Program Schedule

Pre-Summer Meetings

Our original project included three spring Saturday workshops. Scholars were introduced to all research communities the first two Saturdays, selected the one of their choice and began their work on the third Saturday. For budgeting reasons, later projects eliminated this component, replacing it with written communication, phone calls to each participant from a staff member, and pre-summer readings.

It is better to have at least one pre-summer meeting where Scholars can become familiar with the site, the staff, each other and the program goals. When a project-plan does not include a spring meeting, a sense of community should be created through personal contact and letters. In a recent adaptation of 5C5E, our co-leaders (former participants) divided the list of those accepted and called to introduce themselves and answer questions. Everyone arrived knowing someone on the project staff.

In the Partnership we do not use introductory, warm-up games; we have found that the best introduction is the content itself. We begin teaching the way we will continue to teach. The content and the pedagogy themselves create a safe, comfortable environment for learning.

Summer Plenary Meetings

The schedule of our original project called for morning plenary sessions, with four days a week devoted to science (lectures, demonstrations, labs, field trips) and one day a week to pedagogy. The afternoons were spent in the research communities. In later versions of the project, we dropped the plenary science programs completely, spending one hour each morning in discussions of pedagogy and a half hour at the end of the day writing and reflecting. The rest of the day was spent in the research community.

In a two-week program, we recommend that morning plenary sessions (1-2 hours) include both discussions of pedagogy and science topics of common interest to all communities: acid rain, concentration/pH, greenhouse effect and energy balance, chemical cycles (oxygen, carbon, water), and ecology and biodiversity. Each of these workshops should include time for small groups of participants to design and even carry out brief independent investigations. In a one-week program, plenary sessions focus on pedagogy only.

Plenary meetings also help develop a sense of community. However, it is important not to confuse being together with doing something worthwhile. In a short program, it is important to consider alternatives to each activity. For example, we were able to eliminate plenary announcements by publishing (and relying on Scholars to read) a daily bulletin. Samples are included in the Appendix. The bulletin also solves the problems of those not in the room during announcements and is an easy vehicle for information on other resources or opportunities that staff and Scholars learn about during the institute. We also used chalk boards and newsprint in the coffee room to generate lunch meetings of groups of teachers interested in special topics - rather than have these logistical discussions consume plenary time.

It is essential to plan some kind of closing activity; it is equally important not to have this activity consume too much preparation energy and time. We have found that a brief overview of the research community's work, followed by a display of data collecting procedures and results, works very well and can serve as an appropriate event for administrators. Such presentations also help participants review what they have learned and practice teaching the new materials to others. There should be some kind of celebratory event so that staff and Scholars have the opportunity to reflect on all they have accomplished.

Summer Research Community Time

Each Research Community instructional team will, of course, need to work out the best way to use their time. Often, the first few days will be taken up with learning experimental techniques and understanding what questions can be asked; the middle will be spent collecting and analyzing data; and the last few days focusing on thinking about comparable activities in the classroom. (Questions and ideas about classroom applications are part of every day.) We predict that the initial schedule will include too much new information and not enough time to work, to reflect on data, to make mistakes. It is also possible that the schedule will devote too much time to planning for the classroom and too little time having the teachers engage in environmental research themselves. We recommend that participants spend at least 75% of the Research Community time doing research (including data analysis and reflection) and no more than 25% planning for their students.

Classroom Projects

We recommend that each Scholar leaves the summer program with a simple, written plan for the classroom and that they bring stories and student work to each call-back session.

Academic Year Meetings

The program should schedule at least one early fall meeting (to renew enthusiasm and get people started), one winter meeting (so that the first projects can report results), and one in early spring (so that everyone will have some classroom stories to share.) Having five sessions would be even better. Dates are usually selected during the summer institute so that everyone's schedule can be considered. Follow-up should continue once a semester for another year. Our meetings were planned with input from the Scholars and usually included Research Community meetings, some plenary discussion and new content information, workshop, or resource.

Some kind of informal project newsletter should be used to provide Scholars and staff with logistical information about meetings, and toupdate them on new resources, activities of other participants, and special events of interest to them. The newsletter should be monthly the first year and bi-monthly the second (and hopefully third). If Scholars have Internet or other telecommunication access, its use increases the level and ease of communication, but does not replace the meetings of participants. It can replace the newsletter if everyone is actively on-line.

Second Summer

During the second summer, the one-week institute was devoted to helping Scholars complete and reflect on their projects, learn new content, and strengthen some of the skills which were introduced during the first summer. While this adds to the expense of a project, it provides closure for both Scholars and staff and gives everyone a chance to make plans for the second year. We recommend that projects consider at least a 3-day second summer program.

We have included information about our post-program Leadership Training activities to help you design a multi-year program.