How to learn modeling discourse management

(circle whiteboarding, board meetings)


For modeling discourse management, student discourse is in a circle, so it is also called circle whiteboarding, or "board meetings". It is useful in ALL sciences, and at ALL levels from grade 8 and up.


Suggestions to learn modeling discourse management (compiled in 2014 by Jane Jackson):


 *  The first thing to do is to get a bird's eye view: study videos of it, at

  1) A 2-minute video of Matt Greenwolfe, a Modeling Workshop leader in North Carolina:

                M.Greenwolfe on NBC17 News

  2) A 13-minute video of Dwain Desbien: Highlights of a Bouncing Ball

  3)  (If you teach physics): The 40-minute video of the same class

  4)  (Optional: it wasn't quite as successful): The 40-minute video of Newton's 3rd Law.

  See also:

  5)   A 12-minute video of Seth Guinal-Kupperman's high school physics class in NYC:

       Link to it at the AMTA website:

     Or go directly to


* Then download and study the excerpts from Colleen Megowan's and Dwain Desbien's PhD dissertations.  All are at

      in the section on Discourse in the Modeling Classroom.


(Dwain's is also at the AMTA website: <>


Colleen Megowan's doctoral dissertation was research on the productivity of discourse in physics modeling courses. She called such problems as lab practica or Dwain Desbien's open-ended problems “Practicing-with-the-Model” problems. Students can solve Practicing-with-the Model problems ONLY if they think in models and use diagrams and graphs. Practicing-with-the-Model problems open like a funnel, rather than narrow to an insignificant point we refer to as “the answer.” Exclusive use of equations and plug and chug utterly fails. Colleen found that the single most significant factor in fostering productive discourse was the problem type.  Practicing-with-the-Model problems generated the best discussions.



* Download John Crookston's Action Research report for his MNS degree at ASU:

   Implementing Modeling Discourse Management in High School Physics -- (47 pg, 2006 )


          in the section on Action Research.



*  Download "Implicit action": Understanding discourse management in modeling instruction

           by Jared Durden, Eric Brewe, and Laird H. Kramer  (PERC 2011),




*  Peruse some compilations on circle whiteboarding, at

    e.g., this one by Dwain Desbien:

and at

  e.g., Whiteboarding: modeling discourse management (circle whiteboarding in grade 8 to 12) (2005)

   & Whiteboarding: ending student resistance to modeling discourse management (2005)



* IF YOU TEACH PHYSICS:  Matt Greenwolfe contributed 80 resources for mechanics Units 1 to 9, that he designed to put more models in Modeling Instruction  -- to make models USEFUL to students -- and to foster use of graphical methods to solve problems -- all in the context of modeling discourse management.


Why did he do this?  Because he read Colleen and Dwain's dissertations, and applied them.


Matt developed four aids to solving Practicing-with-the-Model problems.

  1. Matched modeling problems .

  2. Scaffolding.

  3. Model summary boards.

  4.  Concept maps (starting in Unit 5, when we have four basic models).


Read Matt's 6-page introduction on these four aids. And read his powerpoint, both at

  in the section on Discourse in the Modeling Classroom.

AMTA members can download his zipped file called "More models in modeling" on the AMTA website: in the members only section.