In 1997, MVHS was awarded a second NSF grant in which the focus was the
development and implementation of computational modeling activities that
addressed Maryland Core Learning Goals. Twenty-seven schools
joined this project in an effort to find the answers to these three research questions:
The CoreModels Process
- Can computational modeling
activities be successfully implemented in a variety of science classrooms?
- Can their effective use enhance the ability of students to attain Core
Learning Goal expectations?
- Can teacher leaders
successfully mentor peers through reciprocal site visits, classroom
coaching and telecommunications?
Starting with a select group of teacher leaders from the initial MVHS project, the
first year of the CoreModels project was spent building a learning community in which
classroom observations and peer review of materials became the norm. These leaders
then mentored other teachers who joined the project during the second and third years.
School year sessions for participating teachers
introduced the central ideas of computational science and provided an
opportunity for them to work through the activities that they then used in
their own classrooms. Each CoreModels activity was constructed using an inquiry-based
approach in which the model could be used to help answer a problem that had been posed.
Student learning was assessed through two open-ended questions: one
required the students to provide a detailed written interpretation of a graph
generated by a model and the other asked the students to evaluate the affordances and
limitations of the model. Peer observations and
coaching ensured that teachers were supported in implementing
the activities and served as a valuable source of feedback for
materials revision. Teacher-developed rubrics for the student assessments provided an opportunity
for in-depth discussions of the concepts essential to each question and ways to aid student
mastery of those concepts.
MVHS CoreModels integrated curriculum reform efforts, technology
integration and teacher professionalism through peer support.
MVHS seeks to bring to bear an understanding of human cognition,
including sensory functions, short and
long term memory, and problem solving to the design of instructional
materials, online environment and professional development paradigm. The
principles influencing the project are outlined below, with links to
further discussion and resources.
CoreModels emphasizes the modeling process which allows students to
construct their own understanding of recurring scientific concepts like
environmental cycles, equilibrium processes, and feedback - relationships
emphasized in both the Maryland Core Learning Goals and AAAS Science
The MVHS professional development paradigm is centered on the classroom.
Center directors and supporting teachers receive leadership training and
practice in peer coaching. School year sessions for participating teachers
introduce the central ideas of computational science and provide an
opportunity for them to work through the activities that they will use in
their own classrooms and assist center directors in leading students
through these same investigations. A subsequent peer observation and
coaching component ensures that teachers are supported in implementing
these activities and is used as a valuable source of feedback for
Three regional centers, located in
Northern, Central and Western Maryland, were established in 1997 to support schools in using
computational modeling toward student attainment of the new state
standards. Each center was directed by a teacher who was released half time from teaching duties
to free up time to work with participating
teachers at five or six schools. When funding ended in 2000, the three center directors returned to their
full-time teaching schedules; but master teachers from across the three regions continued training
other teachers through summer workshops funded through EOT-PACI and EPIC.
Project Status Report - 1999
Teacher collaboration is both a means and an end for integrating technology
into daily school life. In addition to the basics of technology use,
teachers consult each other in determining how to use it to help students
achieve. Building an online learning community can lessen the isolation of
the classroom, enabling teachers and students to work together on authetic
community based problems.
- Center Reports
- Project Problems, Opportunities, Decisions