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What’s this Summer Workshop All About?

If you haven’t been to our Summer Workshop, you may be wondering what’s so special about this one.  The Summer Workshop is an annual event to bring together a community of biology faculty for a week of exploring new tools and good pedagogies for teaching biology. This focus on community is what makes this event special, exciting, fun and valuable.  This year’s workshop is sponsored by BioQUEST, QUBES, and Science Case Net. All three of these organizations focus on building and supporting community and the workshop reflects the value of sharing materials, tools, and best practices.  Beyond sharing useful resources, members of these communities support one another as they strive to improve their teaching.  It’s a wonderful thing to have trusted colleagues who will provide real world feedback, ideas, and information to help one another through the challenges inherent in improving classroom practices. 

The QUBES community, of course, is all about teaching quantitative biology and this year’s theme “Making Meaning Through Modeling” includes mathematical modeling, but also addresses the other types of modeling we use in the classroom such as visual or physical models.  We have a great lineup of speakers who will talk about how the variety of models we use can help students learn biological concepts, engage in deeper scientific thinking, and synthesize information.  Our speakers will address how models are used in their own biological and mathematical research, their research on pedagogical practices with modeling, and how modeling fits into the larger educational experience for students.  (Check out the speaker schedule for more information.)

The workshop schedule is an intense mix of events that emphasizes time to work with colleagues.  We start with a poster session, where you can share what you do and learn what others are doing. (Here’s what people shared last year.)  On Monday, participants choose from a selection of two hour sessions that cover new tools, good pedagogical approaches, and resources. Among the offerings this year are presentations on 3D molecular modeling, addressing math anxiety, using tools such as R and excel, and introducing mathematical modeling. These sessions are hands on opportunities for you to learn new tools, try out new teaching methods and add to your teaching toolbox.  On Tuesday, participants form small groups to try out their new tools as researchers.  When was the last time you got to ask a question and explore it, just because it was interesting?  This is your opportunity to have some fun with new ideas.  On Wednesday we get back to working on the classroom!  Participants form groups and work together on projects for their classrooms.  Since there isn’t time to generate a finished project at the workshop, the QUBESHub supports group work for a full semester following the workshop.  If you’ve participated in a Faculty Mentoring Network, this is a very similar model.  For those who are new to QUBES, you’ll have the opportunity to work online with your colleagues to finish your classroom materials, implement and edit your materials, and a place to publicly share your materials with the QUBES community.  Which brings us back to the very important aspect of community.  Participants in this workshop will leave with new resources for the classroom, but more importantly, they leave with new colleagues with whom they may continue to share the joys and frustrations of teaching.  You will leave exhausted, excited and looking forward to trying out new ideas in the Fall. 

Visit the workshop website for more information: https://qubeshub.org/groups/summer2017  Make sure to apply by the April 23 extended deadline, and bring a friend!  

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