Tuesday, June 16, 2015


One day to go!

So the #MiModPhys15 workshop starts tomorrow here in Grand Rapids and I couldn't be more excited.  And this year, I am nervous as hell!  What is up with that?  This is the 6th year that I've been running (with great co-facilitators) a modeling workshop; you'd think that after all of this time I'd be less anxious, not more.  But alas, that's how I'm feeling.  I told my wife, "I'm in full on freak out mode!"  I suppose once I get into the workshop room and set up I will start feeling a little better but right now I am so excited I feel like I'm going to explode.

Let's talk about Grand Rapids...how fired up am I that we're in Beer City?  For those of you who know me you know I'm a big time beer drinker; not big enough to brew my own, but I love a good IPA.  So to be in a place where they are plentiful excites me beyond words.  I am not sure how much it'll help my productivity but I have my list and I'm ready to get a start on it.

One of the aspects of a good modeling workshop (both my opinion and that of David Hestenes) is a community feel that comes from; 1 the group learning and 2 a sense of community that stems from social interaction outside of the workshop.  How do the facilitators create that sense?  First of all, it is difficult.  The workshop itself is a very intense 8-4 experience.  On to of that we ask the participants to do homework.  The nerve!  Does anyone really want to hang out with the facilitators and other participants after a full day of doing so with an hours worth of readings looming?

The original modeling workshops were held at Arizona State University.  That means that 
most of the participants had flown in and many were staying in the dorms together.  There was an instant sense of community because we were all staying in the same place.  With our workshop there are some people staying in hotels, some at home and some camping (at least I think there are some camping).  So how do we create this feel with such a disparate experience.  

I vote for beer.  

I don't mean that we have been during the workshop (although there are times when I am sure it would help).  But I mean more than beer that communal experiences like going to a bar that create this feel.  I would like this to be more than just something that we do in the day, I want it to be something that we reflect on for years to come; "Remember that summer when we did that workshop in Grand Rapids..." that is the kind of experience I am looking to provide for the participants.

The whole goal for the workshop is to:


Anything less is a missed opportunity.  The participants come to me having committed so much time and energy to what they hope is a worthwhile pursuit.  The goal is to help them see that not only is it worthwhile, but meaningful; life changing!  If at the end of the workshop you don't feel that I've helped you change your life, I have wasted your time.  

So how do I combine an increased knowledge of content with an advanced pedagogy and a communal, social learning experience?  Modeling workshop.

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