Literacy and Models and VCEEE’s…the Whirlwind Continues!

First off, happy birthday to Alanna!  Although it still remains a mystery, it seems like the consensus is that the picture is of someone jumping out of the cake:

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A second recognition goes out to Ryan as well for providing us with a seriously awesome spread of food.  Seriously.  Awesome.  He really set the bar high, even though there seems to be a debate about Single Stuf vs. Double Stuf Oreos.  I hope we can make this work.

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Anyway, our second night together got off to a rockin’ start as we continued our tradition of adding thoughts to the “Topic of the Day” board.  Tonight’s prompt was “Science is…” and the cohort (plus guests) added in a wide variety of thoughts.  I was impressed with the diversity of the answers, yet all of them seemed to get at the notion that science is a way of thinking, knowing, or doing and inspired a sense of curiosity or wonder.  These sentiments were echoed later during the group discussion as well, which was truly a pleasure to be involved in.

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In order to continue building our classroom culture (see Mike’s previous post), we engaged in the “Challenge of the Day” – that is, could we diagram the location and name of each member of the class and also make sure to remember something specific about each person?  The result was a resounding “Yes!” as everyone successfully navigated through the challenge.  While this builds our own classroom culture, it is something that new teachers should be thinking about as well – how will you establish norms, practices, and ways of thinking/doing in your own classroom?  How will students have a voice in your classroom culture?  How will they feel valued?

In order to give cohort members an idea of what’s to come for the end of the course (planning with the end in mind – UbD?!?!) we engaged in a fishbowl activity to demonstrate the practice of Collaborative Conversations.  This is a highly structured means of having a productive conversation (exploring ventures and vexations) about a particular topic in education.  Scott, Jodi, and Chris (GRS alum) took us through an adventure of diagramming in the science classroom so cohort members could see and understand how a Collaborative Conversation session works.  Hopefully nobody got too nervous for the end of the course!  Here are some pictures from Scott’s work as well as one of Alanna desperately trying to get out of the picture:

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After entertaining only a few questions about the syllabus/UbD, we moved into the reading discussion.  As a group, there were many positives regarding the VCEEE’s including:

  • everyone met the deadline
  • everyone keyed in on important vocabulary
  • the concepts were varied, interesting, and captured the essence of the readings
  • naming conventions were solid

A few things that we thought we could work on as we continue through the VCEEE process (this is a first time for the instructors too!):

  • The evidence/examples/explanations section may be stronger with proper citations as well as blending ideas from the reading with personal connections and questions raised by the readings
  • Mike and Sean may not be able to provide immediate feedback since they teach during the day

It was a great first stab at the VCEEE’s that led to a very rich discussion regarding the Nature of Science and the implications of this on teaching and learning.  Of course, we held our traditional protocol (again, see Mike’s previous post) which led to a rich dialogue where everyone got to participate, it was a “judgment-free” zone, and people’s names were being used to connect thoughts and ideas.  By the end, it seemed agreed upon that science is tentative, ever changing, and collaborative.  Moreover, it goes beyond facts and seeks to engage its participants in understanding.  Blogging seems to be a space where people can develop their scientific identities and provides agency as well as a way to connect to other people.

To connect the notions of scientific literacy and perspective, Jo Ann read us the story Fish is Fish and asked us to draw what we thought the fish was seeing at several different stopping points.  We compared our fish to the illustrations from the book and what do you know? – we all had different ideas!  Collectively, these differences in perception can be a powerful tool in scientific literacy and underscore the importance of being able to engage in multiple viewpoints in science (and beyond)!  Below are some shots of cohort members checking out their work and also allowing me to take photos with the justification of “do it for the blog” (similar to “Do it for the Vine” – check this phenomenon out on YouTube if you haven’t heard of it already):

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Jo Ann also led us through a brief rundown of where we’ll be meeting next class: the boathouse at Genesee Valley Park.  Dress accordingly!  If anyone has any questions, check the syllabus and don’t hesitate to ask!

