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Name: Intro to Modeling Instruction for Virginia science teachers
School/Institution: James Madison University
Department/Unit: Content Teaching Academy (CTA)
City: Harrisonburg
State: VA
Opportunity Type: Modeling Workshop
Teacher Status: Inservice
Teacher Level: High School
Description: Four concurrent 5-day summer courses focused on physics (mechanics), physical science, chemistry, and biology will introduce Modeling Instruction to high school teachers of the respective subject. Open only to Virginia teachers (public and private).  These are not full-fledged Modeling Workshops, but are introductions to modeling pedagogy.

Modeling Instruction is a complex transformative pedagogy. Experience has shown that most teachers require at least three weeks (90 contact hours) of intensive workshop to begin to implement it.

Goals of a 3-week Modeling Workshop
The Modeling Workshop in mechanics is an intensive 3-week course with these goals:
1. educate teachers in use of a model-centered, guided inquiry method of teaching and at the same time improve their content knowledge,
2. help participants integrate computer courseware effectively into the science curriculum,
3. help teachers make better use of national resources for science education,
4. establish electronic network support and a learning community among participants,
5. strengthen local institutional support for participants as school leaders in disseminating standards-based reform in science education.

Objectives of a 3-week Modeling Workshop
The main objective of the Modeling Workshop in mechanics is to acquaint teachers with all aspects of the modeling method and develop some skill in implementing it. To that end, teachers are provided with a fairly complete set of written course materials to support instruction organized into coherent modeling cycles (as described in Wells et al., 1995). The physical materials and experiments are simple and quite standard, already available in any reasonably equipped physics classroom.

Each participant will design and carry out a series of investigations that use the Modeling Method. They will practice Socratic questioning techniques that will enable them to foster scientific discourse among students. They will develop skills in authentic assessment. Each participant will keep a daily journal book of problems solved, labs done, personal notes and reactions to activities and readings, and expected student difficulties with ways to address them.Throughout the course, teachers will be asked to reflect on their practice and how they might apply the techniques they have learned in the course to their own classes.

Peer leaders:
  mechanics: Joseph Mahler, John Makous
  physical science: Jason Lonon, Tim Couillard
  chemistry: Janet Wells, Michelle Sebastian
  biology: Angela Gard and Derek Wagler

Location: James Madison University

Schedule of the 5-day course in mechanics:
• Training will start with a one-week workshop at JMU's CTA from June 24 - 28, 2013, to introduce participants to Modeling Instruction and use it to teach kinematics and basic dynamics.
• Two Saturday follow-up sessions at St. Catherine's School: one in fall and one in spring. These sessions will provide support to participants in implementing Modeling Instruction, as well as focus on how to use Modeling Instruction to teach linear forces and circular motion.
• It is hoped that training will continue with a one-week workshop at JMU's CTA in June 2014. The focus is on how to use the modeling method of instruction to teach momentum and energy.

For questions about the workshop, and if you would like to participate, please e-mail Joe Mahler:

Click here to learn more about the Modeling Instruction Program and the American Modeling Teachers Association (AMTA) or visit to find information on Modeling Workshops nationwide and strategies to seek funding (if needed) to participate.
Start Date: 06/24/2013
End Date: 06/28/2013
Duration: 1 week in June +  2 Saturday follow-ups in school year
Application Deadline: 01/01/2013
Opportunity Website:
Application Link: forthcoming
Sponsor Link:

Benefits and Requirements

Cost: Free
Benefits: Housing
Professional Development/CEU
College Transcript Credit
Benefit Explanation: • Registration fees, lodging, and food will be FREE. Participants will stay in a dorm at JMU and have a meal plan to eat in the award-winning dining hall.
• Participants will probably be reimbursed for travel.

Graduate credit can probably be earned through James Madison University.
Virginia Instructors of Physics (VIP) will issue renewal credit for follow-up sessions.

This is a collaborative effort of the DOE, VIP, Virginia Advanced Studies Strategies, and James Madison University, with support by the American Modeling Teachers Assn (AMTA).
Other Prerequisites: 2 semesters of college physics is highly recommended.

Professional Development Opportunity Contact Information

Contact: Joe Mahler
Science Dept, St. Catherine's High School
Richmond, VA