Monday, March 29, 2010

Class Meeting 15 Monday, March 29: Debriefing About Field Experiences

Today’s course was mainly a debriefing on how the field-based experiences have gone for the students at Manor New Tech High. Almost all students have had the opportunity to start on their field-based Projects, so today was a way for students to check-in with each other as well as the instructors. Additionally, the Biology and the Geogebra groups completed a field trip on Saturday.

First, students broke up into groups of 3 to 4 with someone they co-taught with. Students were prompted with the question, “What have you been thinking?” in order to give them space to talk about things. After talking to each other for 15 minutes, Ms. Ekberg took up specific comments from each group about what they were thinking. Students mainly reflected on issues in scheduling their placements and communication between group members.

Then, students engaged in a more scaffolded reflection piece to think about their field experiences related more to content and the PBL-framework. Building a 3-column chart of Positives, Delta (changes), and Takeaways, students individually reflected on 4 ideas: A. Discipline/Deportment, B. Content/Processes for you, C. Content/Processes for your students, and D. Connections to the PBL framework. Teddy Chao then took up ideas from this reflection, which showed that students had many takeaways that dealt with Discipline/Deportment and Content/Processes, but were still struggling with ways in which to connect student learning of the content to their projects and the PBL framework.

Class then ended with Professor Petrosino introducing a formal reflection activity that students will turn in on April 9.

During the course of the class Ms. Ekberg, Dr. Delgado, Teddy Chao, and Dr. Petrosino all took over leadership roles in terms of leading discussion.

Picture: Field trip to the Blanton, Saturday March 27, 2010

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Day 2 of UTeach Institute PBI Workshop/Field Based Experience at Blanton Museum and McKinney Falls

Today, some of our student teachers took their high school students from Manor New Tech High School on two field trips that serve as culminating events for Projects. Only the Biology groups and Geogebra groups had a field trip component built into their Projects. Yet students who were neither enrolled in Biology nor Geogebra volunteered to come along on the field trips.

The Biology group took their students to McKinney Falls State Park. Since this Project involves the growing conditions necessary for growing native Texas rice, high school students were able test out take the various experiments and hypothesis they’ve generated in class in an outdoor setting. This trip was heavily coordinated and planned by Ms. Ekberg, the master teacher.

The Geogebra group took their students to the Blanton Museum of Art. Their Project involved creating a mathematical language to describe specific works of art in order to thwart art thieves. Geogebra students worked in groups to tour the museum and build mathematical descriptions of pre-chosen works of art. Matthew Chalker, one of the Teaching Assistants for the course, coordinated and planned this experience for the students.

Overall, the trip was well attended by Manor New Tech students, parents, and teachers, PBI students, instructors, as well as a number of visitors in town to learn more about the PBI course for UTeach replication sites. Because of this, the ratio of adult to student sometimes seemed 1-to-1, making the overall experience of the trip very engaging for students. On Monday, the two PBI sections will come together to debrief on the field trip.

Day 1 of UTeach Institute PBI Workshop

On Friday, March 26 a workshop on the UTeach course Project Based Instruction was conducted on the campus of The University of Texas at Austin. Over 25 educators from UTeach Replication sites visited the university for a 2 day work shop led by Ms. Denise Ekberg, Dr. Cesar Delgado and Dr. Tony Petrosino. An incredible amount of coordination was done by the UTeach Institute to make the visit a success.

An agenda was previously published on this website a few days ago. However, a brief summary of the day follows:

1) Opening Remarks
2) Modeling the reading of a difficult article by current UTeach students. In this case, Krajcik and Blumenfeld (2006) on PBI
3) Course overview, philosophy and key points
4) Presentation of Year End Project by former PBI students
5) Technology resources for PBI
6) General Questions and Answers
7) Overview of Replication efforts for PBI

See PowerPoints that were presented at the end of this post.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

McKinney Falls Field Component- March 27, 2010

On Saturday, March 27, 2010, UTeach Project-Based Instruction pre-service teachers took 9th grade biology students from Manor New Tech High to McKinney Falls State Park. Students collected data for their 2-week long project on designing a sanctuary for an endangered species: Texas Wild Rice (Zizania texana). The driving question for the field experience was: “Could McKinney Falls State Park be a suitable habitat for a Texas Wild Rice sanctuary?” A team of seven PBI pre-service teachers worked together to design the project. In the field, they divided into four sub-teams in the morning and four different sub-teams in the afternoon in order to collect data in different places at McKinney Falls. The teams were observed by a PBI professor, a PBI master teacher, other UTeach master teachers, and participants in a PBI Workshop (which included professors, instructors, and master teachers from other universities that are replicating the UTeach Program).