To bridge the gap between literacy and modeling (next class’ readings), we got right into Model Mania!  Cohort members shared their own views of modeling and the purposes of each.  Mike collected our ideas in a “whip-around” format.

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Then, we got going into making some models ourselves.  First, we drew some notions of what the water cycle looked like.  Mine was blank, because I’m a biologist but there were many kickin’ models out there.  Next, we crumpled some paper and drew some lines on the crests before falling victim to “Hurricane Sean” and “Tropical Storm Mike” – the markers ran off into the valleys and cohort members predicted what this was able to show.  Lastly, cohort members made models of drainage basins using Play-Doh (food for thought – Play-Doh is great for modeling in the classroom – how will you use it?)

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We closed class by reflecting on the Nature of Science, practices that could get “stolen” and ideas about models shared by a peer.  It was another great day to be a part of GRS and got us into the messy business of science, literacy, modeling, and the intersection of all of them.  One week in the books!  I’m already looking forward to next week.


Next up is…Ryan!



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2 thoughts on “Literacy and Models and VCEEE’s…the Whirlwind Continues!

  1. How would you all feel if I stole some photos from these blogs to put on my personal Facebook, crediting whoever took them? Is that ok? I’ve had a lot of people encouraging me through this journey, and I’d love to show what we do. Classmates can tag themselves if they want. I’ll leave that up to you. Any opposition? I already posted the photo of the entire cohort, because I am excited to be going through this experience together.

    (I know that I could just put a link to this blog, but, for various reasons, I don’t want to give it to so many people.)

  2. Just wanted to add a bit more about Collaborative Conversations: Seeking the Science in Our City… on June 24, you will be presenting your Investigation to community stakeholders. Where do we see Science in our City? What does it look like? Why does it matter? How can we help learners see Science in their City? These are some of the questions you will be wrestling with while you explore along the Genesee River. You will design and do an investigation prompted by your noticings and wonderings as you explore.

    Scott and the Collaborators (April, Chris, Jodi, Mike, Sean) did an exemplary job of modeling the process. Scott first gave his “elevator pitch”, a brief, but enticing idea of his talk, with an invitation to hear more at his table. He introduced himself and asked the Collaborators to do the same. He asked for volunteers: a facilitator, Jodi; a time keeper, Chris. Scott then began his 6 minute talk. Key elements that kept the participants engaged: a clear statement of the work that he did and the rationale for doing so; an interactive piece that engaged the participants in his work; handouts (take aways) with examples of the types of practices that he used; student work.
    Jodi, the facilitator asked for clarifying questions and reminded to hold other comments for later. Jodi made sure that everyone got a chance to speak, inviting Sean into the conversation when she noted that he had the opportunity to talk. Scott got to answer the clarifying questions.
    For the next 6 minutes, Scott listened and took notes as the Collaborators discussed his work; gave their ideas and interpretations.
    Finally, Scott thanked the Collaborators and summarizes their conversation.
    Scott closed by stating that he had many good ideas for further implementing the practice of having students “draw conclusions” as a closure activity.

    Some of those suggestions:
    Chris-share attributes of good diagrams such as labels, and showing the hidden aspects; also to scaffold the task, include vocabulary words that must be used in the drawing and to ask for a sentence or two explaining the concept seen in the diagram.
    Mike-suggested that to avoid the “kangaroo flying a kite” drawings, to have an open-ended prompt, but be explicit about the criteria. He also suggested using student diagrams on quizzes and tests.
    Jodi-said to try matching up students to look at each other’s works; choosing the match-ups purposefully; she also suggested that Scott let his students revisit and revise their diagrams; and for him to show his students how their diagrams changed over time.
    Sean-said to give a rubric that would help the learners think about their work
    and how best to do it
    April-thought it might be interesting to have students make connections or link what they drew to text they read and vice versa; she added on to Jodi’s idea of looking at the work over time and suggested students narrate how their work changed over time.

    So, you had a great exemplar of Collaborative Conversation, next up… Seeking the Science along our River; designing and doing your own investigation; then presenting your work at a CC. Sounds easy, right? 🙂

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