Testimonials

Here you may review selected testimonials from state and district administrators, university professors, and teachers who utilize the NSTA Learning Center tools and resources. Select which type of quotes you would like to review:

What Administrators Say:

Renee M. Clary, Ph.D.
Co-Director, Teacher Academy in the Natural Sciences
A Mississippi Mathematics-Science Partnership
Mississippi State University


Dear NSTA:
The goal of the Teacher Academy in the Natural Sciences (TANS) project is to enrich the science content of Mississippi’s middle school science teachers. To accomplish this goal, the TANS leadership team at Mississippi State University (MSU) relies on the over 5,000 resources in the NSTA Learning Center throughout the academic year to extend and enhance our TANS summer institute content instruction.


SciPacks are in-depth online science modules that our participating teachers can access and complete at their convenience. With an assortment of SciPack topics available, the TANS leadership team was able to choose appropriate and relevant modules in chemistry, physics, and the geosciences: the three content areas targeted by our project.


Not only does the NSTA Learning Center provide a multitude of convenient online resources, but the support provided by the NSTA Learning Center team is superb. They were knowledgeable, patient, and helpful as we initially navigated the NSTA system and enrolled over 70 teachers in a short period of time. They accommodated our TANS special requests for customized data output and website appearance. The NSTA Learning Center staff also worked diligently to provide us with quick, initial feedback from our TANS teachers so that we could modify our face-to-face instruction and address problematic science content.


The NSTA Learning Center is an integral component of the Teacher Academy in the Natural Sciences (TANS) Mississippi Mathematics-Science Partnership at MSU. We look forward to working closely with the NSTA Learning Center over the next three years.

With best regards,

Renee Clary




Marguerite A. Sognier, Ph.D.
Director, Educational Outreach
Texas Regional Collaborative, Galveston


Dear NSTA:
The NSTA Learning Center is an outstanding resource that has proven to be invaluable to our teachers! We have utilized this resource for both beginning teachers as well as more experienced teachers. All of our teachers have found this to be a convenient way to enhance their science content knowledge, an invaluable resource to assist in explaining specific concepts in class, a useful tool for sharing resources with colleagues, and a central location for compiling their lesson plans, examples of student work, and annual progress.


In particular, the Learning Center proved to be extremely valuable during our recovery following hurricane Ike. During that time, teachers were unable to leave their classrooms to attend professional development workshops. The NSTA Learning Center came to the rescue and provided a means for teachers to gain essential knowledge, skills, and resources without losing classroom time.


The assistance provided in getting started and training teachers how to use the Learning Center is outstanding. Once established, the help and support for the Learning Center is also outstanding. All of the Help Desk staff has been extremely helpful, providing the highest level of service achievable!


Once teachers experience the online learning and utilize the extensive resources available, they never want to stop using the NSTA Learning Center! I highly recommend it!

Sincerely,
Marguerite A. Sognier, Ph.D.





Denise Pfeiffer
GEF Grant - Teacher Project Manager
Cincinnati Public Schools

Dear NSTA,

I want to thank you for developing the Learning Center as a place to obtain online professional development and resources that all teachers of science can use and explore easily. The SciPacks, SciGuides, and journal articles with lesson plans are fabulous.


In Cincinnati Public Schools, we use the SciPacks as a tool to deepen the science content knowledge of our teachers. This has helped make teachers feel more comfortable with science. We have teachers who have changed grade level and/or content area and have expressed a need to either learn their grade-level science topics or have a refresher course on the certain topics. The SciPacks help to meet that need. Also the SciPacks have helped our special education teachers learn the content needed to teach science to their students and to aid in classrooms that have inclusionary students.


The SciGuides have helped our teachers spruce up their lessons. Teachers have been able to discover new ways to help their students obtain that “AH HA” moment and to refresh their excitement about teaching science.


The articles from the NSTA journals and books online are a valuable asset that is easily accessed. When the journals are left at home and teachers are discussing a topic, they can search the site to find the research needed to help change instructional practice. Also many articles give great ideas about teaching lab safety, classroom management, and lesson plan ideas.


Once again I would like to say THANK YOU for all the work you have put into the Learning Center and the continued work to make it a place that science educators enjoy. I look forward in continuing our partnership with you.


Regards,
Denise Pfeiffer




Jim Woodland
Nebraska Science Director and Technical Advisor for KICKS

Sheree Person-Pandil
Project Director KICKS Science, and Nebraska State Coordinator for Building A Presence for Science (BaP)

Dear Mr. Byers:

As you know, our Nebraska "Keep Improving Content Knowledge and Skills" (KICKS) Institutes are designed to increase teachers’ mastery of science concepts and skills. We have found that Science Objects and SciPacks are the best-received on-line resource to accomplish that goal. Teachers like the accessibility, format, visuals, interactive simulations, and knowledge checks. We like the ability to provide a resource to our teachers to provide opportunities to increase their content knowledge throughout the school year.


Teachers are trained on the NSTA website Professional Learning Center during our summer KICKS Institutes. Each teacher builds his/her library of Science Objects/SciPacks based on the individual teachers’ content goals. Besides adding to their own content knowledge, teachers have found this resource especially helpful for giving them ideas on how to present the content to their students.


Melissa, one of our participants in the KICKS Project, had this to say about her experience with Science Objects.

"I have found the Science Objects to be really helpful in teaching about forces and motion because I have NEVER really learned about these concepts and had a few misconceptions of my own to work through. This is also my first time teaching about these concepts, so I found the Science Object on Force and Motion to be extremely helpful."

KICKS will continue to use Science Objects/SciPacks in our KICKS Institutes as well as feature this resource in professional development workshops conducted across our state.


