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Report on Professional Activities

2012-2013
Sarah Fischer was my Professional Development Partner during the year. We had already worked
together in June Term 2012 so there was some familiarity of each others classroom methodology and
approach to teaching and this helped in our discussions about professional development. Our approach
has been to have a general discussion about what has worked well in the classroom and what we wish we
could improve on and then to use those ideas to help hammer out some goals for the year. We began this
in the fall, but quite honestly we found it helpful to morph our goals as the year went on. Partly because
of our discussions we both tried things that we might not have thought about at the very beginning of the
process and thus the articulation of my goals below is a updated version of what they were back in
October of 2012. Additionally I found it helpful to articulate my goals specific to the classes that I teach
and as such I focused my goals into two areas: Environmental Science and Chemistry.
Environmental Science
The two areas that I choose to focus on this year in terms of my classroom work in AP/IB
Environmental Science were the lab component of the course and the review of material leading up to
tests.
Develop short lab activities
The labs that I have traditionally done in Enviro have been based on the incorporation of skills
associated with the IB criteria for the IB portfolio. These include planning aspects for labs, data collection
and processing aspects in labs and conclusion and evaluation aspects on the overall lab. To allow the
students to present their best portfolio of labs I need to give them multiple opportunities to address these
aspects in a lab situation. However this has also meant that the labs can become quite large in their time
and content scope. This can be good from the perspective of linking together concepts in the material,
but bad from a time management point of view and getting bogged down in a lab that spans multiple lab
periods. So I decided to make one of my goals the development and incorporation of smaller and shorter
lab activities. This year I have developed and run 3 short (1 lab period) labs where the set-up was
performed and data was collected in one lab period. The ensuing write-up was required to be just 1 page
front and back. I loved the grading aspect of the labs, the kids liked the activities and the hands on aspect
of dealing with the material was a change from just explaining and reading about it. Additionally I found
that as I talked about these new labs in the department that I was able to stimulate some others to try
similar activities. Drew Kesler was one who used the equipment and ideas from my LED light bulb
activity (see below) and incorporated aspects of this into his own IB Physics program. The activities
were:
1. Tragedy of the Commons simulation
2. An El-Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) simulation
3. A comparison of the energy efficiency of a variety of light bulbs and the pay back time of an
LED bulb
I will use each of these activities again next year with some modification and hope to have 3 more
in place to use during the year to help supplement the longer lab investigations.
Use Concept Mapping software (IHMC CmapTools)
I typically cover two chapters in each of the units I do in AP/IB Environmental Science and in the
last few days leading up to the test I usually put together an outline sheet of the topics and vocabulary
covered. It is helpful to the kids, but I was looking for a way to make it more holistic to linkages between
the topics in the unit. I came across a free piece of software called Cmap Tools that I have started using to
create concept maps of the topics and am already on my 4th use of the software to make a concept map of
the topics covered in a unit. The feedback from the students, although anecdotal has been positive and I
have plans to have the students in the future use this software to create their own concept maps and
factor in the concept of feedback loops.

Chemistry
The one main area that I choose to focus on this year in Chemistry was in my use of the Brightlink
projector and the new capabilities of the interactive white board. I must say I have found the features
associated with this new system to be far superior to the older system of Smartboard technology and
anticipate using this new Brightlink system even more in the future.
The main aspect of the Brightlink system that I pushed myself to master and use were the tools
associated with the electronic pens and the capability to electronic notes and problem solving on the
whiteboard and then post this information to a web site like http://faculty.newarka.edu/~derlandson/
There are various programs one can choose to use in conjunction with the Brightlink system and the one
I settled on was the Team Board Draw program. The main areas where I used this were:
Day to day presentation of material
Generation of review sheets for tests
A mechanism for displaying answers and work to homework problems
The ability to develop electronic forms of the above bullet points was very helpful to both the
students of my class and myself. I am confident that in future years I will continue to use and expand
upon many of the same templates that I developed this year as well as find ways to expand upon my use
of the interactive white board.