1. Eleanor Abrams
  2. Professor
  3. The SPIRALS program
  4. http://www.spirals.unh.edu
  5. University of New Hampshire
  1. Sameer Honwad
  2. Assistant Professor
  3. The SPIRALS program
  4. http://www.spirals.unh.edu
  5. University of New Hampshire
  1. Erica Jablonski
  2. Graduate Research Assistant
  3. The SPIRALS program
  4. http://www.spirals.unh.edu
  5. University of New Hampshire
  1. Jason McKibben
  2. The SPIRALS program
  3. http://www.spirals.unh.edu
  4. University of New Hampshire
  1. Michael Middleton
  2. Dean and Professor
  3. The SPIRALS program
  4. http://www.spirals.unh.edu
  5. University of Massachusetts Boston
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Jorge Solis

    Jorge Solis

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2016 | 03:53 p.m.

    Could you share more background on how the SPIRALS approach was modeled by teachers and community members?

  • Icon for: Eleanor Abrams

    Eleanor Abrams

    Presenter
    May 17, 2016 | 12:12 p.m.

    The teachers were supported to use the SPIRALS program in the several ways. We give a 2-hour overview of the SPIRALS program either in person or through the use of an online asynchronous webinar. Local educational specialists are embedded in both New England and Hawaii that meet with the teachers to help them plan how they were going to use SPIRALS in their classrooms. Some SPIRALS teachers allowed the students to investigate any practice within their community they thought was sustainable. Other teachers selected an area or a topic area such as the White Mountain National Forest or food and students selected a community practice from within that topic/area. A small group of teachers selected the community practice because they felt they knew the community member and could control the flow of the project more closely. The teachers along with the students determined how they were going to interact with the community member based on local context. A majority of the projects involved on-site visitations, structured interviews of the community members and online research. Community members have been very willing with their time, expertise and resources. Let me know if I can give you any more information.

  • Icon for: Jorge Solis

    Jorge Solis

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2016 | 01:46 p.m.

    Thank you Eleanor. I really like how you’re building into existing and local human and environmental resources! Yes, how could I learn more about your project?

  • Icon for: Eleanor Abrams

    Eleanor Abrams

    Presenter
    May 19, 2016 | 03:48 p.m.

    Hi Jorge,

    We have a website you can access—www.spirals.unh.edu. You can also contact us for more information any time you want.

    Best,
    Eleanor

  • Icon for: Michael Middleton

    Michael Middleton

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2016 | 03:58 p.m.

    Thanks for visiting our video. Our team of educators, researchers, and community members have collaborated to bring engaging community-based science content to rural and indigenous youth regarding sustainability. We’re eager to read your comments, answer questions and consider possibilities for future work.

  • Icon for: Michel DeGraff

    Michel DeGraff

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2016 | 11:01 p.m.

    What a wonderful project. I love the idea of making “sustainability” an integral part of the students’ projects—-so beautifully rooted in their own community. Since this project involves indigenous communities whose cultures and languages have been so threatened and endangered since the colonial era, I wonder whether there’s been an effort for the SPIRAL project to include the children’s ancestral languages as well, alongside indigenous knowledge—-as a way to keep these languages alive, to “sustain” them as well.

  • Icon for: Michael Middleton

    Michael Middleton

    Co-Presenter
    May 17, 2016 | 11:57 a.m.

    Thanks for your question. The issue of language is essential in place-based pedagogies as a way of connecting local knowledge and practices to formal schooling. Our partners in Hawai’i are working in community organizations and schools with a deep respect for incorporating Hawai’ian language into educating youth. Hawai’ian language, culture and oral traditions are routinely a part of their pedagogy. We also encourage our partners in majority rural communities to consider local language and terminology as a part of science learning pedagogy. The self-determination of our local mentors and community partners with regard to their cultural sustainability is an important value for us.

  • Icon for: Michel DeGraff

    Michel DeGraff

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2016 | 12:47 p.m.

    You’ve read my mind! I was thinking of the Hawai’ian situation as well, and the progress that’s being made around Hawai’’ian as a language of instruction, thus increasing learning gains. Which indigenous languages are you using in New Hampshire?

