formalize our ideas and start getting them on paper. Picnic was good too.
Highlights - Making progress and I feel like I am getting things accomplished.
Lowlights - Trying to get our model to work.
I feel like we got a lot accomplished in our group. We still need some fine-tuning. The information on neutrinos was a lot to comprehend at the end of the day.
The popcorn "neutrino" activity was great, easily applicable to my classes (I wish I had seen it sooner!) Plenty of time for writing rough drafts, although we were busy the whole day. Picnic was great.
Highlights - shopping for and playing with the model/hook was as valuable to me as the rest of the process. As a teacher I want to know that the activity is do-able and what the pitfalls may be. Great barbecue stories from Kolene.
Lowlights - none. It was a good day.
Highlight - We got the work done and feel pretty good about our unit.
Lowlight - The template needs more explanation before we're thrown into it - but it worked out. There was a lot of trepidation in my group as to what went where. Same old thing with the e's causing fear and trembling.
Highlight - AMANDA talk and good group time.
Lowlight - Sticky weather!
Day 5: Edit Activity
Day 5 was edit day. Each individual was
given the three working drafts and asked for feedback. One of four formats, each
having been introduced prior to this task, were recommended: comparison with the
Inquiry Model; highlights and lowlights; comparison with the listing of
characteristics of positive instructional materials; and context mapping. Most chose
the Inquiry Model using these cues:
- Learners ENGAGED by the question
- Learners give priority to EVIDENCE, PREDICTION
- Learners FORMULATE EXPLANATION from evidence
- Learners EVALUATE explanation in light of alternative explanations
- Learners COMMUNICATE and JUSTIFY their explanations
After individuals prepared written comment, small groups were formed that
contained at least one individual from each of the three teams. This sharing was less
structured and violated some of the guiding statements from the GIVING AND
Team members then returned to the team room with the written comments to
prepare for a major edit.
Working draft II was handed in at the end of the day.
We reconvened to prepare a charting of general comments of TEA Activity
- The group process is slower
- There is an extra punch from new speakers such as AMANDA
- There is continual growth and improvement throughout the process vs. the
product and then the editorial board
- There is strength in numbers; a synergy
- The teams represent a variety of experiences, classrooms
- The outside research input is exceedingly beneficial
- There was a suggestion that next time TEA teachers give talks of the various
experiences and that if at a University, field trips be organized
Regarding the TEA Template
+ focus, guidelines
+ title important; subtitle
+ constructivist; inquiry
+ result in activities that are uniform in appearance
- some redundancy; less is more
Closing Day Evaluation
Highlight Good teams
Lowlights Of all the other days, which I thought were outstanding, this day
did not rate with the rest. I felt very forced to perform with little respect to our
involvement. I understand the time issue, but would have rather a more inclusive
approach. The "you will" approach was making me devalued. Be frank with what you
need from us. Good feedback from own team members. For evaluations we should
have gone from the individual to our group for discussion and then to the other
groups. It was TOO personal and feelings were tweaked.
Im cranky, 6 days of little respite, sleepy, not feeling too well, too much
coffee. I like my group meditating and meditating alone in our room. Group write is
hard not my style, but we did well. Theres so much more we could have
done on the subject More I want to do and will with my students in the natural
course (w/o writing it up). Of teaching this year, Ill send what works. Some of
my team members were insulted by the tone of the some of the feedback our work
received. I guess we all are allowed to get cranky and personal stuff like that (an
attack?) needs to be put into that bag "to understand all is to forgive all."
Highlight working along with my group when we were building upon our
Lowlight criticizing the inquiry activity individually Things have
been "team" to this point. Perhaps the feedback sessions would have been a more
positive experience for teams (no individual personality issues) if they had been
done in teams. One team to the next. As it was, it became a negative personal
experience for several people and overall not as useful because of this.
Highlight we continue to learn and make good progress on our activity
Lowlight realizing how difficult it is to produce a polished product in a
Highlight Im still impressed by how well our group is working
together. Even on a "grunt-work" day like today, we keep pushing forward. Madison
has proven to be an excellent place with enough choices to meet everyones
needs for down time.
Lowlight Its sometimes hard to keep the goal in sight on a workday
like this. It is hard for everybody to feel essential sometimes, but we all need to
remind ourselves that our input has contributed to the whole.
Very intense day. Lots of re-write, but we got a lot accomplished but still have a
long way to go.
We spent too much time today searching for materials. As a result, we had to work
too long into the evening. Our fault! The peer review session was beneficial. We got
some excellent tips from the other teachers.
Highlight I think we are well on our way to an activity that is pretty good.
It has taken lots of hard work.
Lowlight I wish we had more time. There are not enough hours in the
Day 6: Polish and Wrap-
Polish day. A near final draft was
submitted to the web site late Saturday.
Summary from Clarice Yentsch: "I believe that the Workshop was an excellent
professional development experience for all involved, teacher parcticipants, research
scientists and facilitators. We will need to postpone judgement on the products until
after they are final and tested."
Some "Next Time" Wishes
Logged Throughout the Workshop:
Each parcticipant bring a mug from own city, state to trade; recycle
Full day or half-day free for tourist activities or personal time
TEA talks during the Workshop share/exchange
When at a University or Museum, send an email prior with directory so that
contacts can be made (These are available on Web).
Import local kids for field testing activities as they are developing
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