Thanks so much for making this wonderful professional development resource available to our teachers.


Jim Woodland and Sheree Person-Pandil




Jan McLaughlin
Current President of the Council of State Science Supervisors
New Hampshire State Department of Education Science Supervisor


Dear Mr. Byers:
Research indicates that student achievement is directly tied to the content knowledge of the teacher in the classroom. The NSTA Learning Center provides solid science content for teachers of all levels and includes access to quality resources from professional articles from current and past NSTA journals to new and exciting computer simulations with rich feedback via SciPacks and SciGuides. This is not a one-size-fits-all solution but one that can deliver what the individual teacher needs directly. The NSTA Learning Center takes teacher professional development to a new level. Science content learning is delivered through a web-based solution which focuses on what teachers need and delivers it to them when they need it.


[The NSTA PD Plan and Professional Development tool] … provides our leadership teams and participating districts a source of qualitative information about the growth and reflections of teachers who participate in the various programs that focus on building content knowledge. Our partnership with NSTA has provided a NH Interface through which all our NH teachers travel to get to their personal E– Portfolio. What we have noticed is that each project uses the portfolio in different ways. Some projects have begun to venture into and incorporate all of the other features of the Learning Center (SciPacks, articles, e-chapters of books, web seminars, and more). This fall, we will launch a pilot with science teachers who have been hired under critical shortage conditions and are seeking certification in science. Often districts have difficulty in providing a plan and monitoring to help teacher grow to meet the state requirements. We think that this use of the e-Portfolio and the other NSTA learning Center resources, such as SciPacks will make this transition easier for both the teachers and the administrators.


Regards,
Jan McLaughlin





Robin Anglin, Science Coordinator
Office of Instruction
West Virginia Department of Education
Charleston, WV


A strong need exists for West Virginia middle school teachers, elementary school teachers, and special educators to acquire quality, interactive, professional development in specific content areas of science. In many cases, teachers are not certified in science and are teaching science with multi-subjects certifications which required few science specific courses. Special education certified teachers, who team collaboratively with the general science classroom teachers, also lack the necessary courses of study to provide strong support for students in those classes.


Teachers have the responsibility of addressing the rigor and relevance of the West Virginia Content Standards and Objectives. They are to include inquiry based instruction and hands on investigations where students draw conclusions from the data they have collected. It has been requested that teachers provide authentic learning opportunities with problem based scenarios. High-quality professional development with focused content and pedagogical training for science specific topics gives teachers the skills and confidence to step away from traditional text book driven classrooms and provide students with a 21st century education.


During the summers of 2006 thru 2009, elementary school teachers, middle school science teachers, and special education teachers had opportunities to increase their science content knowledge by attending regional SciPack trainings. The trainings focused upon utilizing the SciPack modules to learn content, engage in lab simulations, access pedagogical implications, and utilize formative and summative assessments. Technical support was available and provided as needed. Teachers who attend the sessions are eligible for stipends and college credit was available thru Marshall University.


After participating in the SciPack program, teacher feedback included-


“I wanted to let you know how valuable the SciPacks have been to me as I have prepared to take my National Board exam. You may want to consider that as you try to get people for this year. I can't think of a better way to cover Content Standards and Objectives than to work through those packs!!!!” 7th grade teacher

“The SciPacks are addictive. I've already completed 2 and I'm working on the third. Thanks for this great opportunity.” 3rd grade teacher


“Thank you for offering this program to West Virginia teachers. It truly helped my ability to teach the subjects.” Resource inclusion teacher


“SciPacks are wonderful, effective, online learning experiences for both teachers and students. I've used the SciPacks in my classroom via my computer, projector, and SmartBoard to teach some of my Content Standards and Objectives.” 7th grade teacher


“I learned a lot from the training and really enjoyed it. Could you let me know when the next SciPack training registration starts?” Middle school science teacher


Robin Anglin




John Putnam
Previous State Science Specialist
West Virginia Department of Education
Office of Curriculum and Instruction


Dear Mr. Byers:
While working at the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) as a state science coordinator, I was part of an effort by the department to increase teacher content knowledge in science for middle school teachers. WVDE had found few professional development options that provided affordable, high-quality professional development opportunities specific to the delivery of science content. It was through a presentation of NSTA’s Learning Center that we became acquainted with SciPacks.


There were many aspects of SciPacks that met West Virginia needs. For starters, SciPacks are similar to short mini-courses, tailored to specific pieces of science content. Teachers can acquire 10 hours of intensely focused science content based on their individual needs. The courses are online and provide embedded assessments and a final assessment that indicate to participants, and to WVDE, teacher competence and success in mastering the science content.


WVDE conducted a pilot study that informed WVDE’s decision to develop a state initiative based on NSTA’s SciPacks. WVDE collected data using a pre/post assessment created by NSTA, a survey of participants, and an open forum to collect verbal accounts. For those teachers who completed entire SciPacks, WVDE found that teacher mastery of rigorous science content increased with every participant according to pre and post tests given to teachers. Common testimonies from teachers successfully completing SciPacks indicated that they felt “empowered” and “confident” in the respective content they learned and for which they received a NSTA certificate of proficiency. As a state science coordinator, I was inspired by the testimonies of special educators who teach in co-teaching science classrooms, who reported that SciPacks increased their likelihood of leading rather than observing science lessons. Some teachers claimed the self-paced, learning-on-demand style of SciPacks to be the best professional opportunity yet afforded during their careers as teachers.


Throughout the pilot and initiative, NSTA offered support to WVDE through weekly updates of participating teachers’ progress; a content discussion forum; an "ask a mentor" content resource; and quick, responsive technical assistance. Compared to traditional face-to-face trainings, WVDE found NSTA’s SciPacks to be a cost-efficient and effective method for delivering high-quality science content to teachers.

