Introduction to Modeling Instruction: a distance learning course offered by AMTA

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What are conceptual models? What is modeling? What is Modeling Instruction—what is it like for teachers? For students? How does it work? Why does it work? What (if anything) does it have to do with NGSS?

The American Modeling Teacher’s Association (AMTA) is an organization committed to providing research-based pedagogical training and resources to science teachers. Each year AMTA offers many two and three week-workshops to train teachers in the award-winning Modeling Instructional methods. While nothing could ever replace a face-to-face Modeling Workshop, AMTA recognizes many teachers cannot commit several weeks in the summer to professional development. In an attempt to meet the needs of their members, AMTA has developed a series of distance learning modules teachers can virtually attend without leaving their homes. AMTA’s Introduction to Modeling Instruction distance learning course will focus on the role of models and modeling in learning as it relates to teaching STEM content in both formal and informal contexts. Participants will review fundamental theories of thinking and learning and examine the latest theoretical trends.

This course delves into the cognitive underpinnings of Modeling Theory—learning about some of the seminal theories upon which it is based, engage in Modeling discourse and practice discourse management. We will explore how Modeling uncovers the spectrum of middle and high school science topics, exploring how the energy storage, transfer and conservation models are uncovered in the various disciplines, and discussing the fundamental models of each of these disciplines with expert Modelers from physics, chemistry, biology, and middle school science. This is not a Modeling Workshop, but by the end of the course participants will have a good grounding in model-based cognition and instruction, and a working knowledge of how Modeling Instruction unfolds in the middle and high school science classrooms.

Course Objectives

  1. Provide teachers with a thorough grounding in the theories in which Modeling Instruction is grounded and how it is situated within the NGSS.
  2. Familiarize teachers with the classroom practices of Modeling Instruction, the rationale for these practices, how and when they are used and what the expected outcomes are.
  3. Give teachers weekly opportunities (contextualized in physics, chemistry and biology) to experience Modeling strategies and, insofar as it is possible, to learn as students learn in a Modeling classroom.
  4. Provide teachers with an opportunity to use what they are learning about modeling Instruction to design an instructional sequence for science learning using models and modeling.
  5. Guide teachers in the use technology as a cognitive tool to support teaching and learning.
  6. Provide teachers with a forum to discuss their own efforts to implement Modeling Instruction and/or share insights into student thinking and learning in their own classrooms to whatever extent they are able.

There is no textbook: all readings and course materials will be provided electronically. Register Online, contact Wendy Hehemann at 480-854-4764 or

Publication information
Publication Date: 
Friday, December 14, 2018