MIST Workshop Trains Teachers in
Merit Instructional Style

Teachers perform hands-on activity during biology session.
Teachers collaborate on activity during biology session.

August 29, 2012

For three days at the beginning of August, the MIST (Merit Immersion for Students and Teachers) program hosted the MIST Summer Teacher Workshop for 52 high school and community college teachers. After being exposed to training by the directors of Illinois' Merit Program, the teachers returned home armed with new strategies and materials they themselves had developed for use in their classrooms this fall.

The workshop trained teachers to use the Merit system, which uses the collaborative learning model. This involves students working in groups to solve problems related to the material which has been presented during lectures. The Chemistry, Integrated Biology, and Mathematics departments on campus offer Merit sections for a number of courses.

Many of the teachers attended as part of a team from the same school/district. While most were from the regional area (Chicago and St Louis), a few were from farther away, including Arkansas and as far away as California.

The workshop first introduced teachers to Illinois' Merit Program and gave them the chance to experience the Merit teaching style. Teachers were then given the opportunity to discuss what aspects of the program they would like to implement in their own classrooms. Finally, they worked in groups to complete hands-on projects in biology, chemistry, or mathematics; create their own Merit-style materials; then participate in a peer review of those materials with the goal of leaving with worksheets or activites that were ready to implement in their classrooms this year.

Jennifer McNeilly works with teachers during a math breakout session.
Jennifer McNeilly works with teachers during a math breakout session.

According to Jennifer McNeilly, Director of the Mathematics Merit Program at Illinois, this years workshop was "perhaps the best one yet!" She reported that "The teachers were actively involved in all the discussions we had and all of the activities we asked them to complete. They asked really good questions throughout the workshop and appreciated the time to work with other teachers to create classroom materials. Many of them were clearly excited to hear we hope to hold a follow-up meeting this fall! We cram a lot into two and a half days and understand that it can be a bit exhausting for everyone. So we were glad to hear they were still excited at the end."

Teacher performs procedure during the chemistry breakout session.
Teacher performs procedure during the chemistry breakout session.

Workshop participants intended to use what they had learned to change their classroom instruction, particularly the way they manage learning groups. "Many teachers talked about changing the way they facilitate group work in their classroom with the intention of trying to get the students to discuss things more with each other rather than always relying on them as the teacher," reported McNeilly. "Others talked about asking more questions that lead to higher-order thinking."

Not only did teachers intend to change their own instructional methods, but hoped to impact their schools as well. According to McNeilly, "Several teams of teachers talked about going back to their school and trying to share what they learned in this workshop with other teachers to possibly even change the culture in not only their individual classrooms but possibly in the school as a whole."

Teachers in the MIST biology session discuss the next step.
Teachers in the MIST biology session discuss the next step.

Teachers were also pleased that the worshop gave them time each day to collaborate with other teachers. McNeilly reported that "They really seemed to appreciate the time to not only meet teachers from other schools and areas but also appreciated the time to work with others from their own school. Many of them expressed how hard it is to spend large chunks of time creating materials together during the school year, so they really liked the fact that we gave them work time each day. We've set up a Moodle site and hope to continue to post new resources there as well as encourage the teachers to share resources they develop throughout the year. Many teachers were excited to have the chance to keep in touch with others from the workshop and also looked forward to interacting with past workshop participants."

Gretchen Adams works with teachers during the chemistry activity session.
Gretchen Adams works with teachers during the chemistry activity session.

Regarding the workshop, McNeilly appreciated interacting with the teachers. "It was really wonderful to work with so many great teachers who are clearly dedicated to their students! It was also great to see so many of them get excited about new things they planned to try this year in the classroom!"

Story by Elizabeth Innes, Communications Specialist, I-STEM Education Initiative

Photographs by Elizabeth Innes and Christy Glaze, I-STEM Education Initiative.
More: Teacher Professional Development, 2012

MIST Teacher Workshop 2012 participants
MIST Teacher Workshop 2012 participants.




Nobel Project’s End-of-Year Zoom Bash Recaps Learning

February 1, 2022
The STEM Illinois Nobel Project held a special, end-of-the-year Zoom event celebrating its participating students’ achievements.
Full Story

It’s not magic, it’s physics

January 26, 2022
In Franklin STEAM Academy, Musical Magnetism program makes STEM fun, approachable.
Full Story

Program prepares STEM educators to teach all students

November 30, 2021
This summer, a group of educators gathered to learn about engaging STEM activities they can do with their students.
Full Story

Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program

November 11, 2021
Undergrads get a taste of research through I-MRSEC’s REU program.
Full Story

Goldstein’s Renaissance Engineering Summer Camp

November 1, 2021
Goldstein’s Renaissance Engineering Summer Camp Incorporates Art, Design, Mechatronics, and Mentoring
Full Story

TechTogether Chicago to Redefine the Hacker Stereotype

July 10, 2021
New workshops that can help inspire students to pursue careers in technology..
Full Story

Aerospace Engineering Launches Virtual Summer Camps to Pique Students’ Interest in Aero.