Regards,
John Putnam





Bob Sotak, Ed.D.
K-12 Science Curriculum Specialist
Everett Public Schools


Mr. Byers,
In Everett, we are in the fourth year of a K-12 inquiry-based science implementation. Each year we rolled out new portions of the new curricular materials. Our primary professional development focus has been on initial use. It is a simple matter of time and treasure?only so many hours in the day, and only so many dollars to spend on professional development providers, teacher pay, and release time. The challenge for us has been getting a critical mass of teachers to attend content courses, let alone identifying courses that match our staff needs. Teachers want the help, but do not have time to take a general course in a content area. They want help with the specific content they have to teach.


Physical science was one of the areas we have had the most requests from our intermediate level teachers for content training. We decided to try SciPaks as an option and offered a course to staff teaching particular science modules in grades 5-9. In a sense, we were able to customize the training to what particular content a teacher would need for that unit.


Our experience with the force and motion module was valuable, and impact high. Comments from teachers indicated how much they enjoyed and learned. They wanted to know when they might be able to do the next one. I was very impressed because the content depth was more than I expected and in how it was presented, it was accessible to all the grade 5-9 teachers in the class. None felt overwhelmed.


We plan to include this type of training two ways: First, as a stand alone option on a menu of science professional development offerings. Second, as a component in a content professional development course that includes face to face sessions as well as on-line portions.


This is a powerful tool to help teachers grow in their understanding of the content and pedagogy we expect them to be teaching.


Regards,
Bob Sotak




Lee Ann Nickerson
K-12 Science Specialist
Jefferson County Public Schools
Louisville, Kentucky


Dear NSTA
“Thank you for this wonderful opportunity.” “I am so proud of myself for completing and passing this!” “Now that I understand more, I will be able to better help my students with their own learning.” These are representative teacher comments I have received about their NSTA SciPack professional development experience. Just the kind of feedback I want to hear!


Jefferson County Public Schools has partnered with NSTA this year to offer on-line SciPack content professional development for elementary and middle school teachers. This opportunity was made available to JCPS as a component of our GE Foundation Developing Futures in Education grant. Our teachers are appreciating and enjoying the ability to have flexible access to these engaging and challenging learning tools.


As our district has moved to a rigorous inquiry-centered K-8 curriculum, our teachers have expressed the need for deepening their own content knowledge. NSTA SciPacks have given them a timely, targeted and convenient solution to this problem. The enthusiastic and positive feedback we are receiving is indicative of the high-quality and efficacy of these professional development products. The embedded and pre /post assessments allow our teachers to monitor their own learning.


As our district’s Science Specialist, I appreciate the support that NSTA staff has offered to develop our plan, provide teacher face-to-face training, and offer prompt technical assistance. Teacher log-in, completion and success data is readily available and easy to use. Access to this data makes our district record keeping for professional development so easy.


We look forward to continued partnership with NSTA to expand the SciPack opportunity to more of our teachers.


Regards,
Lee Ann Nickerson




Dr. Michael Odell
Roosth Endowed Chair in Education
Professor, STEM Education
University of Texas at Tyler


East Texas STEM Center: “The East Texas STEM Center (ETXSC) housed at the University of Texas at Tyler will be using the NSTA Learning Center to support science teacher professional development in rural schools throughout the state of Texas. Teachers in rural schools typically teach multiple preparations of science and in some cases may be the only science teacher in the school. Science teachers in these isolated settings need timely access to professional development and the NSTA Learning Center provides access to high quality professional development. Rural science teachers often have minimal preparation in some science disciplines and SciPacks allow these teachers to self-assess their professional development needs and select the content that will be most useful. The accountability tools allow ETXSC staff the ability to monitor teacher progress and provide targeted assistance to teachers. The ETXSC will also be utilizing the NSTA LC as the centerpiece to support professional learning communities in rural schools. The online webinars, SciPacks, and access to NSTA Journals provides quality materials and programming for teachers to participate in online professional learning communities.”

Dr. Michael Odell




What College Faculty Say:

Wayne State College

Sally Harms, Ed.D.
Professor
Natural Sciences/ Science Education
Wayne State College

Dear Dr. Byers and Mr. Mendez,

I have been using the NSTA Learning Center in the physical science content course (for elementary education majors) as well as the Science Methods course for middle and secondary science education majors since the fall of 2012. The variety of resources that are available to these students via the NSTA Learning Center is wonderful! It is also important (to me) that all of the resources have been vetted to assure the information is scientifically correct. Many of my students are beginning to realize that the Learning Center is a “gold mine” that costs them less than the standard textbook(s) they might otherwise be required to purchase for a either the methods or science content course . This membership not only provides Wayne State College’s students valuable resources and a place to store them (My Library), but also many other opportunities for professional development.

As I become familiar with the NSTA resources related to the content I present, I assign specific science objects, book chapters, and journal articles to be completed prior to the class discussions. This semester, rather than giving students the option of completing the pre-assessments, I am requiring them to take the assessment and complete a review of what they thought they knew as well as where they struggled. I’ve recommended that they utilize the suggested resources and then take the assessment again. Several students commented that they appreciated that suggested resources were provided following the assessments so that they were easy to obtain. A few reported that they repeated the assessment following the use of a resource and saw improvement in their scores.

The pre-assessments are a tremendous asset to me because I can easily access the scores for each specific area and see the average knowledge that the students have prior to the onset of the new topic. It is also helpful in selecting the resources that are appropriate to assign for students to read, and/or science objects to complete during the course of study.

