Program: Wheaton Warrenville South Modeling Workshops

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Programs: Wheaton Warrenville South Modeling Workshops


These workshops are offered by Wheaton Warrenville South High School for physics, chemistry, and biology teachers nationwide who want to create student-centered, active-inquiry classrooms. The workshops are taught using the pedagogy of Modeling Instruction, which was developed at Arizona State University. Content for a semester is reorganized around basic models to increase its structural coherence. Participants are supplied with a complete set of course materials (resources) and work through the activities alternately in the roles of student and teacher. (Because these workshops are not offered by Fermilab, they are not eligible for scholarships through Fermilab Friends for Science Education.)

The Modeling Method is introduced as a systematic approach to the design of curriculum and instruction. The name Modeling Instruction expresses an emphasis on making and using conceptual models of physical phenomena as central to learning and doing science. Using models and modeling in science education is recommended by NSES and AAAS Project 2061. Modeling Instruction is aligned with all eight scientific practices of the National Research Council Framework for K-12 Science Education (2011).

Student activities are organized into modeling cycles that engage students systematically in all aspects of modeling. (Specifics of the modeling cycle are here.) The teacher guides students through each modeling cycle, with an eye to improving the quality of student discourse by insisting on accurate use of scientific terms, on clarity and cogency of expressed ideas and arguments. After a few cycles, students gain skill at conducting scientific investigations without excessive prompting from the teacher. The main job of the teacher is then to supply them with more powerful modeling tools. Lecturing is restricted to scaffolding new concepts and principles on a need basis.


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