Teacher Workshops

Chemistry and Physics Modeling Instruction

Course Description

This Modeling Instruction workshop is an award-winning professional development experience for preservice or in-service high school science teachers who want to create student-centered, active-inquiry classrooms.  It will include a week of physics (mechanics) and a week of chemistry instruction.

Modeling Instruction is a complex, transformative pedagogy developed at Arizona State University and championed by the American Modeling Teachers Association (AMTA). It expresses an emphasis on making and using conceptual models of physical and chemical phenomena as central to learning and doing science. Modeling Instruction was designated in 2000 by the U.S. Department of Education as one of the seven best K-12 educational technology programs out of 134 programs evaluated.

Workshop leaders will take participants through several “modeling cycles” in hands-on/minds-on experiences dealing with various physics and chemistry topics. Working closely with colleagues, participants will practice teaching students to design experiments, reason from data and to develop, modify, and deploy scientific models.

List of 9 items.

  • Who Can Register?

    Preservice or in-service high school science teachers
  • Cost

  • Lodging and Accommodations

    Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Richmond Midlothian
    150 N Pinetta Dr, Richmond, VA 23235
    (804) 447-8326

    Four Points by Sheraton Richmond
    9901 Midlothian Turnpike, Richmond, VA 23235
    (804) 323-1144

    La Quinta by Wyndham Richmond-Midlothian
    1301 Huguenot Rd, Midlothian, VA 23113
    (804) 794-4999

    Hampton Inn Richmond-Midlothian Turnpike
    800 Research Rd, Richmond, VA 23236
    (804) 897-2800
  • Credits Available

    Participants can
    • register for up to 3 hours of graduate credit through Dominican University for $100 per credit
    • earn 80 professional development points toward license renewal
  • Dates

    July 8 - July 19, 2019, every Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

    *There will be Skype follow-ups during the school year. 
  • Application Deadline

    Applications are due April 15, 2019. 
  • Instructors

    Mary Battershell Whalen
    Sarah Palmer
    Laura Swiatek (

    Elizabeth Kelley ( is an additional point of contact for administrative information about this workshop.
  • Modeling on Twitter

    To see what educators around the world are doing with Modeling Instruction, try searching these hashtags:
    • #AMTAteachers
    • #modchem
    • #modphys
    • #modbio
  • Why Register?

    This course is perfect for you if you are interested in active-learning or inquiry-based instruction techniques, if your institution is considering aligning with NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards), or if you'd like to infuse new ideas into your existing lesson plans.

No other professional development activity has enriched my practice as much as the Modeling Instruction workshops have. It has dramatically shifted the way I view my role in the classroom and the way my students interact with content to construct scientific knowledge. It has been incredible to see how well students can engage in doing authentic scientific inquiry when we let them! -Laura Swiatek

Course Features

  • Content is organized around a small set of basic models (rather than a lengthy list of topics) to increase its structural coherence.
  • Participants will practice techniques of guided inquiry, Socratic questioning, and cooperative learning that will enable them to foster scientific discourse among students and use that discourse for assessment.
  • Workshop leaders are prepared to integrate technology (such as electronic probes) and give participants new ideas about how to implement it.
  • Participants are supplied with a complete set of course materials and work through activities alternating in the roles of student or teacher.
  • First-time participants in full workshops are eligible for a free 1-year membership in AMTA, including access to all AMTA curriculum materials.
  • Participants will also build a network of educators with whom to collaborate!
  • Participants can elect to register for up to 3 hours of graduate credit through Dominican University for $100/credit.
  • Workshop leaders have attended multiple Modeling Instruction workshops and have considerable experience teaching using this method.

About the Instructor

Sarah Palmer has been teaching for 13 years. Upon graduation from The Ohio State University with a B.S. in Microbiology, she realized the life of a research scientist was not for her. While working with students during month-long field ecology summer trips, she decided to pursue a career in education and earned an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from Ashland University. Currently teaching Honors and AP Chemistry at Olentangy High School, Sarah is also interested in standards-based grading, Modeling Instruction, and understanding more about how students learn to think.

About the Instructor

Laura Swiatek is in her eighth year of teaching. She earned her B.A. in Neuroscience from Vassar College and her M.Ed. in Adolescent-to-Young Adult Integrated Science Instruction from Ohio University. Currently, she teaches IB Chemistry Higher Level, Chemistry 2 and Honors Chemistry at Trinity Episcopal School in Richmond, VA. She has also taught various levels of Biology and Environmental Science. She and fellow modeling instructor Sarah Palmer have published an article on how Modeling Instruction facilitated their collaboration.

About the Instructor

Mary Battershell Whalen has been teaching physics for over 25 years. After earning her B.S. in Physics & Acoustics at Penn State, Mary started her teaching career with Teach For America in Arkansas. She later earned her M.Ed. in Math, Science, and Technology Education from the Ohio State University and is currently teaching Physics and AP Physics at Olentangy High School near Columbus, Ohio. Outside of the classroom, Mary has led Modeling Instruction workshops for other educators, is an AP Physics reader, and is active in the American Association of Physics Teachers.

Trinity Episcopal School

3850 Pittaway Drive | Richmond, Virginia 23235 Phone: 804.272.5864 Fax: 804.272.4652 Email: