Tuesday, August 07, 2001

Science teachers polish lessons

Workshop puts accent on doing

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        STONELICK TOWNSHIP - Raymond Friend won't step into a classroom as a teacher for another three weeks. But the first-year science teacher already has made a worm colony and plans to incorporate the book There's A Hair in My Dirt into a life cycles class he will teach at Fairfield Local Middle School.

        Mr. Friend is one of 63 Cincinnati-area teachers participating in an introductory two-week workshop from Miami University's GREEN Teacher Institute being taught this week at Clermont Northeastern Middle School. The program is designed to help elementary and middle school teachers teach science more effectively.

        They will walk away from the workshop with 12 lessons and materials they have created and tested out on their peers, nearly $300 worth of teaching materials and a network of teachers they can bounce ideas off.

        “We emphasize doing science, not just reading about it,” said Cecilia Franz, co-director of the program. "We want to help teachers teach science more effectively.”

        Mr. Friend said he feels more confident going into the classroom with the knowledge he's gleaned from his peers.

        “I get to see and do hands-on activities,” Mr. Friend said. “I get to hear all these ideas from teachers who have been doing this. I think my favorite is using children's literature to introduce science topics.”

        Until she tested a lesson on electromagnets, fifth grade teacher Julie Frampton said she wouldn't have known that she needed iron nails to make the experiment work.

        “I would have done it in the classroom and it wouldn't have worked,” said Mrs. Frampton, who teaches at St. Bernard School in Colerain Township. "I've learned so much here and had so much fun.”

        Participants in the program are grouped by grade levels they teach. Some work is done in a large group session; the rest in small groups with master teachers.

        Teacher Don Koller led a group in making a microcosm world in a glass jar by taking a small amount of dirt, water and plants taken from a nearby pond. There, algae, duckweed and other material provide food for the snails, insects and one-cell creatures that thrive in their own little world.

        Veteran teacher Linda Cooper said she's seen a lot of changes in her 28 years of teaching, the biggest being the incorporation of journals and logs into all subjects. The work shop gave her new insights to the number of wetlands in the area and gave her more hands-on projects to do with her fifth graders at Hamersville Elementary.

        The workshop, she said, helped reinforce the philosophy she's maintained in the classroom: “I do, I remember.”

        "It's very inspiring having other people teach and listen to their methods and approaches,” Ms. Cooper said. “It's refreshing to get new ideas outside of the textbook.”


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