Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Meeting 24- Wednesday, April 28: Authentic Inquiry and Preservice teachers

Today’s class started with students filling out class evaluations of the instructor, Professor Petrosino. After that was finished, Professor Petrosino led a discussion about the two articles that students read for today, Windschitl (2004) and Petrosino (2004). Professor Petrosino opened up a discussion about his article detailing how a teacher he observed in Tennessee, Mr. San Jacinto, was able to run a classroom as a real research group, in which the students contributed to ongoing work in astronomy with variable stars.

Next, students used the framework from the Windschitl article to assess the inquiry in their end-of-term projects individually. Then, they got together as a group to discuss various aspects of the inquiry they saw. Then, Professor Petrosino opened a discussion in which students reflected upon this framework for inquiry, and talk about the axis of the Windschitl, how it could be interpreted as moving from student–centered to teacher-generated, generative to cookbook, following Bloom’s taxonomy of higher-order to lower-thinking, or “constructivist” to “direct”.

Finally, class ended with Ms. Ekberg passing out a rubric for the final presentations and students being given a chance to work collectively or ask questions regarding their end-of-term projects.


Windschitl 2004 Inquiry

Picture: Dr. Mark Windschitl

Monday, April 26, 2010

Meeting 23- Monday April 26: Grant Writing

Ms. Ekberg started class by introducing the various parts involved with writing the grant for the End-of-Term Project. She gave a PowerPoint presentation with an overview of what is required in a grant, and how to think about and present this. One group of students from this course will be selected to have their projects actually funded, with each student in the group being promised $1000 towards their future schools in order implement this project in their first years of teaching.

Then, students were given time to work together in their groups on the project, as Ms. Ekberg and the other instructors checked-in to help out with each group’s questions. Students were discussing the various aspects of the End-of-Term Project due in the next week: the grant proposal, the rubric, the detailed calendar, final lesson plans, and formative assessments.

CheckList;Work Sheet


Thursday, April 15, 2010

AERA Presentation: Playing the Game of Story Problems: Situated Cognition in Algebra Problem-Solving

The following is research that will be present at the Annual American Educational Research Association Conference in Denver, Co in May, 2010.

Walkington, C., Sherman, M., & Petrosino, A. (2010, May). 'Playing the game'of story problems: Situated cognition in algebra problem-solving. Poster presentation at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Denver, CO.

Abstract: Several justifications have been presented in the literature for teaching mathematics in contexts relevant to students; first, embedding mathematics in relevant contexts may help students to apply what they learn in school to the real world. Second, using relevant contexts may provide a bridge between what students already understand and the content they are trying to learn. In the present study, we examine these justifications using algebra story problems on linear functions. In a series of 24 clinical interviews, students from a low-performing urban school were presented with algebra problems, some of which were personalized to the ways in which they described using mathematics in their everyday lives. We found that students rarely activated real world knowledge when solving all types of story problems, had consistent issues with verbal interpretation of stories, and engaged in non-coordinative reasoning where they bypassed the intermediate step of understanding the problem situation before trying to solve the problem. However, some students engaged in sophisticated situation-based reasoning, while others seemed to accept that a lack of sense-making was part of the larger system of school mathematics.

Class Meeting 20- April 14: Walkington Presentation-Story Problems vs PBI/Concept Mapping/End of Semester Project Planning

Today’s class started with a presentation by doctoral candidate Candace Walkington, who was also a former teaching assistant for the PBI course and now a professor at Colin Community College. Professor Walkington presented her current work exploring how high school Algebra I students respond to story problems. She found that students often disconnected their own prior knowledge to the mathematics at hand, and often “stopped thinking” when engaged in solving multiple choice problems.

For the second half of the class, Ms. Ekberg presented students with the various aspects of the end-of-course exam. She showed the parts of the website that contained all the documents that students would use, such as the Buck Institute planning framework and Anchor Video storyboard pages. Then she allowed students to get into their groups to discuss how they would work on the various aspects of the end-of-term project over the next few weeks.

Candace Walkington- Problems vs PBI

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Lecture: Approaching Curriculum and Instruction as Design: Melding scholarship and practice

Title: Approaching Curriculum and Instruction as Design: Melding scholarship and practice
When: Tuesday, April 13, 2010 10:00 AM-11:00 AM (GMT-06:00) Central Time (US & Canada).
Where: SZB Dean's Conference Room
Who: Dr. Ann McKenna- Northwestern University/National Science Foundation

In this talk I will present examples of my curricular development efforts in engineering design education and illustrate my aim to embed scholarship as a central component of curricular design. For example, while curricular development involves practical elements such as defining learning goals, identifying appropriate pedagogical approaches to meet the goals, and implementing ongoing assessment for iterative refinement, there are also fundamental questions that should be explored to inform this process. In particular, one of my research projects is investigating the role of disciplinary knowledge in the process of design. Using the adaptive expertise framework, with a specific focus on computational and analytical knowledge, this project is documenting the type of evidence students¹ use in the process of innovation. Specifically, I am exploring how students apply mathematical reasoning when developing design solutions, with an ultimate aim to better understand how the curriculum can support developing the type of computational skills that is a substantial part of the engineering profession. This talk will also present an overview of this research and describe some of the current findings.