NSTA not only provides the students with resources via book chapters, science objects, and journals, it allows the students to experience quality professional development through web seminars, forums, and conferences. I hope that once the students leave my classroom they will continue to build their libraries as well as maintain their membership with NSTA. The opportunities you offer my students through this special membership/subscription opportunity are greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,
Sally Harms


University of Hawaii West Oahu

Richard Jones, Ed.D.
Assistant Professor Science Education
Division of Education
University of Hawaii West Oahu

Aloha Mr. Mendez,

I wanted to share with you some of my experiences using the NSTA Learning Center as my e-Text and eLearning portal for my Elementary Science Students here at UH West Oahu. This fall is the sixth time that I have used the NSTA Leaning Center with my students and each semester we find more resources and ways to enhance our learning together.

Each week I have my students use the Learning Center to find articles to summarize and provide one “Ah-Ha” and one “Take-Away” that relates to the concepts and content that we are covering in class. I also have them listen to podcasts, view web-archives and probably most importantly, complete Science Objects and in several cases complete SciPacks to help them build content knowledge.

For my students, becoming familiar with the NSTA Learning Center while as a student gives them a “leg up” on understanding an accessing one of the recommended Professional Development tools for Hawaii Teachers. This experience allows them to begin to build their Professional Development portfolio even before they become licensed.

I have been very happy with the NSTA Learning Center and will continue to use this valuable tool in my methods classes.

Mahalo,
Rick Jones


University of South Carolina

Nate Carnes, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Middle Level Program Coordinator
Department of Instruction and Teacher Education
University of South Carolina

Dear Mr. Mendez,

I have used the NSTA Learning Center for at least a few years in my Middle Level Science Methods course to assist in preparing my teacher candidates to pass the Middle Level Praxis II Science content examination and to prepare them to teach effectively in grades 6- 8. At your suggestion and with your support, I jumped in with both feet in using the NSTA Learning Center bundle. As you know, I was apprehensive about the cost my teacher candidates would be required to pay. However, the decision has been a very cost effective one in that my candidates have had access to so many resources to enhance their content and pedagogical knowledge throughout the semester. In particular, the SciPaks and Science Objects have addressed the anxieties that my preservice teachers have about increasing their content knowledge. This has been a great relief to them and me, as I cannot teach requisite content knowledge and pedagogical skills to my students in 16 short weeks. So, the Learning Center helped them explore and use great resource during their first semester of their yearlong internship. It turns out that the benefits have far outweighed the cost of the class bundle (membership and subscription).

My teacher candidates are beginning to create quality lesson plans, activities, and assessments through increased content knowledge and the use of collections of articles and book chapters about the 5E Learning Cycle, middle level students’ misconceptions, nature of science, and other aspects of science teaching and learning. They have access to the various community forums to collaborate with real classroom teachers and reflect on their learning (and future goals) using the PD Indexer. Although the SciPacks assessments have humbled them, these assessments have prepared them well for the Praxis II content exam. Use of the NSTA Learning as an e-textbook has been one of the reasons why my teacher candidates have touted the middle level science methods course to be more valuable than the other courses that they re required to complete. Furthermore, this multifaceted resource has helped me customize the support that I can give to them throughout the semester and beyond. Thank you so much for providing such a valuable resource for our future middle school teachers and encouraging me to make the jump!

Sincerely,
Nate Carnes.


Kathleen Sparrow, Ph.D.
Adjunct Professor
Department of Teaching and Learning, College of Education
Florida International University


Dear Dr. Byers,
I teach pre-service elementary teachers science methods at a Florida International University. I have been using the NSTA Learning Center as an e-text for seven semesters. My students purchase a subscription to the NSTA Learning Center. Their subscription for a year includes a student membership to NSTA and free access to all the resources (with a couple exceptions).


I've provided my students with 17 collections (e.g., 5E Learning Cycle, Accommodating All Science Learners, Safety Is Elementary, Sustainability) which are automatically put into each student's Learning Center library. The collections contain relevant journal articles, book chapters and other resources that I use in class and for assignments during the semester. I find that these articles are more relevant and readable than many science methods textbooks, since many articles are written by actual classroom teachers--many in tandem with university professors.


There are also multiple forums where pre-service students can interact with teachers-in-the-field. Students can ask questions, enter into discussions, receive and/or share information with experienced teachers. My students have certain assignments specifically using the Learning Center so they become familiar with the different resources.


I see one of the main advantages of using the Learning Center as an e-text for my pre-service teachers is that they become familiar with this resource and they can subsequently return to and use once they are in their own classrooms during their professional careers.


My students also complete at least one of the SciPacks to help their lesson planning and aid in their content learning. At the end of the semester my students develop an online portfolio in lieu of an exam, using the Learning Center's PD Plan and Portfolio tool. I believe at last count, there are over 11,000 resources in the Learning Center, most of which my students can access free with their subscription.

Sincerely,
Kathleen Sparrow, Ph.D.




Kathleen Baka M.Ed.
Science Methods Instructor
Kent State University, Geauga Campus
Middle Childhood Education Program


Dear Mr. Mendez:
I began using the NSTA e-textbook program in my science methods class last spring, and continued to use it this fall in my course titled Integrating Science and Social Studies in the Middle Grades. We worked in conjunction with our local Metroparks to create a new program incorporating history and science in learning about a place called Chair Factory Falls, a one-time manufacturing area that has returned to nature.


The SciPack, Resources and Human Impact was very valuable in giving the social studies people some insight into the human side of science and the science people an understanding that science must include the human element. My students frequently brought up things they had learned in the SciPack as they related to our task, so I know they found it valuable.