  • Icon for: Michael Middleton

    Michael Middleton

    Co-Presenter
    May 19, 2016 | 03:33 p.m.

    Michel thanks for your thoughtful questions. In working with rural majority communities in New England, we have placed strong value on multigenerational oral traditions, knowledge-keeping, and language. We see a place for that knowledge to be honored and connected to formal knowledge systems that youth encounter in schools. Our community experts play a key role in keeping and sharing that local knowledge that connects youths’ sense of place to science learning.

  • Icon for: Marcelo Worsley

    Marcelo Worsley

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2016 | 11:53 p.m.

    Can you share any thing that was unexpected for you or the students that participated in this project? Often times questions of sustainability can be quite complex, and I imagine that a number of students had a chance to really dig into that complexity by taking a systems thinking approach but would love to hear some anecdotes that might help others as they plan to do similar work, or that are just interesting.

  • Icon for: Eleanor Abrams

    Eleanor Abrams

    Presenter
    May 17, 2016 | 12:27 p.m.

    What a great question. There were several surprises both on the curricular and research sides of the project. Almost every teacher believed that they were student-oriented. However, many teachers hesitated to allow students the space to determine what they wanted to know about the sustainability of a community practice. This concern was not unexpected but what was surprising was how to develop a dialogue to support teachers’ knowledge that students are capable investigators. The other surprise on the research side was developing a methodology to analyze student work—especially their pre and post group systems maps on their chosen community practice. In the end, we determined that we could assess student system maps on components, connections and comprehension of the community practice.

  • Icon for: Brian Drayton

    Brian Drayton

    Co-Principal Investigator
    May 17, 2016 | 07:26 a.m.

    Love this!
    I particularly like the rich diversity of data sources you’re drawing from to evaluate what’s happening. Among many aspects of this work (We should talk!!), I am interested in the teacher’s role. Did you find teachers who were already “there” in order to help develop and test the model, or was there some teacher learning first? Or teacher-to-teacher peer support? Etc.

  • Icon for: Michael Middleton

    Michael Middleton

    Co-Presenter
    May 17, 2016 | 12:12 p.m.

    Thanks Brian. We’d be glad to talk with you. Our teachers and mentors come to SPIRALS from a variety of different perspectives. The process begins as our local educational specialists recruit the teachers and mentors who will participate. They provide training on how to use the curriculum and support during the enactment of the curriculum. Some teachers begin SPIRALS with extensive experience in guiding inquiry and involving local community members; however, others require more extensive support, modeling, and guidance. As you suggest, in some settings we’ve had teams of teachers participate and they often rely on each other for peer support. An important question for us currently is how teachers will be supported in SPIRALS and similar projects after our grants has ended.

  • Icon for: Joel Studebaker

    Joel Studebaker

    Project Manager
    May 17, 2016 | 02:42 p.m.

    Hi Michael, our team has been trying to answer the same question. Having invested heavily in a small group of teachers over the past two years, we’re now wondering how to get our curriculum in the hands of more teachers while making sure they have adequate support. We think we have some good ideas, but it would be great to talk to other curriculum-focused teams to find solutions for the after-grant phase!

  • Icon for: Michael Middleton

    Michael Middleton

    Co-Presenter
    May 19, 2016 | 03:34 p.m.

    Joel, our group would enjoy connecting with you and your team. We’ve discussed ways to address this process but would welcome a larger group of colleagues to strategize!

  • Icon for: Lesley Smith

    Lesley Smith

    May 18, 2016 | 02:00 p.m.

    It looks like you are successfully engaging rural and underrepresented students in your projects. Our project, Lens on Climate Change, is meeting some resistance in rural communities for students to participate in a LOCC summer program because of the word climate change. Sustainability is one aspect that can fit under the climate change umbrella, but we need to stay true to our purpose. In the southwest, water is a very critical resource and can be discussed in terms of climate change or sustainability. I believe we can get beyond the fear or denial of climate change in rural communities that depend on the oil and gas industry by focusing on water or maybe even clean energy like wind power – turbines are popping up all over in the plains and are providing money to farmers. The question is how to get the students into our doors and focus on these topics that are important in their communities? Have you met any resistance in SPIRALS or maybe other people have suggestions?