Biography: Ann McKenna is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering as well as a Professor in the School of Education and Social Policy in the Learning Sciences (by courtesy). She holds undergraduate (BS) and graduate degrees (MS) in Mechanical Engineering as well as a PhD in Engineering Education from the University of California at Berkeley (Chair: Marcia Linn). McKenna's research interests center on understanding the cognitive and social processes of design teaching and learning; the role of adaptive expertise in engineering education; engineering faculty pedagogy and conceptions of teaching and learning; creativity and innovation in design/education; investigating institutional strategies and practices that contribute to recruiting and retaining female and underrepresented faculty and students in engineering. Related to both her teaching and research interests, Prof. McKenna is the Director of the Certificate in Engineering Design program in the Segal Design Institute and is co-founder and co-director of the Northwestern Center for Engineering Education Research (NCEER). In my opinion, McKenna has a solid STEM background, enjoys national status in engineering education, has worked extensively with engineers and had achieved a solid publication record. She is currently on leave from Northwestern and is serving as a rotator at the National Science Foundation.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Class Meeting 19- Anchored Instruction

Today’s class started with Professor Petrosino’s sharing a quick agenda for today, discussing the results of the UTeach Survey, finishing the discussion about Anchored Instruction, doing an activity based on a Jasper video, and then ending by talking about the final project.

Professor Petrosino had students watch an Adventures of Jasper Woodbury anchor video entitled, “Rescue at Boone’s Meadow.” As the video finished up, Professor Petrosino had students work in small groups of 3-4 students to answer the tasks presented by the anchor video:

-What is the quickest way to move the eagle from Boone’s Meadow to Cumberland City?

-How long will that take?

-And, how did you figure out the answer?

Students then worked in groups for about 10 minutes, actively talking about ways to solve the tasks. Then, Professor Petrosino then had students switch gears to think as teachers, analyzing their own conversations in terms of

1) Content Specific Discourse

2) Technology

3) Assessment

4) Motivation

After a quick discussion on what they noticed, the class watches a video about using the Jasper anchor videos in the classroom, specifically focusing on a specific classroom’s approach to using Jasper in a real classroom. Professor Petrosino then introduces the Jasper Analog videos, were companion problems that were used after students had solved the main problem. These Analog videos were used to develop expertise beyond just factual knowledge, building on conceptual and transfer knowledge as well.

Professor Petrosino then ended the talk on Anchored Instruction by passing out a literature review of studies that have used Anchored Instruction. Then, students were given a list of the TEKS standards covered by the Jasper video they just engaged with. Students can use these documents in their own planning and exploration of Anchored Instruction, and to justify the use of these videos within their own instruction since the TEKS standards covered are extremely exhaustive.

Finally, Professor Petrosino ends class by reminding students that on Wednesday, doctoral candidate Candace Walkington will give a short presentation on the importance of context in mathematics education. And, Professor Petrosino gives a short preview of how this work will come together for the final project, mentioning the deliverables that will be required.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Manor New Tech HS Not Using Textbooks

Below please view a recent broadcast of Manor New Tech High School in Manor TX. Manor New Tech uses Project Based Instruction as it's primary teaching pedagogy and many of it's mathematics and science teachers are graduates of the UTeach Program at the University of Texas at Austin and have taken this Project Based Instruction course. In addition, Manor New Tech is where our current students do their field experiences. The following story is from a local television affiliate. -Dr. Petrosino

Manor New Tech High School has already taken the idea and run with it. The high school is a public high school and has the same subjects like other high schools. However they do not use textbooks to teach kids the curriculum.

Every classroom has several computers that students use. They gather in groups of 2 to 4 to learn about a specific project that falls under requirements of the states standards.

"The main format here is project base learning," Manor School Superintendent Andrew Kim said. "So all of our instructions are through projects hands on activities that are front loaded to kids. Mainly our students have open access to various sites through the internet to gather info they need to create an answer to complex assignments."

Manor New Tech High School has been open for three years with zero drop outs. This year they will have their first graduating class, many moving on to four year universities.

Manor New Tech, built on the New Technology Foundation model of project-based learning, is strikingly different from what is found in traditional secondary education classroom settings. MNTHS student population is made up of applicants accepted through a blind lottery. As a result, the student population at MNTHS is diverse in all aspects, including the two largest subpopulations of young men and young women of color. Additionally, the project-based learning environment sets up an atmosphere where learning is student-driven, engaging, and meets the needs of a wide variety of academic abilities.