July 2, 2021
Design an aircraft then watch it soar after launching it with a huge rubber band. Build a Mars lander to safely transport a real egg, then test the contraption by dropping it from a second story window.
Full Story

Undergrads Experience Materials Science Research Courtesy of the I-MRSEC REU

June 16, 2021
Ten undergraduate students are spending the summer of 2021 discovering what research is like.
Full Story

MatSE Afterschool Academy

MatSE Afterschool Academy

June 14, 2021
MatSE Afterschool Academy to Introduce Students to Materials Science and Beyond.
Full Story

Taylor Tucker Embraces Multidisciplinary Interest

Taylor Tucker Embraces Multidisciplinary Interest

June 14, 2021
Taylor Tucker Embraces Multidisciplinary Interest While Researching Task Collaboration.
Full Story

Exposes Franklin Middle Schoolers to Science, CS

What Studying Engineering at Illinois is Like?

May 25, 2021
NSBE’s Michaela Horn Exposes Franklin Middle Schoolers to Science, CS, and What Studying Engineering at Illinois is Like.
Full Story

Jenny Saves a Convertible.

Children’s-Book-Writing Duo/

May 19, 2021
Convertibles and Thunderstorms—Children’s-Book-Writing Duo on Their Way Thanks to Illinois Training and Encouragement from Mentors.
Full Story

Improve Learning in Engineering

Improve Learning in Engineering

May 17, 2021
Liebenberg Espouses Mini-Projects to Engage Students Emotionally, Improve Learning in Engineering.
Full Story

Joshua Whitely makes an adjustment to the 3D Bioprinter during the demo.

BIOE435 Capstone Projects

May 12, 2021
BIOE435 Capstone Projects - BIOE Seniors Use Knowledge/Skills to Problem Solve.
Full Story

Elani and Gonzalo shine a UV light on a rose that has absorbed a solution that has made it fluorescent.

Illinois Scientists Shine a (UV) Light on Fluorescence

May 7, 2021
What is fluorescence? What causes it?
Full Story

Joshua Whitely makes an adjustment to the 3D Bioprinter during the demo.

HackIllinois 2021 “Rekindled Connections” With The Tech Community

May 5, 2021
Annual student hackathon HackIllinois with the aim of developing projects on current problems facing society.
Full Story

A Shane Mayer-Gawlik image of the Bridger Aurora, part of his Night Skies photography collection exhibited at the Art-Science Festival.

The Art-Science Festival

April 26, 2021
Illinois Art-Science Festival: Illuminating the Universe...from the Quantum World to the Cosmos.
Full Story

Joshua Whitely makes an adjustment to the 3D Bioprinter during the demo.

Illinois Engineering Seniors Prepared to Change the World

April 22, 2021
Ready. Set. Go! Illinois Engineering Seniors Prepared to Change the World.
Full Story

HML 2021 Virtual Health

HML 2021 Virtual Health

April 19, 2021
Make-a-Thon Gives Citizen Scientists a Shot at Making Their Health-Related Innovations a Reality.
Full Story

I-MRSEC’s Music Video

I-MRSEC’s Music Video

April 7, 2021
I-MRSEC’s Music Video for EOH ’21 Plugs Graphene, 2D Materials
Full Story

Health Make-a-Thon Orientation

HML 2021 Health Orientation

March 30, 2021
HML 2021 Health Make-a-Thon Orientation Prepares Finalists for Competition.
Full Story

Andrea Perry shows Franklin students how to take apart the magnetic drawing board they received in their kit

Musical Magnetism

March 25, 2021
Musical Magnetism: Encouraging Franklin Middle Schoolers to Express Science Via the Arts.
Full Story

Carmen Paquette street performing.

Love of Science

March 9, 2021
Paquette Conveys Her Love of Science, Dance to Franklin STEAM Students Via Musical Magnetism.
Full Stroy

An Engineering Exploration participant exhibits the tower they built as part of the engineering challenge related to Civil Engineering

Engineering Exploration

March 2, 2021
SWE’s Engineering Exploration Outreach Lives Up to Its Name.

ChiS&E’s Family STEM Day

ChiS&E’s Family STEM Day

February 23, 2021
Helps Chicago Youngsters Progress Along the STEM Pipeline Toward Engineering.

Kathny Walsh

Kathy Walsh

February 17, 2021
On Her First Foray into STEAM, Kathy Walsh Acquaints Franklin Students with Microscopy, Haiku.

ChiS&E student

ChiS&E CPS Students

January 19, 2021
Illinois Undergrads Encourage ChiS&E CPS Students Toward Possible Careers in Engineering.

I-MRSEC’s Music Video

CISTEME365 Provides Year-Round PD/Community

January 4, 2021
to Illinois Teachers in Support of Informal STEM Education Efforts to Underserved Students.