Scheduling Study Groups and More…

Establishing Regular Meeting Times for Study Groups, One-on-One Sessions and Office Hours.

This post has a lot to it.  I’m sending the same information via email.

Some of it is reflecting on how I got to the point of determining next steps, but I know you are all likely busy and some will want me to cut to the chase, so I start with the what’s needed to move the project forward.  After that, you can read the thinking behind it if you’d like.  There’s more on each of the bullets in the text that follows them.

What I need you to do before we talk again

  • Complete the Doodle Scheduler for the next study group.  That’s here:  Note that you may see unfamiliar names.  The scheduler is being used for all three workshop groups from Summer 2010, but I’ll sort it out into workshop groups after everyone completes the poll.
  • Use the Google Form to indicate times that work for you for regular monthly meetings.  It’s here:
  • Send me anything you’ve created for the VFE of the workshop site. I’ll assemble the parts using both a PowerPoint (with external links as needed) and add the files to the workshop site (as downloads).  Several folks have already sent me their files.
  • Email me suggestions for a regular time for one-on-one sessions.  I expect these to be about 15  minutes once a month, preferably weekdays before 5:00 pm Eastern Time (during your planning periods or shortly after school).  It might be the second Tuesday at 4:00 Eastern, for example.  I have regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday afternoons, Wednesday and Thursday mornings, but am generally flexible outside of those times during the workday.
  • If you’re interested, consider presenting at your state science teachers’ association meeting.

Please complete the above at your earliest convenience, but no later than September 13.

More about the above…

As we move into the school year, I’m looking forward to continuing our work together.  My hope is to talk with each of you at least twice a month – once in study groups of about five and once in one-on-one conversations.  I also intend to establish regular “office hours” where I’ll be available for folks to virtually drop in.  The study groups, office hours and one-on-one sessions will be regularly scheduled, with the study groups taking place in the late afternoons or evenings.

Unless I catch some folks later this week, the meetings won’t really kick in until late September.  In a week, I’ll be setting sail on the JOIDES Resolution for ten days. With the travel two and from Victoria, British Columbia the trip takes me out of reliable high speed Internet access for two weeks for practical purposes.  I do invite you to follow us on the blog and to send me ideas about anything you’d like to know more about related to the science we’ll be exploring while at sea.  See for information about the work, and click the ‘Blog’ link at the top of the page to follow what I and other members of the crew are up to.  (I’m really excited!)

Once a regular schedule is set, I’ll put it in my calendar in a way that generates automatic email reminders a day ahead, and I’ll do that with the end of September meetings as well.

Scheduling Complexities Lead to Enhanced Networking Opportunities

My most painful lesson of the generally very good summer is that I should have mapped out the complexities of scheduling alumni from three workshops before the first workshop began.  The upside of that is that this is a research project as well as a professional development and curriculum development project and everyone involved is supposed to learn from the work.

Looking at the big picture suggests groups that are heterogeneous by workshop – meaning that a group might have alumni from the Crater Lake, Canyon Lake Gorge, Texas, and Monroe, MI together.  That not only makes the schedule manageable, it also expands everyone’s network.  That’s especially promising in connecting teachers from environments that differ more greatly than they typically do within a single region.   Again, one of the key goals of the project is to use the local to understand the global.  That becomes easier when you’re connected to colleagues who live in a place that’s a lot different from home.

However, I’d like to do one final round of study groups that are homogenous by region with the intent of tying the pieces of the workshop VFEs together.   That’s what the Doodle Scheduler in this message is for.  Starting in October, groups will have a mix of folks from different regions.

Consider presenting at conferences

For Michiganders, it’s not too late for submitting an MSTA session.  See  We’d be glad to look at or help you write proposals and can offer letters of support if that would be helpful.  Unfortunately, we can’t help financially.

Photo Sharing for Bolles Harbor and Sterling State Park

This post is for sharing pictures from the Bolles Harbor and Sterling State Park ReaL Earth System Science professional development program.  Please post links to your online photo albums in the comments for this post.  I’ve done the first as an example of what that looks like.

There is a separate post for sharing resources on these sites, and some resources and photos are also available on the Bolles Harbor Page of

This post is for sharing pictures from Crater Lake National Park, for teachers in our first Western workshop. When you’ve uploaded your pictures to a Picasa Web Album or other photosharing site, post the link in the comments.

By posting your links here, we’re able to collaborate in the creation of our VFE. For embedding photos into Google Earth tours, it is very helpful to use photos online (it is possible to use photos that are on your own hard drive, but you can’t easily share the files with people on other computers).