Updated: Wednesday, 07 Apr 2010, 10:31 PM CDT Published : Wednesday, 07 Apr 2010, 5:35 PM CDT

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Class Meeting 18- Wednesday, April 7: Anchored Instruction (cont) Contextualization/Design Priniciples

The first part of today’s class involved an activity to place the size of various objects along a line. From a football field that is 100 meters to the diameter of a hydrogen atom which is 1x10-10 meters. Students split into two groups. One group was given no hints, while the other group was reminded of their work on Monday in interpreting the Richter scale reports of Sunday’s earthquake. When the students presented their results, we found that the opposite of what we expected happened. In fact, the students who were told the hint about recalling the Richter scales, more often represented their data linearly, while the students who were NOT told the hint more often represented their data logarithmically.

Professor Petrosino then showed differences between the linear and logarithmic scales. He opened up discussion on logarithms, specifically we all learned about that at one point or another, but that information might not be as active as we would like. Students then talked about how we are trained to think or visualize things linearly, and how the group that was given the hint thought that because their experiments with the Richter scale on Monday ended up in messy understandings of logarithmic scales, that meant that they might want to show the data through a simpler linear scale.

Professor Delgado then linked this to the problems presented in the Bransford et al. (1990) articles and how this example showed how instruction that is anchored can changes how one approaches a problem. Students then engaged in a discussion about the Bransford et al. (1990) example, which Dan and Heather saw as just issues of semantics. Diane related it to her group’s field experience, about how hard it was to anchor something without giving a direct hint about what they wanted students to do in terms of finding the surface area and volume of an object.

Then, Professor Petrosino presented a paragraph of text that seemingly didn’t make a lot of sense. But after he uttered the phrase, “Doing laundry”, students seemed to understand the paragraph. Professor Petrosino connected this to the idea of activating/stimulating prior knowledge. The inability for students to create a mental model when reading the text makes them frustrated, but after the image of doing laundry is activiated, the paragraph makes more sense.

The procedure is actually quite simple. First you arrange things into different groups. Of course, one pile may be sufficient depending on how much there is to do. If you have to go somewhere else due to lack of facilities that is the next step, otherwise you are pretty well set. It is important not to overdo things. That is, it is better to do too few things at once than too many. In the short run this may not seem important bu complications can easily arise. A mistake can be expensive as well. At first the whole procedure will seem complicated. Soon, however, it will become just another facet of life. It is difficult to foresee any end to the necessity for this task in the immediate future, but then one never can tell, After the procedure is completed one arranges the materials into different groups again. Then they can be put into their appropriate places. Eventually they will be used once more and the whole cycle will then have to be repeated. However, that is part of life. (p. 722)

Bransford, J.D., & Johnson, M.K. (1972). Contextual prerequisites for understanding: Some investigations of comprehension and recall. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 11, 717-726.

Students ended the class by reflection on the design of the anchor instructional parts of the field experience. Students came together in their field-experience groups to talk about the design principles of their anchor videos, and how they might have or not met the 6 design principles. The Geometry group talks about their hypothetical anchor, since they did not get a chance to create their own project. And, the GeoGebra group discussed their anchor and ways in which it could it have been better. Before class ends, students get an Anchor Video rubric to talk about on Monday.

Jenny Chiu from the UC-Berkeley was a visitor to our class today.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Class Meeting 17- Monday April 5: Anchored Instruction Introduction

Today’s class introduced the idea of Anchor Instruction. Professor Petrosino started with looking at the differences between the initial reports of yesterday’s earthquake in Baja, Mexico with later reports. He showed news footage that initially reported an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.8 on the Richter scale, and then later footage that changed the magnitude to a 7.2 on the Richter scale. Students then worked in groups to try to understand what these differences in numbers actually meant. Professor Petrosino emphasized that the connect of mathematical thinking to real world events like this were crucial to empowering our students to be “informed citizens”. After students talked over their interpretations of the Richter scale, Professor Petrosino moved on and told students to wait until Wednesday to present their conversations.

For the next part of class, Professor Petrosino presented a slide show about Anchored Instruction. He introduced Anchored Instruction as a part of the PBL framework, connecting ideas with how to create Anchored Videos with the Bransford et al. article (1990) . Then, Professor Petrosino brought up some background history of the project mentioned in the Bransford et al. article and how the researchers were unable to obtain rights to using footage from Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. So, Bransford and his team created their own video called “The Golden Statuette” which eventually led to the Jasper series of videos. Professor Petrosino showed these videos to students to they could see not only the difference in production value, but how ideas in science, mathematics, and pedagogy could be infused into Anchor Videos


Bransford, J., Sherwood, R., Hasselbring, T., Kinzer, C., & Williams, S. (1990). Anchored instruction: Why we need it and how technology can help. Cognition, education, and multimedia: Exploring ideas in high technology, 115-141.

Anchored Instruction 2010

Picture: Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt- Fall 1990