I also like that I can give them choices of materials to select for other readings. The Metroparks staff asked that they read about informal education and nature deficit disorder, and they were able to select readings that appealed to them I also required that they find articles about integrating science with the other subjects they are preparing for licensure and they enjoyed doing this very much. Our department emphasizes constructivism and giving students choices in what and how to study, and the e-textbook program models that kind of learning beautifully.


For the science methods course, I particularly like that I can require them to do a SciPack in each of the three areas of science, because they function as both a refresher course for the Praxis exams, and they include pedagogical ideas to make teaching more meaningful and fun. I also like that I can use these materials to model blended learning.


I am very glad that I was sent information from NSTA about this program. It is a terrific resource for future science teachers and a good resource for any teacher.

Sincerely,
Kathleen Baka




Meredith Houle Vaughn, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Science Education
School of Teacher Education
San Diego State University


Dear Mr. Mendez,
I have been using the NSTA Learning Center as an e-textbook with both my pre-service elementary teachers and teachers enrolled in our Masters of Arts in science education. Both sets of teachers have found the Learning Center to be an invaluable resource in supporting content knowledge, developing pedagogical strategies, and as a source of lesson ideas.


I also appreciate the opportunities the Learning Center provides for my students and beginning teachers to connect to a larger community of teachers and as a model of continuous learning opportunities available to teachers beyond the credential and masters degree programs.

Best,
Meredith Houle Vaughn, Ph.D.




Jane Metty, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Education
Tift College of Education
Mercer University


Dear Mr. Mendez,
Please allow me to take a moment to convey what a wonderful resource the NSTA Learning Center has been for my pre-service science methods courses, in-service teacher professional development, and most recently with our Woodrow Wilson Fellows.


I have been using this portal for a number of years and believe it is an exceptional value and unparalleled in quality. The NSTA Learning Center makes individualizing instruction effortless because of the sheer number of learning opportunities that are available within the site. Because the Learning Center subscription extends beyond the semester, I have found it to be an effective induction tool as well as an effective way to get and keep teachers connected in the profession and growing. I would encourage any science educator or professional development provider to consider the NSTA Learning Center. You won't be disappointed.

Sincerely,
Jane Metty, Ph.D.




Wendy Ruchti, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Science Education
Department of Teaching and Educational Studies
College of Education
Idaho State University


Dear Dr. Byers and Mr. Mendez,
I have been using the NSTA Learning Center for the last several years in my Elementary Science Methods course, and want to tell you how great it has been to give this gift to my students. I believe that learning to teach is a lifelong process, and as such, I cannot teach everything to my students in 16 short weeks. Therefore, it is through the Learning Center, I can help them utilize a great resource they will use in multiple ways throughout the rest of their time in the College of Education, and well into teaching as they continue to grow and learn.


My students create quality unit plans and assessments through first, understanding the content better by completing SciPacks and Science Objects and second, studying pedagogy though use of collections of articles and book chapters about the 5E model, misconceptions, asking questions, and more. They use the community forums to collaborate with real classroom teachers and reflect on their learning (and future goals) using the PD plan and portfolio. In short, they utilize the skills and understandings they will use as a classroom teacher and are supported fully through the Learning Center. Most of my students report that they continue to use the Learning Center well after my class and into their first years of teaching! Thank you for providing such a valuable resource for our future teachers!

Sincerely,
Wendy Ruchti, Ph.D.




Vicki Massey
Faculty, Northern Arizona University


Dear Mr. Mendez,
I have been an adjunct instructor at the Northern Arizona University for almost eight years teaching Science Methods courses to pre-service education students. I recently retired from the Mesa Public Schools in Arizona where I was a science and social studies specialist.


I wanted to share with you that using the NSTA Learning Center as my e-textbook for my science methods courses was the best thing I ever did. Instead of an expensive and outdated science methods books, my students now have the latest and greatest information and resources to use. I assign topics for students to read and have them search the NSTA portal to find journal articles. Generally there is a variety of reading they do and prepare reports. Their 5E lesson plans are found and/or inspired on the Learning Center. All of the Science and Children journal articles/lessons use the 5E model. The students enjoy using the Learning Center's PD Indexer as an assignment to find out what they don't know about topics and adding resources to their digital library to enhance their content knowledge. Additionally, this experience gets them used to accessing resources online and being part of a network of science-minded individuals.



Sincerely,
Vicki Massey




Ruth S. Burkett, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Science Education
Elementary & Early Childhood Education
University of Central Missouri


Dear Dr. Byers and Mr. Mendez:
I use the NSTA Learning Center (NLC) with my science pre-service teachers in several ways. First of all I have the students take a number of the pre-tests as diagnostics for science content knowledge. With their results in hand, the students choose NSTA SciPaks to enhance their content knowledge and improve their post-test scores.


Beginning the third week of the semester, students are spending half their class time in the field-based practicum teaching science to students in grades 2, 3, and 4, so I only have them in class once a week. They are using the NLC as a resource for content knowledge and for lesson plans. I found they were going online and borrowing lesson plans that were not of the best quality. I now remind them each week that there are plans in the NLC that they should be using, thus saving me from having to review and correct those alternative conceptions they all seem to have.


Additionally I have been using resources from the NLC to build Learning Modules in BlackBoard. These modules must be completed before class so we can discuss and enhance their learning. Learning Modules include Inquiry Learning, Lesson Planning, Uncovering Student Ideas, Using Trade Books in Science, etc. For the Learning Module Uncovering Student Ideas, I shared a Learning Center collection of resources to be studied including a collection of chapters from Page Keeley's books. Each student must choose one student idea (maybe even their own misconception) and present a plan for modifying the child's thinking to become more in line with today's scientific theories. I can't wait to hear these as I have heard some humdingers in class so far this semester. Second semester seniors should know better!