By posting here we’re also able to select the best from each of us, allowing for a better final product.

I’m reposting a link from our Texas workshop (with nicely captioned pictures) as an example.

Working on Glen Rose Formation VFEs + New Conceptual Framework for Science Standards Preliminary Draft

This post has also been sent as an email to the participants from our June, 2010 San Antonio workshop.  It sketches out next steps for developing the set of three template-based Virtual Fieldwork Experiences for the sites visited during the workshop (see links below).  And this post also requests feedback for the Preliminary Draft of the National Research Council’s Framework for Science Education.

I’ve begun working on a series of tutorials for customizing the VFE template, but am finding that making the tutorial is taking considerably more time than I’d expected.  The template itself is ready to adapt to different sites by those who are proficient PowerPoint users.  If you can add and delete pictures to a PowerPoint, you can put the template to good use.

As noted within the template, the text is worded in such a way that it is relevant to any site.  As a result of our first Study Group discussion, it was decided that it makes sense to have three VFEs come out of our work on the Glen Rose Formation — one for the dinosaur trackways at the Heritage Museum of the Texas Hill Country, another on Canyon Lake Gorge and a third on Natural Bridge Caverns.

I began the process thinking of a single, big VFE for all three sites and that partially completed work is on the Canyon Lake Gorge workshop page.  I’ve swapped out many of the pictures from the original template (from last year’s workshop in Oklahoma).  My work has left it with pictures from all three of our field sites, and a few still from Oklahoma.  That draft offers a good starting point for any of the three VFEs we’re working on now.

I’ve added some description of that on the Canyon Lake Gorge workshop page.  What I’d like to see happen is for folks to choose a slide or two from the template and tailor them to one of the three fieldwork sites.  That entails deleting the pictures that are from a different site and plugging in sites from the relevant site.  Then you can copy just those slides to a new PowerPoint (or Keynote) presentation, save it and send it along to me.  Then I can merge them into single files for each site.

Of course, for that to work, folks need to choose what they’d like to work on.  Take a look at the template, think about the sites, and use the comments below to let us know what you’ll be working on.  I’ve put in an example of what that might look like.

I’ve made a start on the dinosaur trackways and will finish that up as I craft the tutorials.  Charlotte takes her kids on a field trip to Natural Bridge Caverns and therefore would like to work on that.  Deb expressed interest in working on Canyon Lake Gorge, I think with special attention to the biology (including fossils).

The very partial Glen Rose Draft VFE I started, that still has all three sites together in a single VFE is here as a PowerPoint:

So, it’s here as a PowerPoint:
As a Keynote:
and, as html: a PowerPoint:

As a Keynote:

and, as html: Note that the internal links don’t work in the html version for Glen Rose.  They do in the Arbuckle Mountains/Turner Falls (Oklahoma) one.  I think the difference is I’m now using PowerPoint 2008 and the original template was created with PowerPoint 2004.  It looks to me like updating the software resulted in the loss of a valuable feature.  Grrr.

I’m hoping our study groups will get on a regular schedule soon for all involved.  I’ll have one session on Tuesday 7/20 @ 3:00 pm CDT.  Our first sessions have worked well technologically, so if that time works for all, I’m cautiously optimistic we can handle the whole group.  Again, earbuds, like those from an iPod are important for keeping sound quality high.  Can you let me know if that time works for you and if it doesn’t suggest a few other times next week that do?

On a completely different topic…

The Preliminary Public Draft of the National Research Council’s Framework for Science Education was released yesterday.  This will likely very directly inform the development of state and national standards for years to come and now is the opportunity to have feedback in the process.  Or, actually, starting tomorrow is the time to have input as they don’t have the online form for feedback up at this writing but plan to within 24 hours or so.  It should be linked from that page when the feedback form goes live.

You’ll see that the Earth & Space Science Core Ideas resonate with the big ideas from our project.



Science News Article on Canyon Lake Gorge

The current issue of Science News has an article describing the interesting scientific research being done related to Canyon Lake Gorge.

Floodwaters spilling over the edge of a Texas reservoir in 2002 carved an unexpectedly large canyon through limestone bedrock in just three days.

Floodwaters spilling over the edge of a Texas reservoir in 2002 carved an unexpectedly large canyon through limestone bedrock in just three days.

The article includes discussion of analogous processes elsewhere including on Mars.

At the workshop, we mentioned how we see Mars as the ultimate VFE.  Here’s a link to that description.