I was taught science by transmission. The content information was provided and I did my best to make sense of it. If some of the material didn’t make sense, I could just memorize it for the test. As a new teacher in the late 1980’s, I wanted to offer my students more. Now, as a 20+ year veteran, I am still working to perfect my methods to develop deep conceptual thinkers. I have used inquiry and questioning techniques that have led to significant gains. Students have been more engaged and have scored better on conceptual test questions. Now, I am in the middle of my first year of using the chemistry Modeling™ curriculum and am happy to report, that the curriculum maintains that level of success, but the order and emphasis of some of the early course topics also allows for evidence that students can cite in their explanations of content that I have not previously had success teaching. Spending significantly more time than I had previously, covering conservation of mass, Dalton’s principles, Avogadro’s hypothesis and other material (that is only touched on in modern texts) has led to what seems to be a deeper understanding of compound formulas, balancing, mole ratios and stoichiometry. I am anxious to test my students at the end of the year to see if my perceived gains match actual test results. I am using the curriculum along with the other chemistry teacher in my district. I hope that our biology and physics teachers will join us. I expect that students will benefit from a consistent approach.
The Modeling™ curriculum emphasizes modeling, collecting evidence, scientific discourse and development of conceptual understanding. All of these can be linked to AP and NGSS standards. If you are looking to make improvements in your curriculum and gain some impressive strategies, consider enrolling in a workshop this summer. There are many workshops scheduled around the country during the summer. A full curriculum and support materials are provided.
Second semester workshops are not offered every summer, so if you have attended initial training and are hungry for more, you will want to take advantage of the opportunity in June. According to Wendy Hehemann, the American Modeling Teachers Association (AMTA) Workshop and Outreach coordinator, “the AMTA is working on sustainability for the community and are encouraging people who have taken two or more Modeling™ workshops to think about perhaps becoming a Modeling™ workshop leader themselves. Aside from having taken at least two Modeling™ workshops, participants have to have used Modeling™ Instruction in their classroom for several years and have recommendations of their leaders. For chemistry teachers who already took a workshop, it would be beneficial if their colleagues, any or all science teachers, also would take Modeling™ workshops. This way they can work well together, grow in the pedagogy and even develop their own curriculum and lessons.”
Chemistry Workshops are scheduled in the following states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York City, Ohio.