I have found so many great resources that next semester I will be using the resources of the NLC for my freshman level Biology for Teachers' and Physics for Teachers' courses. These are both online classes and I think this will be an exciting enhancement of the course content.

Cheers,
Ruth Burkett, Ph.D.




Kenneth Miller, Ph.D.
Chair, Educational Theory and Practice
College of Education
Montana State University Billings


Dear Mr. Mendez,
We are now using the NSTA Learning Center (NLC) for content coursework in the General Education category for pre-service elementary teachers. Jeanie Kalotay and I (Ken Miller, both College of Education) have been working with the STEM faculty in the Biological and Physical Science department. We have taught them how to flip a classroom and how to blend online with on-campus. We have two basic courses to provide the content required for licensure in Montana. We have carefully chosen NSTA SciPacks specific to the content needed for an elementary teacher, built the courses around the SciPacks, and provide experiences that enable pre-service teachers the skills and content to teach science well.


While there are pedagogical implications in every SciPack, we are not quite there yet. We have a separate methods course that ties in the content with appropriate NGSS practices and methods. My goal is to begin to work on the methods at the same time as we work with the content. Higher Ed moves at a slow dance, not a Tango.


Here is the structure of the course: Each semester we structure a 3 credit course with the Science department. Approximately 60 students enter into a specific section that interfaces with the NLC. Students purchase the subscription to the NSTA Learning Center to use as their e-Textbook and NSTA student membership for 1-year bundle, which can be used the next semester as well. Each semester, we have 5 SciPacks required to be completed. We meet on Thursday nights each week. The first Thursday is a lecture/review/interaction/activities all relating to the SciPack that the students are just finishing. The second Thursday is a written test that is proctored over that SciPack. Then the cycle begins again on a new SciPack.


We are excited about this procedure. The courses prior to this were considered courses from "Hell" by our students. The students were beat up as well as the faculty. Now the science faculty are having fun teaching the elementary teachers. The department chair told me that the NSTA SciPacks offer more in-depth content than what they had before and the students in this course are scoring about a mean of 18% above his other more traditional course. He is sold. So am I.

Sincerely,
Kenneth Miller, Ph.D.




Michael Odell, Ph.D.
Roosth Chair in Education
Executive Director, The Ingenuity Center
University of Texas at Tyler


I utilize the NSTA Learning Center for my Pre-service Teachers enrolled in my science methods courses at The University of Texas-Tyler. I utilize the Learning Center because it is much more comprehensive than a methods text. The NSTA Learning Center allows me to develop (preload) a library of materials I can share with my students to serve as their text. It allows the students to build upon the library by adding their own resources as they learn about science teaching and learning. The access to the journals provides a great resource for supporting lesson study. The fact that the system is online allows my students to utilize the Learning Center in their field placements as well.


In the EC-6 and 4-8 grade level certification programs too many students do not have the content backgrounds they need in science. The Learning Center allows me to evaluate my students’ science content knowledge using the free PD Indexer tool and develop a remediation plan using SciPacks to address their gaps in knowledge. The best part is that students complete the modules outside of class rather than taking limited class time. Students also seem to like the SciGuides that are coupled with the SciPacks and Science Objects, as they provide vetted web-based resources, lesson plans, and access to the simulations found in the SciPacks for use in the classroom. I also utilize the Science Objects with their embedded simulations and formative assessment questions in my class for demonstration purposes.


The fact that students can develop a professional development portfolio is very attractive. This is an area I will be working to utilize the Learning Center so that students can upload student products, reflections, and their analyses. I find the Learning Center to be very dynamic and useful for pre-service education.

Regards,
Michael Odell, Ph.D.




Christine Anne Royce, Ed.D
Department Chairperson and Associate Professor
Shippensburg University


NSTA Resources – A Winning Combination for Elementary Science Methods at Shippensburg University


Throughout the past two years, NSTA resources have become the major avenue for preparing future elementary teachers in the area of science education at Shippensburg University. As a faculty member who teaches elementary science methods, I have become a believer that NSTA wins the trifecta of providing current resources for pre-service (and in-service) teachers that will follow them well into their teaching career and provide countless opportunities for individual professional development. This winning combination incorporates NSTA membership, the NSTA Learning Center, and NSTA Press books.


Students enrolled in my TCH 346 – Teaching Science in the Elementary School are required to join NSTA as a student member. Student dues are fairly low, and in conjunction with the other required NSTA resources, my students will spend much less than traditional course materials, and although much of what is utilized in class can be done electronically and through online resources, I feel there is a high value for my students to be part of a large global network of members who view science teaching as a true profession. Students are first introduced to resources through the member benefits including journals and the NSTA Reports. When they realize the wealth of information and ideas available, it then allows me as the instructor to show them how to become even richer in resources through the archives available on the website and the ability to create a personalized library within their NSTA Learning Center.


I am a strong proponent of customizing professional development for the needs of each teacher. Components in the NSTA Learning Center allow me to provide consistent and accurate content for my students while at the same time allowing them to tailor aspects to their individual needs and meet the need for differentiated instruction. This is accomplished with my students through the Professional Development Indexer tool which allows them to ascertain their content areas that are sufficient and those that may need a little bit of a boost. Students can then become the director’s (along with a little gentle guidance) to their own professional development by selecting areas of need around which to complete several of their assignments – including the development of a personal library in the “My Library” area of the Learning Center, selection of a SciPack in a need area to purchase and complete to increase their learning. Students were then able to reassess their knowledge at the end of that SciPack by retaking the individual component of the PD Indexer to bring the PD experience full circle.


