Thursday, June 9, 2011

Feedback on Workshop Abstract

I have to run a workshop for secondary math and science teachers at a conference in two weeks, and have to turn in the abstract/title tomorrow. I'm looking to do something new I haven't done before, and this is something that has been stuck in my brain these past 6 months.

The session will be one of five parallel sessions, with around 20 teachers each. This is what I drafted this morning. I'm looking for feedback. What do you think? Would you got to this session?

You are your own guide post: Fostering our own sense of inquiry

There are many calls for engaging students in scientific inquiry, and there are equally as many definitions of what constitutes inquiry. This workshop is based on the premise that we can better position ourselves to know and to teach inquiry when we cultivate our own inclinations to inquire as part of our everyday lives. We'll explore the following four strategies aimed at re-invigorating and sustaining everyday engagement in inquiry: capturing spontaneous wonder in multimedia, drawing others in to wonder with you, tinkering and exploring in the everyday world, and exercising one's authority to know and learn. In this workshop, we'll do a bit inquiring together, explore each strategy with concrete examples, and discuss connections to classroom inquiry.


  1. Is there a way to, erm, spice it up a bit? Catch the potential attendees attention so they'll pick this workshop over the one next door? What about some eye-grabbing (brain-grabbing) questions up front:

    Why you can alternate Tylenol and Motrin when your kid has a fever? Is your location-enabled smartphone *really* linking with GPS satellites? What is it about the carrots you're growing in your backyard that's increasing linearly with time: height, diameter, volume, none of the above?

    That is, Brian, start the spontaneous capture right away! Make them want to inquire about your inquiry workshop.


  2. I think it's a great idea. I've started keeping a learning journal for this very reason: to notice the fun and the pain and the knee-jerk reactions I have when I am learning new things, in the hopes that it will give me some insight into what my students are going through. It's extremely helpful and darned uncomfortable. It involves me noticing that I whine about and lash out against learning experiences in lots of ways that my students do; it also uncovered lots of my defensiveness about my teaching. I suspect that your workshop will be a tough sell. This might be one of those times when that's a good sign.

  3. I would attend, primarily because your light/water series was so fascinating :) I'm wondering who the audience is for this conference-- if it's primarily going to be current teachers, I suspect something that feels more grounded and concrete (like what you propose in the final sentence) could be more enticing, unless you skip the marketing completely and frame it as a powerful opportunity to reflect (or navel-gaze, as the case may be). I bet you'd attract a smaller group but one much more inclined to engage in the type of exploration it sounds like you want to provoke.