Modeling instruction & whiteboard sessions

I’ve never had any formal training in modeling instruction.  However, I’ve read quite a bit about it at the ASU Modeling Instruction Site and done a lot of other internet research about it.  If I lived anywhere close to Arizona, I would definitely attend some of their workshops!

People love whiteboards - why do you think these commercials are so popular?

People love whiteboards!

After reading alot about this program, though, I decided to try using some of the basic methods in my class.  Essentially, I have begun using this process to debrief labs, activities and lessons in class.  The students love using the whiteboards and are much more willing to present their ideas with a visual to support them.  They are also much more willing to revise their models when they are on a whiteboard – in fact, they like to erase and change them!

To me, the core of this method, though, is not the labs or the whiteboard diagrams or graphs.  The core of the method is getting the students to have rich discussions about their ideas for explaining systems, phenomena or concepts.  Anytime you can get students to discuss difficult concepts, disagree politely, explain reasoning, question each other, and negotiate a solution, you are facilitating excellent learning!
So, get yourself some whiteboards (good tips for doing this on the cheap here) and get students modeling their thinking!

6 thoughts on “Modeling instruction & whiteboard sessions

  1. The link to this page mentions whiteboard protocols. I would love to hear how you use them. I am familiar with the ASU Modeling program but to hear some real classroom usage would be really useful.

  2. Hi. Since you’d like to take a Modeling Workshop, visit and see the many states in which summer Modeling Workshops are held. Some of them are FREE!

    In summer 2010, 45 Modeling Workshops were held in 27 states. Most workshops were three weeks long and focused on mechanics. But several were on chemistry, a few were for middle school and ninth grade physical science teachers, and a few were on second semester physics content. So encourage your colleagues in any physical science to visit this webpage, too.

    Modeling Instruction is a grassroots movement. At many workshop sites, the workshops are organized by teachers who use Modeling Instruction. They convince a local university faculty member to seek grant funding; or they work with their school district science coordinator to get funding. I help coordinate all the workshops nationwide — as a volunteer.

    If you would like to organize a Modeling Workshop in your region, please contact me (look on the website, on the staff page); I can help.

    Jane Jackson, Co-Director, Modeling Instruction Program, Department of Physics, Arizona State University, Tempe.

  3. Thanks for the info about modeling workshops. I’d love to get to one someday. I think the only way to do that might be to organize one in my area (central Washington state), though!

  4. Phil,

    That’s a great idea. I will work up a post about ways to use whiteboards in the classroom. I’ve used them a lot of different ways!

  5. Great idea, but could not reach your suggested link:
    “good tips for doing this on the cheap”. Any idea what the problem could be?

  6. Robert,

    It’s working for me. Maybe it was a temporary site issue? The link actually downloads a Word document full of great tips, many of which have helped me!

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