In surveying my students, one question that was asked was “Describe a single resource that you used during science methods that you really "liked".” It was clear from the responses that students found the assignments that utilized the NSTA Learning Center as valuable as well as likeable. Student responses included: “[the] SciPaks were really detailed and interesting to go through,” and “I liked the Learning Center. The articles were very interesting and are a good resource. I really found my SciPack interesting. I relearned a lot of information that I had forgotten and some that I was unfamiliar with. I think that the SciPack really helped to expand my science knowledge.”


The final component of my class focuses on the use of NSTA Press books to provide additional content knowledge and support for pre-service teachers. Whether through the purchase of an actual book (my students do purchase Lingo of Learning) or the purchase of individual e-Chapters of books that could be added to their “My Library,” students can delve deeper into pedagogical and/or content areas in which they are interested.


Overall, my college students and the future students they teach are the winners in that they reap the benefits of the NSTA’s trifecta.

  • Membership introduces them to the larger world of science education as a profession;
  • The NSTA Learning Center has allowed me to make the content in my elementary science methods class dynamic and interactive for individual students while still meeting the overall goals and objectives of my course; and
  • NSTA Press books provide a greater in-depth and focused look at topics students wish to pursue.

Respectfully,
Christine Anne Royce, Ed.D





Susan M. Blunck, Ph.D.
Associate Clinical Professor Science Education
Director UMBC Center for Excellence in STEM Education

Dear Mr. Byers and Mr. Mendez,

I am writing to praise all of you at NSTA for your creative efforts in providing online professional development resources for teachers and to let you know that at The University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) we are using the resources with our pre-service elementary science teachers to boost their content understandings and help them gain insights into high quality professional development. As the professor of the UMBC elementary science methods course and as a professional development researcher, my belief is that the day you decide to become a science teacher you start on your professional development journey. So, one of the main goals in my course is to help my pre-service teachers become aware of the resources that will serve them across their careers as life-long learners. The online professional development resources on the NSTA website are a perfect fit for helping us reach this goal.


The vision for electronic professional development communities is vividly appearing on the horizon thanks to NSTA and the creation of the NSTA Learning Center. The Learning Center provides developmentally appropriate, web-based, instantly accessible, do it yourself (DIY) experiences that are helping our UMBC students become more knowledgeable, confident, and caring elementary science teachers.


Across the past three years, UMBC elementary science pre-service teachers, in my graduate and undergraduate elementary science methods courses, have been taking advantage of the learning opportunities provided in the Learning Center. Research shows us that elementary pre-service teachers are often weak in terms of their science content background so providing quality information on key science concepts is a key goal of this course. For many years, the students in my class have had assignments that required them to visit the NSTA website but now that the Learning Center has become more fully developed the students are focused on the use of content-rich tools and resources in the Center.


Once students register for a free Learning Center account, they are able to have experiences with Science Objects, SciPacks, web seminars, books and journal articles, as well as, the professional development tools, such as the PD Indexer and PD Plan and Portfolio, all designed to help them develop the habits of a true professional. To this point in time, the pre-service teachers in my course are required to visit the Learning Center where they work primarily with the Science Objects in order to gain stronger content understandings to effectively design a two-week, inquiry-based, teaching module required for my course. The Science Objects serve as the main tool students use to gain deeper understanding of essential science concepts. The knowledge gained by the students is substantial. As a science teacher educator, I have benefited greatly from using the Learning Center in my classes and look forward to extending the experiences this year by having my students set professional development learning goals and provide evidences and reflections to include in their PD Plan and Portfolio. I encourage other university science educators to get their students involved in Learning Center activities. Our pre-service teachers deserve the opportunity to experience NSTA’s innovative, high quality, online professional development learning experiences as these are the types of activities they will be doing as practicing science teachers.


Sincerely,
Susan M. Blunck, Ph.D.




Bambi L. Bailey, Ph.D.
Associate Professor Science Education
The University of Texas at Tyler
Tyler, TX


Dear Mr. Mendez,

I have to admit that I was skeptical about the points/badges system working with my [preservice science methods] students, but I was SO-O-O-O wrong! I simply put an announcement on Blackboard praising the top folks to date over the weekend. I didn't even think about the fact that the only man in one class had the overall top points. Several young women announced, "We can let Terry get away with that!" And so it began....


Terry mocked them for not checking their profile page for updates on their points. They asked me how he got so many so quickly. I said different activities receive different points. By this time Terry had left. One student said, " So if no one has used the Community Forums yet, I could be the leader for that pretty easily - huh?" The conversation went on for a while


I haven't met with my other class yet, but they too have upped the ante. I don't know what their reason is.


I just know that a small group has infected the larger group. They know about their profile page, the leader boards, and the different types of Learning Center Activities in a way that will stick with them much better than my overview did.


FYI - They are also excited about the idea of the donations (good idea putting that tab with the activity/point tab it made a perfect segue to an argument for my non-competitive people to participate more as well).

Sincerely,
Bambi Bailey, Ph.D.




James A. Rye, Professor
West Virginia University
Department of Curriculum & Instruction/Literacy Studies


I have used the NSTA Learning Center resources with undergraduate and graduate students pursuing initial elementary-level teacher certification. As we know, science presence is insufficient in today's elementary school classroom. The NSTA Learning Center is one powerful tool that science educators can utilize in their methods courses to help equip and motivate future teachers to change this scenario. I have required pre-service teachers to build and showcase a "My Library" of the free resources, and I have encouraged them to utilize these resources for other course assignments, such as the Learning Cycle Unit that they teach and assess in practica and their Micro-professional Development Session that they provide to their classmates. It is so rewarding to listen to the pre-service students speak enthusiastically about the Learning Center resources, e.g., they are amazed that such a valuable resource exists!


