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Vision and the Scientific Habit of Mind:

Interdisciplinary Curriculum Design

DESCRIPTION. The purpose of this 30-hour course (5 days, 6 hours per day) is the creation of several interdisciplinary curricula. You will learn to do this by:

* bringing the world of museums into the everyday classroom environment through actual visits or by taking "virtual field trips," and by sharing these experiences with other teachers and students,

* learning new ways of encouraging the development of "a scientific habit of mind" in all our students, while opening new doors to cooperative educational ventures in the arts and sciences,

* creating an interdisciplinary learning environment which resembles life, with the intention of teaching problem-solving strategies, and

* fostering an appreciation for the interconnectedness of our lives on this planet.

The course will follow the interdisciplinary theme, "Vision and the Scientific Habit of Mind," which we designed, based on a Smithsonian exhibit on "Science in American Life" at the National Museum of American History. In the first part of this exhibit, we enter the laboratory of chemists Ira Remsen and Constantin Fahlberg at Johns Hopkins University as they argue the issue of which one actually discovered saccharin. At one point, Remsen discounts the importance of who actually should benefit from the discovery, and reflects upon the ultimate aim of teaching:

"To develop a scientific habit of mind in our students, and to train them to become investigators."

Through the "Science in American Life" exhibit (or comparable one), teachers will construct together a "thematic unit" addressing subjects that have traditionally only been taught in isolation: e.g. science, music, mathematics, reading and writing, art, history, health, physical education. Materials and activities will be provided. The teachers will have some classroom work, considerable field work (in museums and at school), and a visit to an educational toy store to identify toys, games, and software which will fit appropriately with the curricula they create for their specific classrooms. Questions intended to facilitate transfer of the teachers' new understandings to their own classrooms will be considered and shared.

Course Outline

Introduction: A Teacher's Metacognitive View or "Thinking About What We're Thinking" Reviewing and understanding your own educational philosophy
Questions to consider: How to build consensus on a schools' or a group's educational philosophy.

Review: What is a "curriculum?" What is an "interdisciplinary curriculum?
Discussion of the content, foundation, method, philosophy, the stated and implied goals, overt agendas, covert agendas, and hidden agendas.

Discussion of Theme Validity 1) Validity Within the Disciplines; 3)Validity Beyond the Disciplines; 2) Validity For the Disciplines; 4) Contribution to Broader Outcomes.

Site Visit: "Science in American Life," Hands-On Science Room, or related museum exhibit.

Take content and procedural notes, photographs, videos, make audio recordings, gather documentation, participate in hands-on activities, speak with scientists and docents. The purpose of the museum trip is to expose teachers to the ways in which historic figures --- visionaries --- developed a scientific habit of mind through their own discoveries, and how their works have now become inextricably linked, for better or for worse, to all aspects of our lives.


Creating an Interdisciplinary Theme
Curriculum guidelines, sample frameworks, examples of interdisciplinary units provided and discussed. Development of themes

Trip to Educational Toy Store

Discuss materials needed to implement the curriculum, and the value of certain toys to facilitate learning and to evaluate student understanding. Practical issues: use of hands-on books, toys, games, models, CD-ROMS, software to access Internet resources; museum photos, slides, exhibits; school & local library resources & personnel, local businesses.

Work on Thematic Interdisciplinary Units.

Incorporate materials acquired from toy store, ideas from classroom experience, and group brainstorming; follow general criteria and guidelines.

Consult library and/or Internet resources.

Teachers present their Interdisciplinary Curricula to each other and discuss practical issues of implementation, directions for future projects, and assessment criteria.




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