Summer Fun – Modeling Chemistry Workshop!

summerThink back to your childhood when you couldn’t wait for school to end so that you could start off on some great adventure – summer camp, visiting family, a trip to a new place, or even just days and days of free time.  This summer I was just as excited as I had been as a little girl because right after school ended I got to go to the Modeling Chemistry Workshop I had been wanting to go to for the last three years!

You may be thinking, “Hmmm… I thought she had already been teaching using the Modeling Chemistry curriculum.”  That’s right I have been.  I went to a Modeling Physics class (by accident – well, the class was on purpose, but I hadn’t even heard of Modeling) and just knew I could no longer teach using my traditional methods.  So in the last few weeks of my summer in 2010, I committed to turning everything upside-down and teaching using the Modeling method.  I have to say, the Modeling Chemistry materials make this fairly easy (or at least possible) and I had seen Modeling in action in the physics class.  But I always wanted to go to a Modeling Chemistry workshop to understand the nuances, brush up on my techniques, collaborate with other teachers, and just feel a bit more official.

The next summer I was pregnant, and the following summers the workshops were too far away to feel doable with small kids.

But this summer it worked out and I even received money from the ACS-Hach Professional Development Grant to offset the cost.  (See here for info on their various grant programs for chemistry teachers.) I have never been so excited to drive a two-hour commute for two weeks during my summer “vacation.” (Totally not sarcastic – I was thrilled!!! – well maybe not about waking up so early, but…) Every teacher knows that the effort put in outside of the classroom is what allows you to improve and boy was this workshop worth it!

I took lots of notes, talked with other teachers, and really tried to get everything out of the opportunity that I could.  After it was all done, I realized I really needed to spend some additional time processing what I learned and, of course, making changes for next school year.

So I am planning to write a series of posts over the course of the summer on the two week Modeling Chemistry workshop I took with two purposes in mind: 1) help myself internalize all the things we touched upon in the workshop and 2) make a summary of the workshop available for those, like me, who find themselves unable to get to a workshop right away.  I know there are at least a few other summaries or at least partial summaries of Modeling Chemistry workshops out there because I tried to use them as a substitute for going when I wasn’t able and reading them felt better than not having anything at all. I even heard that some online training might one day become available. These posts are not meant to be a substitute for attending the workshop in person, but if they are helpful to more than just me, great!

Of course, I owe a big thank you to my workshop leader Phil Culcasi at Wheaton Warrenville South High School and all the teachers that took time out of their summers to run and attend the workshops there!!

Here’s the first installment: Modeling Chemistry Workshop – Day 1 Part 1