Recently, I also have taken advantage of the free web seminars for my pre-service teachers. We participated in a seminar on garden-based learning, which was so timely given that we have a small grant to build a program at one of the professional development schools that provide experiences for our pre-service teachers. Based on the positive feedback I have received from pre-service teachers, I plan to enhance the utilization of this tool in future offerings of methods courses and build it into another course on integrating science-mathematics instruction. Thank you, NSTA, for providing such a wonderful resource to empower elementary teachers to enhance science learning for children.

Sincerely,
James A. Rye, Ph.D.




What Teachers Say:

What Teachers Say about Learning Center e-PD resources and opportunities

SciPacks and Science Objects

"I'm so grateful that I had the opportunity to become acquainted with the SciPacks and the Learning Center. I've been working on one SciPack after another in the fields of Earth Science and biology. They are marvelous learning tools. I was asked to teach Earth Science last year and I had a steep learning curve using whatever material I could find. After completing a trio of SciPacks I feel totally ready to design some great units (I do have the NSTA Project Earth Science manuals). I also did the Nutrition and Cell SciPacks. All of them are excellent resources as models for sequencing and formative assessment. Thank you for vastly improving what I will bring to the classroom."


"This was a great use of my time. I would recommend SciPacks for use durning district training days."


"I had taught the unit before, but now I have ideas I never thought of before, and have additional demonstrations ideas on how to present the topic to facilitate learning."


"It is now starting "to click" and I finally understand it; There were many "aha" moments"


"Going through this experience helped me to emphasize these concepts with my students."


"As I personally experienced the simulations [in the SciPacks], I was then able to develop better classroom activities. I feel this was directly responsible for my students improved test scores. As a teacher that does not have a specialization in science, I found the Force and Motion SciPack very helpful in developing more effective classroom experiences for my students."


"I found the SciPack Module, Gravity and Orbits, to be helpful in filling in the gaps of my education. After completing the SciPack, I felt more confident in presenting the material to my students as well as better informed in trying to address their questions. The gravity and orbits SciPack was a good review of content for me. I found myself using a lot of the examples represented in the tutorial with my students."


"I have completed the SciPack on plate tectonics and found it extremely helpful to me in my teaching. The students seemed to understand the concepts much better than last year's class. I believe this SciPack helped me to develop a deeper understanding of this topic and in turn I prepared better lessons for my classes. I feel that my students really understood plate tectonics because finally their teacher understood plate tectonics. Each class showed a significant increase in the class average after the lessons were taught."


The SciPack was really perfect for me. The reading was interspersed with questions and checking for understanding which really helped me to pace myself and see if I got the concept. The animations and diagrams were also very specific to the subject matter which was very helpful. – Shelly Hawksford, middle school teacher, Maryland.




Online Short Course


"I found the course very beneficial and I have come away with several ideas that I will be able to use in my classroom. To me that is the sign of an excellent course!" – Alane Peragallo, middle school teacher, Virginia.


"I liked the ability to speak directly to the instructor and moderator. I liked the ability to respond in different formats and I was overjoyed to use technology efficiently and to feel more comfortable with the resources." – Alice Mayoral, middle school teacher, Virginia.


"I liked the convenience of attending class from my living room and interacting as I needed. Most of the information helped me personally, and the last session was directly pertinent to my students’ curriculum." – Janet Reichmuth, high school teacher, Kentucky.


"The platform and online forum is a great way to engage individuals and increase learning." – Jim Carr, middle school teacher, Illinois


“Although I have taken several physics courses, I find physics a very difficult area of science. The [NSTA Short Course in Force and Motion] was very beneficial in reviewing key concepts and forcing me to examine my own understanding. I was so impressed with the software used I'm still talking about it with my colleagues.”


“I have already visited some of the links provided in the SciGuides to use in my classroom next year. I think the simulations are invaluable and I definitely plan to incorporate them in my lessons next year.”


“The technology was a definite plus. I have taken several on-line courses and even with my dial up connection, this [NSTA Online Short Course] was by far the best I have ever participated in! The interactive nature of the Elluminate software was incredible! I love the voting/polling and instant feedback was great! The program was designed to target all different learning styles.”


It gave me further resources and connections to broaden my own and my students understanding of the seasons. – Stephanie Ott-Zurcher, middle school teacher, Pennsylvania


I learned a lot in this class – tonight for instance, I learned about precession, about how the forces of inertia/momentum and gravity interact, and I better understand Kepler’s laws. This helps my understanding of gravity and orbits and should make it more effective when responding to student questions. Also, I’ve gotten a better idea about what sources to use in an inquiry setting. - Mark Goldsmith, middle school teacher, Connecticut




Web Seminars


“[The Web Seminar is] really thought-provoking and cutting edge--lots of ideas for further learning or discussion.”


"I was super-impressed with the software. I enjoyed the seminar it was interesting and being able to interact was fun. Very cool!"


“This was an incredible team of experts who talked to all levels of educators- from preschool to high school. Excellent topic, presentation and resources.”


"This was my first web seminar, and I loved the experience. The live interaction was wonderful, and the presenters, were so much fun. It is so nice to be able to participate from the comfort of my own home!"




Symposia


"I enjoyed having different lecturers and the hands-on activities/lab."


"This is one of the very best professional development institutes I've attended. Wow!"


"Fantastic experience. Great activities. Can not wait to use the lessons in my class and share them with other teachers in my school."


"Wow! As a former reading teacher who just switched over to K-5 science, you have just made me a better science teacher. Thanks!


Other Points of Interest