Sunday, April 24, 2011

Making Connections to Deepen Learning (Via Mr. Wood's AP Biology Class)

Senior Ryan Knox did more than just look at words on a page in his research. 

When Mr. Wood handed his AP Biology students an assignment that involved following a scientist, Ryan Knox did a bit more than just find information about his scientist from the internet.  Ryan chose to connect with Marc Normandin, a postdoctoral research fellow at Yale University, who is an expert on positron emission tomography (PET).

While Ryan would have found enough information to write an effective summary of Dr. Normandin's work from his web page and the numerous links to his publications and presentations, it is a certainty that he would not have gained the deeper awareness about the man behind the accomplishments without making a personal connection. 

The e-mail exchange allowed Ryan to learn specific details about the path that Dr. Normandin has taken from his undergraduate work at the University of Rhode Island, his doctoral work at Purdue, and his current postdoctoral work at Yale.  Here is a copy of the entire e-mail Ryan received from Dr. Normandin.

Thanks to Ryan and Mr. Wood for sharing their excitement over the connection Ryan was able to make with Dr. Normandin on this research paper.  Also, thanks to Dr. Normandin for taking the time to provide Ryan with such  a detailed response and the offer for Ryan to use him as a resource in the future.

These are the types of connections that we should strive for all students as we look to extend their learning beyond the information on the page and into real interactions with those who are experts in the areas they are studying.

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