The students were involved in deciding where would be good places to collect data. When the students agreed upon a location, they documented latitude and longitude, described the shoreline, characterized the substrate, measured the streamflow, and conducted a variety of water quality assessments (including temperature, pH, Nitrate, dissolved oxygen, and a bioassessment of macroinvertebrates). They also compared and contrasted different types of plants and their adaptations to their ecological niches, described how different plant tissues perform different functions, discussed how Carbon and Nitrogen cycle through the ecosystem, and predicted how ecosystems may respond to changing resource bases (such as the effects of the introduction of a new organism or a shift in other parameters). After collecting data, each team presented their findings. They determined that McKinney Falls does not provide a suitable habitat for Texas Wild Rice.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Field Based Observation Documents

The following documents were created by Denise Ekberg and are being utilized as observations documents for the field based component of the course- specifically for the week following Spring Break.

Class Meeting 14: Wed March 10, 2010 Preparation for Field Based Teaching

Today in class we reviewed various units that are under development for the field based work for the week after Spring Break. One of our largest groups is one focusing on Geoalgebra. We use the Blanton Museum as a way of integrating art and geometry. We take students to the museum and ask them to see if they can find ways of utilizing mathematics into their field visit to an art museum. The attached picture is hopefully some evidence that I have paid attention to our resident expert on the topic.

There will be on classes on March 15 and 17 due to Spring Break.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

PBI UTeach Institute Workshop March 26-27

Here is the agenda for the upcoming Project-Based Instruction course workshop March 26 - 27 here in Austin.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Class Meeting 13: Mon March 8, 2010 Formative Assessment

Today, Ms. Ekberg starts the first part of the class by explaining what will happen this coming Wednesday. The Geogebra people will meet here in the Sanchez building, while the Biology, Chemistry, and Physics students will be meeting in Painter 4.14. Also, after class, there will be an opportunity to visit the Blanton Museum of Art for Geogebra students who might want to look through the artwork again.

Ms. Ekberg then presented a PowerPoint presentation on the purpose of formative assessment. Students got into their project groups to come up with three specific purposes of assessment. First, students worked in their individual groups for 10 minutes, then Ms. Ekberg pulled the whole group together to come up with fill in 2 categories she wrote on the board: Purpose (why?) and Technique (How?). As students shared their answers, Ms. Ekberg started to ask what the difference between summative and formative assessment might be. In order to help student better understand how to think of the differences between summative and formative, Ms. Ekberg changed the word “Formative” to “InFormative”.

Ms. Ekberg then introduced students to various assessment techniques, such as KWL charts, minute papers/muddiest points, concept maps, Problem/Process/Solution charts, student-generated test-questions based on incorrect student answers as distracters, and peer-evaluations. Ms. Ekberg explained Manor New Tech HS uses Know/Need to Know charts when introducing a problem, instead of KWL charts.

For second part of class, two student groups present their planning documents to the class. Ms. Ekberg discusses the use of peer-evaluation and how to generate and use rubrics, introducing tools such as Rubistar. She offers students 15 minutes to do some group planning, but the Geometry group is ready to present. So, Ms. Ekberg passes out rubrics for the class (yellow colored-ones for instructor/TA), so that everyone can offers feedback to the groups.

The geometry group is in the midst of a survivor game. The present their project which involves a flat piece of cardboard in which students compete for how much water they can carry with the water. Then, the Geoalgebra group presents on their project, which involves describing pieces of art from their Blanton Museum of Art field trip using mathematical language. Students and instructors fill out their rubrics to offer feedback to the groups before the class ends.


