Modeling Workshops for High School Teachers

Workshop Leaders

  • David Kirkpatrick - Physics Teacher, Miami Coral Park Senior HS
  • Russell Harcha - Chemistry Teacher, Miami Killian Senior HS
  • JC Catala - Physics Teacher, Miami Lakes Educational Center
  • Robin Hori – Physics Teacher, Miami Country Day HS

The high school community built by CHEPREO is centered around bringing excellent pedagogy to the classroom and high-energy physics outreach to students and teachers. This combination provides teachers with techniques for everyday classroom instruction as well as added activities that build excitement for the future. The physics Modeling method developed by Hestenes [Hestenes 1987] has been used as the pedagogic standard in CHEPREO. Modeling was chosen due to its well-documented success in high school classrooms, its student-as-scientist structure, and its community-building nature both for teachers and students. Modeling also provides an ideal environment for traditionally under-represented minorities and women to succeed, with its student-centric approach, group work, and supportive faculty. Our experiences with modeling have shown it to be an excellent choice, as evidenced by student performance, community building, and recruitment.

A teacher’s induction into the community begins with a summer workshop in modeling or QuarkNet. We have offered two three-week long summer modeling workshops each year for the past five years, offering one mechanics and one advanced (either electricity & magnetism or models of light) over the past four years. A two-week QuarkNet workshop was offered in 2004 for our associate teachers. In the future, we will operate the CHEPREO Institutes as the QuarkNet workshop / introduction to particle physics. The community building continues after the workshops, as teachers meet on a regular basis, roughly every three weeks during the school year.

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Community Diagram of Miami Dade County Teacher Participation

A total of 91 teachers have attended the summer workshops, 77 of which are local teachers and 29 of which returned for two or more workshops. These workshops are led by high school teachers trained as modeling leaders by the Hestenes group. However, in 2007, we stepped up our efforts to build expertise at the local level by including four local leaders (two for each workshop) that worked with the Hestenes trained leaders to prepare and implement the workshops. These local leaders are continuing to work with the CHEPREO group in future modeling instruction workshops and will also work for change within the broader South Florida science teacher community to encourage reform.

A diagram of the teacher participation for all teachers trained in Miami-Dade county (both public and private) is shown in Figure C.2. Each bubble represents a teacher from a particular school at the time of the workshop. Also included are local workshop leaders, and FIU-trained teachers.