|Mentors' Area||Expectations for Teachers|
Expectations of Teachers
This area is presented here so that the mentors know what expectations have been shared with the KanCRN teachers.
Expectations of Technology - A KanCRN teacher should have access to Internet email and the World Wide Web. It is most helpful if this access is both at home and at school.
Expectations of Time - KanCRN projects are a significant committment of time. Teachers should be prepared to check e-mail and KanCRN discussions daily if possible. It is important that teachers are prompt in their interactions with mentors and with students. Long periods of time (48 hours or longer) passing without response can discourage mentors or students. While some teachers may participate in projects all year long, other teachers may choose to participate during specific semesters or portions of semesters. It should be noted that student research is a long term committment and students will need a great deal of time and guidance in order to be successful. Often teachers allow one day per week or more for project work. It is suggested that teachers divide up portions of the research work, (eg. background research work, defining the research question, conducting experiments, publishing results) set deadlines for each portion and allow students appropriate amounts of class time to complete the tasks.
Relationships and Ettiquette - Teachers need to be very conscious of the social relationships which must develop between themselves and the mentor as well as the relationship between the mentor's parent company or organization and the mentor and the KanCRN project as a whole. Care must be taken to be respectful of the time and resources of the mentor and the company or organization. Donated time cannot be taken for granted. Expressions of appreciation for this time are very important. Additionally, inviting an interested telementor to present to students face to face can provide a real person to connect with the electronic communications.
Protocols and Instructions for Teachers
Below is a progression of levels in which it is suggested that students and teachers participate. While in no way do we wish to indicate a rigid sequence or a cookie cutter approach to research, the steps below should be a logical approach to improving students thinking and research skills.
Select the On-line Project Which is Most Appropriate to Your Curriculum and Instruction Needs - A starting place for teachers and students is to read and participate in one of the on-line project protocols as outlined on the KanCRN server. The particular project which a teacher begins with will depend upon the level of the students, the materials available and the time constraints of the school schedule. Because some of the KanCRN projects require that data be collected on the same date a schedule of data collection calendars is available to assist teachers in scheduling participation in these projects.
Have Students Participate in the Online Project - The first task for students unfamiliar with the research process would be to work through a guided practice of research techniques using the protocols and data submission form tools on the KanCRN server. Below are some suggested stages in that process. It is suggested that this stage be completed in the fall so that by the spring semester students can move on to more independent research.
1) Discuss with students with each other, their mentor, and the teacher, the background research articles found on the KanCRN server. Have students conduct and discuss additional library or Internet research on the same topic. Follow this research up with short written or oral reports on the subject.
2) Have students collect data according to the specified protocol found on the server.
3) Have students state a simple research question which is relevant to the data collection protocols specified in the project. For example, as students look at the daily ground level ozone readings of their own school and compare that to another school they might ask if the schools have differing quantities of ground level ozone.
4) Investigate possible solutions to their research question by using data on the KanCRN server. The students can download the ozone levels from their own school and another school looking for dates in which both schools took readings on the same day. These values can be put in a spreadsheet or graphed in some other way with bar graphs or line graphs to make comparisons. Elementary students should create tables, charts and visual representations of the data which assist in comparing schools. Middle and upper elementary school students should calculate a mean, median and mode for each of the schools and compare those measures of central tendency. Middle and high school students can create stem and leaf plots, box plots and scatter plots of the data. High school students should be taught how to calculate a standard deviation for each school to compare the variability of the data. High school students can also use appropriate statistics such as a t - test in order to compare means for significant differences.
5) Have students create a short summary of their research and place it on a poster. They then give a brief poster session presentation of their findings. Other students or invited mentors in the class can be a designated audience and provide valuable feedback and thoughts on this first research experience
Have Students Formulate and Investigate Their Own Research Question Related to the Online Project - Once a student has gone through the process of formulating a question, conducting an experimental protocol, and analyzing and reporting their results they should be in a position of trying another question in a more independent fashion. They will need much assistance from their mentor and their teacher in accomplishing this. This work should be related to the general topic of one of the KanCRN projects. For example, a group of students who have experienced the ground level ozone protocol may think of a related question which interests them. Such a question might be, "Is ground level ozone measured in higher quantities near a large shopping center parking lot compared with an open woodlot 1 mile away?" The group of students would plan and conduct the necessary research to answer their question. They would obtain suggestions from their mentor about the appropriateness of their question and the effectiveness of a proposed experimental procedure in answering the question. They would refine and conduct their research and submit the results to the spin-off section of the KanCRN server. This section requires that they submit the following pieces; 1.) Research Title, 2.) Research Question, 3.) Literature Review, 4.) Experimental Method, 5.) Results of the Study, 6.) Data Analysis, 7.) Conclusions, and 8.) Extensions. The students should also produce a poster session or a complete oral presentation with multimedia or visuals for presenting their work. This work is then presented at the KanCRN student conference in the spring. A good way for the teacher to organize this work is to provide target dates for the completion of each of the 8 pieces listed above and to provide periodic "work days" for the students to conduct the work, contact mentors, create presentations, etc. The work can be collected and refined on a word processor and then cut and pasted into the KanCRN server when in a final form. The work should be spread out over a number of weeks and started early enough that it could be finished in mid Spring (April).
Have Students Formulate and Investigate an Entirely Independent Research Question - Students who have been through at least one years experience in conducting research can now be moved to a more independent format. KanCRN has a section available to students and amateur scientists for posting of research regardless of the topic. These more experienced students can plan, conduct and publish their original research work on the KanCRN web server. They should also prepare to present a poster session or a formal presentation session at the KanCRN Student Conference in the Spring. Again, teachers must provide guidance, set timetables and provide time for students to complete such work.
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