Saturday, March 6, 2010

March 6- Engineering Curriculum Meeting/Pickle Research Center

On Saturday March 6- a number of people met at the Pickle Research Center (PRC) to work on the high school engineering curriculum project. The curriculum project is a part of the UTeach Engineering MSP grant funded by NSF. Dr. Petrosino attended the meeting and investigated some opportunities for incorporating engineering into the undergraduate sequence of College of Education courses (Knowing and Learning, Classroom Interactions, Project Based Instruction). Topics today centered on Robotics and Reverse Engineering.

The list of participants at the meeting and who made contributions to discussions on curriculum and incorporation of engineering into UTeach undergraduate courses included:

Audrey Moyers, McCallum HS, MASEE student
Nicole Howard, Reagan HS, MASEE student
Mark Barron, Eastside Memorial Green Tech, ESIT participant
Mike Evans, Bowie HS, ESIT participant, 2010 MASEE applicant
Martha Lee, AISD Secondary Science Coordinator
Theresa Dobbs, Sr. Program Coordinator, UTeach Engineering
Bill Humphries, Master Teacher/Research Fellow UTeach Engineering
Dave Allen, PI UTeach Engineering
Tony Petrosino, Co-PI UTeach Engineering

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Class Meeting 12- Wed March 3: Learning Performances

Today’s class involved several activities. First, Professor Delgado opened up a discussion about Learning Performances, specifically referencing the Krajcik, McNeill, and Reiser (2007) article. He situated the concept by passes out a chart about Learning Performances the Krajcik & Czerniak book, p. 435-436. Then, students worked in groups on an activity to classify one of the following specific learning performances according to the criteria of the chart. The learning performances were:

1) Differentiate between object A, object B.

2) List the steps to solve a problem using completing the square.

3) Conduct an experiment to test D.

4) Make your own altimeter to observe E.

5) Make inferences from data.

6) Model phenomena too small to see.

After all groups shared their thinking process with the whole class, Professor Delgado and Teddy, the TA, further opened up discussion about how Learning Performances are connected to the ideas, thoughts, and bigger pictures ideas separated from content that students think about as they unpacked the standards. Professor Petrosino then talked about moving through the various learning performances, and how within the hierarchy of things like Bloom’s Taxonomy and the Krajcik & Czerniak chart about while factual knowledge is important, it is not sufficient.

The class then transitioned to another activity as Ms. Ekberg opened up discussion about the Field-Component Project Launch. She went through various slides about how students could seed their launches, showing examples of a letter, a PowerPoint slideshow, a story, or a video. Students then spent the remainder of the class working in their project groups to put their launch together.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Class Meeting 11: Mon March 1, 2010 Concept Maps

Professor Petrosino started today’s class with a PowerPoint presentation on the nature of concept maps. He started by drawing analogies of the mind to a computer, and mentioned several key concepts in cognitive science that inform how educators think about learning. He challenged students to think about their semantic memory, their working, memory, their short-term memory, and how they are able to interact with their memories.

Professor Petrosino then passed out a list of 15 Propositional Statements concerning the phenomena of Seasonal Change. These were propositions such as, “Amount of sunlight is determined by the length of day” and “Height of sun over horizon is determined by 23.5 axis tilt.” Student were then given 15 minutes to work either individually or in groups to create a concept map based on these propositional statements. The concept maps were created with paper and pencil, as Professor Petrosino explicitly wanted students to struggle with creating concept maps by hand first, before learning to use concept mapping software.

When students had constructed their maps, Professor Petrosino picked three of them to share their maps with the class. With each map, the class engaged in discussion about the characteristics of the map. Professor Petrosino then presented multiple concept maps based on the same propositions, showcasing the variation and consistency found in all the maps.

Before class ended, Professor Petrosino introduced the idea of a content map, which looks very similar to a concept map, but involves a very different form of thinking. He presented an example of a content map that covered Describing Change in Proportional Reasoning, taken from the AAAS Atlas of Science Literacy (

PBI Concepts Maps