The second year modeling workshop has been over for three days now. I’m rested, catching up on yard work and getting ready for the next trip. So, did I learn anything useful? Was it worth it? Would I recommend it to others? Yes, yes and absolutely.
Did I learn anything useful? – I learned a lot during this workshop. First, the more focused on your field/passions/interests that your professional development is, the more useful and meaningful it will be to you. While I can appreciate the big, whole-school, day-long workshops, it’s difficult to address the concerns of a primary music teacher, middle school math teacher and upper school Spanish teacher all at the same time. If you can manage it, get your school to devote some of its PD dollars and meeting times to targeting specific groups (e.g. grade level, subject, tech).
More specifically on the modeling front, I learned how to unshackle myself from the Big Red Binder (aka the 1st year modeling curriculum from ASU). The first year sets participants up with a wide array of units of study, including labs, teacher notes and assessments. But after you’ve used modeling for a while, you want to go beyond that initial curriculum. My AP Physics C class hasn’t been where I wanted it to be, and part of the reason is because I didn’t know how to create my own modeling unit for the topics we were studying. The 2nd Year workshop helped me to understand the nature of the modeling cycle and the narrative flow that carries the class from development of the model to deployment in a variety of ways. Constructing our own unit, as well as being students for the five other groups in the workshop, showed me the many forms that modeling can take while still maintaining the same important structure.
Was it worth it? – Hells yes! Spending three weeks working intensely with colleagues that care enough to give up three weeks of their own summer just to be better at their job is pretty rewarding. When is the last time you participated in a PD opportunity where everyone wanted to be there? And, when you made that nerdy physics pun, everyone got it and laughed? And to see what these people created and to get their feedback on your own work was an opportunity not to be missed. But rather than speak in generalities, let me show you what everyone did:
Or if you want them all, here’s a link to the entire collection.
Feel free to peruse the files, use what you want and modify what you can. Everyone was happy to share their work and some folks even included contact info in case future users had questions. (Update: I forgot to mention that these units have not been tested in a classroom yet, so please consider that when looking over them.)
While everything was great, I should be fair and discuss pitfalls in case someone reading this is thinking of attending the second year. The only bad part about the workshop is being away from home for three weeks. Okay, the unending stream of lunchmeat wasn’t the best either, but at least it was free. Since the workshop was held in central Ohio, it means that I had to stay in Columbus each week. Being away from your family and home that long can take its toll if you aren’t used to it. However, if you’re lucky enough to live close to a workshop then you’re only looking at a small commute. If you’ve done the first year though, you probably already know this.
Would I recommend it to others? – Anyone that has taken the first year workshop should absolutely take the second year. It will strengthen you as a modeler and give you an opportunity to get feedback on your work from other teachers who use modeling instruction. Make the time to attend.
If by chance, you just can’t get enough reading about modeling workshops, check out the running posts over at Salt the Oats from a 1st year participant. The level of detail in his posts is amazing.