  • Icon for: Michael Middleton

    Michael Middleton

    Co-Presenter
    May 19, 2016 | 03:45 p.m.

    Lesley, thanks for sharing your experience with us. I can understand how engaging rural and Indigenous communities in inquiry on climate change can create tension and resistance. Our approach to partnering has centered on developing relationships through our local educational experts who visit with educators and community members, build relationships, and remain connected throughout the project. I like your approach in looking for common ground through issues like water or clean energy. In our project, we have taken the position that it is important to explore and understand sustainability in our local practices and in our daily lives. We provide a framework through which youth can examine sustainability by including local knowledge and perspectives. Our hope is that they will emerge with a sense of the complexity of sustainability and the importance of examining the world around us. We don’t extend our work to advocacy based on their findings but have had teachers who were interested in extending the work in that direction after our project has ended. I’m curious how other groups will respond to your questions as well.

  • Icon for: Lesley Smith

    Lesley Smith

    May 20, 2016 | 01:48 p.m.

    Thanks for responding Michael. I would be curious if others can offer advice. We are partnering with Science Discovery of CU who has had a very long-term relationship with this particular area, running many workshops that are quite popular there. Unfortunately, the strong partnership was not enough to get over the hump of the resistance to this topic.

  • Icon for: Dilafruz Williams

    Dilafruz Williams

    Principal Investigator/Director/Professor
    May 21, 2016 | 03:00 p.m.

    I found the project’s emphasis on contextualizing learning in students’ community to be compelling for investigating their motivation and engagement. I am curious about your results and your theoretical model for motivational development. Are your results available? I am interested, since our DRK12 project also studies motivational engagement among middle schoolers along with development of STEM identity. Our project is Science in the Learning Gardens: Factors that Support Racial and Ethnic Minority Students’ Success in Low-income Middle Schools. It would be wonderful to see if there are overlaps. Also, I particularly liked that teachers are invested, as our model, too, supports teachers in designing the curriculum aligned with NGSS and using the garden as milieu for learning. Partnerships work when there is ownership among the constituents. Thank you for an exciting project!

  • Icon for: Sameer Honwad

    Sameer Honwad

    Co-Presenter
    May 21, 2016 | 07:16 p.m.

    Dlilaruz, Thanks for your comments. We have just started to analyze some our data on motivation. Along with surveys we also interviewed the students to understand whether our approach helped with motivation. We will have some of our data analyzed by the end of the summer. We would be happy to share the results with you. As Michael mentioned in his response above, one area we are currently discussing within our group is how to continue to support the teachers once the grant money runs out. We would like to know if there are ways we can make their involvement and investment sustainable. I am curious to know if you have any insights into how you would sustain teacher involvement once your DRK-12 funding is over.

  • Icon for: May Jadallah

    May Jadallah

    Associate Professor
    May 22, 2016 | 10:28 p.m.

    This is a fantastic project. How do you define systems thinking? How many students and teachers have you been able to engage in the project so far?

  • Icon for: Erica Jablonski

    Erica Jablonski

    Co-Presenter
    May 23, 2016 | 09:58 a.m.

    Dear May,

    Thanks so much for your interest and excellent questions. In response to your first question, in our project we have defined a system as all the parts and their dynamic relationships to one another, composing a complex whole. To assess systems thinking we examine student work for the presence of distinct parts and connections within a bounded practice, such as dam, a lumber mill, or the operation of a building, such as a library. We also look for student demonstrations of inputs, outputs and feedback loops within the systems they display. We are currently in the process of developing and testing an analytic methodology expressly for this purpose and hope to present more about it at next year’s science education conferences. To answer your second question, we have been fortunate to have had over 35 teachers or afterschool program mentors implement the SPIRALS program with over 500 students to date. As enrollment is open for the summer and fall semester we hope to expand the reach of the project to even more teachers, mentors, and learners.

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.