VC Workshop, Alberta Education Edmonton April 27, 2007

 Examine the effects of an inquiry learning environment with the support of broadband interactive media (i.e. videoconferencing), on both rural and urban secondary students’ mathematics and science learning.
• • Connect classes with role models - scientists and mathematicians, e.g. virtual visitations. Collaborative learning and interaction with role models.

Results First 
 Significant math achievement gain  Students’ broadened understanding of math and science concept  Students’ enlarged view about careers related to math and science  Students’ increased confidence and interest in math and science learning

The project…
 Linking students with:
• • • • Female role models Other disciplines Real life Technology

The Participants…
An urban school (all girls)
• • • • • 2 grade 9 classes 42 Female Students No control 2 Math/Science Teachers 1 Humanities Teacher

A rural school (co-ed) 3 grade 8 classes 1 treatment (26 students) 2 control (41 students) 1 math teacher

We start with…
Teachers, researchers, role models meet and decide:  The most appropriate topics for students
• • • Their interest challenging topics - 2D & 3D Chemistry

 Align with the curriculum

As well…
Together we made sure….  Align with the role model’s expertise
• • • • Biodiversity Chemistry Admin. Support (urban) Need from the teacher (rural)

 Multidisciplinary approach

Students worked on…
 Bear project
• Math concepts
• • 2D, 3D Statistics (mean, std. dev) Biodiversity Reading Skills , Media Analysis, Letter Writing,    Perspectives

• •

Science concepts
• •


 Gemstone project
• • Chemistry Social Studies

The Big Question
 How does understanding multiple perspectives shape the way we live in the world?
• In what ways does diversity shape our understanding? This question guided both the teachers and the students for the whole semester.

Set the stage…
 News articles  Curriculum newsletter
• • • Students Parents Admin.

 Initial tasks  Videos  Web resources Each aspect - students are a integral part …

Integrating Science Curriculum: Biodiversity
 Task 1: Investigate and Interpret Diversity • Among species and within species • How does diversity contributes to species survival?  Task 2: Investigate Reproductive Processes • Role in transmitting species characteristics  Task 3: Role of Genetics • • Continuity and variation of species characteristics Reproductive technologies

 Task 4: Impacts of Human Action • Species survival and variation within species • Personal and public decision making


News Article Deconstruction

Student-Identified Perspectives…
 Economic  Agriculture  Environmental  Recreational  Political  Scientific  Educational  Ecological  Ego-centric  Humanistic  Social  Ethical  Medical  Technological

Student Inquiries…
Where can I find more information?
What about other species? Is this a new problem? Is it only bears in Alberta and BC?

How can I help the bears?

Who is studying the bears?

Can I quantify the problem?

Student Resources
        Current Events Videos Text Books, School Materials Data Analysis Non-profit Organizations Government Virtual Mentor Independent Learning

Hands-On Learning…
CPAWS Genetics Card Game  Demonstrates:
• • Gene pool diversity Influence of natural & manmade boundaries

 Connections to body image

Data Analysis
 Using critical analysis skills to address issues from student inquiries

Text Book Resources
 Extirpation  Bioindicator species  Islands of isolated populations  Possible problems with isolation  Farming's affect on bear populations  Hunting of bears

What about VC?
 A total of 4 vc sessions, each has  Pre- session preparation, e.g.
• • GPS Intro to basic math/science concepts

 VC session culminates the learning experience  Post-session reflection
• • •

Consolidate student learning Feedback for next vc session (e.g. boredom) Formative evaluation for teachers

Role of the Virtual Mentor
 Role model  Provide expertise  Relate science and math to real-world Grizzly Bears
• GPS, Remote Sensing • Geography, Mapping • Graphing • Area, Perimeter • Statistics • Biology • Humanities


• Geology • Mineralogy • Chemistry • 3-D shapes • Economics • Humanities

Virtual Visitation
 What does it look like? (movie) 

Habitat Area
 How can you use math to describe a bear’s habitat?  What other methods could you use?


Grizzly Bear Habitat

Latitude (degrees)




51.00 -116.00









Longitude (degrees)

Bear Habitat Area
 Some Geometry…
• Area of a Circle: π x R2 • Circumference of a circle: π x 2 x R

 How might we define the location of the center of the circle?

Back to school…
 Students are asked to focus on tasks that would answer some questions posed by the role model…

Rocky Mountain Foothills Habitat
 Tell me more…
• Describe the habitat of your bears. • What are important features for bear habitat? • Are the requirements different for different bear species? Bears of different gender? • What risks do humans pose to bear habitat?

Shape of the Beam
 When GPS sends a signal to the Earth, what shape does the beam make?

What area of the ground does the beam cover?

Area = πr2 Perimeter = 2πr

What recommendations would you make to the government to protect the habitat of your bears?

 Area/perimeter used in math, science, & real life, e.g.
• Task: how do the scientific studies of biodiversity and bears connect to our work with area and perimeter?

 Math and science with humanities
• e.g. writing letters to Ralph, Ministers

Connections: Relating Math & Humanities


Bears need their own area and area is the surface of this space When tracking bears with radio collars, scientists can map out the area(s) in which they go in Using the proper formula scientists can figure out the measurement of a bear’s habitat Bears and humans need their own area We need to put aside space (area) for them Humans have a lot more area than bears because there are more of us than them Bears use to have an area from Canada to Mexico Sometimes bears got outside of their areas and sometimes humans go into their’s

Business Letters  Provincial Government  Minister of Sustainable Resource Development

Academic Influence
 Creative visual study guides  Confidence in curriculum material

Challenges (pedagogy)
 Initial novelty wore down…
• Design tasks/focus for students in vc sessions
• Pre- plan from role model • Develop tasks for students

• More interactive approach
• Question-answer • Student presentation

More challenges (technology)
 Bandwidth/network issue –causing delays in sound transmission and broken picture frames
• • Whole school network shut down Different day, back up plan important

Still more…
 Physical setting
• Visual – Camera and Monitor limitations how many/what you can see, how can you arrange the sitting of students • Audit – can you hear?

More challenges
 Role models’ familiarity with pedagogy, curriculum
• Supply lists of important concepts • Learning along the way
• How to teach • How to present using vc (e.g. facial expression) • Importance of teacher as facilitator

Even more…are you ever going to stop?
 Role model
• Eye contact • Body-language • Encouraging Participation • Distraction (e.g. buttons) • Classroom control Highlight the importance of the in-class facilitators (teachers)

 Quantitative  Qualitative

Findings (quantitative)…
 Achievementtreatment vs. control, a marginally significant gain (P=.056)

Sign. Achievement gain:
• Post-test vs. pre-test

Findings (qualitative)…
 Connecting students with female role model using vc, coupled with the inquiry approaches, can bolster student interest in math/science.

 Broadened students’ views about math- and science- related careers.

Increased student confidence level
• Social responsibility (letters to government officials) • Body image

 Broader understanding of math and science:
• • • • Take ownership of their learning (e.g. willingness to share their learning) To analyze significant issues (e.g. biodiversity, backed scientifically by extensive research) To examine the world from multiple perspectives (news articles, realize that media does not always portray a full scope of the issues) To challenge what is often taken for granted (understand human impact on nature that can be positive, preventative, and proactive)

 Students realize they ARE cared about (interview)!

Findings (teachers)…
 Enhanced teachers’ understanding about technology integration and feminist pedagogy
• Heightened awareness of gender issues • Changed teaching practices

Questions? Dr. Qing Li
Sponsors: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada University of Calgary