John Van Dis on Student Centered Science

Next week, on May 6 (3:00 PM) and 8 (1:00 PM), John Van Dis will be offering a two-part series of workshops in which he will talk about approaches he has been using to support student-centered science investigations during these times when students are learning at home rather than in school.  I have written about John’s work with students before and am sure that many educators will find spending time hearing from and chatting with John to be fun and thought-provoking.

Image with information about the sessions that are described in the text of the post

Keep reading to find out about John, the sessions, and how to register.

Part 1: Backyard Nature Journaling

What’s in your students’ backyards? John will describe strategies for getting your students out observing their immediate environment and reflecting in journals. Inspired by David Haskell’s The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature and GMRI’s Nature Notes from their student work publication Findings from the Field, John began developing a structured approach to observing and journaling. During the workshop, we’ll look at graphic organizers and rubrics created by GMRI and discuss different ways to engage your students, whether it’s regularly observing a small circle of forest floor or embarking on 30 minute walks through their neighborhoods. This is the first session of a two-part conversation about engaging your students in their own student-focused citizen science projects.

When: May 6, 2020, 03:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada) 

Register in advance for this meeting

Part 2: Developing Place-Based Investigation Questions

Are your students interested in citizen science?  How could you spark their curiosity to develop their own investigations focused on their own communities? John will lead a discussion about strategies for getting your students out asking their own nature-based questions about their communities, and then moving those into investigatable questions. It’s not always a fast process and we’ll look at ways to break this down into steps that may continue on into next year. For now, perhaps the most important aspect is getting your students out into the world observing and asking questions. You are welcome to join this workshop independently or use it as an extension (Part 2) to the workshop on Backyard Nature Journaling. This work is inspired by John’s involvement with MMSA’s WeatherBlur program which fosters Student-Driven Citizen Science.

When: May 8, 2020, 01:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada) 

Register in advance for this meeting

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

About John

John Van Dis teaches high school science at Islesboro Central School. Over the past decade, he has developed an approach to teaching that puts students at the center of projects where the work that the students do matters. For example, in the years that he taught at the Edna Drinkwater School in Northport, his students became involved in figuring out better ways to grow kelp, in making the case for a new greenhouse at the school and then leading the design work for the greenhouse, and in investigations of clam growth and mortality. Now at Islesboro Central, John’s students continue with clam research in close collaboration with the Islesboro community. They also conduct a variety of smaller scale, more individualized projects to observe and collect data about the world around them.

More about the Community Learning for Me Website…

The Community Learning for ME website is a volunteer-driven, grassroots effort designed in Maine communities for Maine communities as a resource to support parents and teachers while school is not in session due to COVID-19.  The goal is to provide parents and teachers with resources, supports, and networking opportunities to support students in this difficult time.  The Science for Maine Communities page within this website is focused on sharing curated Maine-based resources, community-based science learning opportunities, stories of the amazing place-based science work happening in schools across Maine, and connecting educators to each other and community resources.  

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