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NSTA's Virtual Conference - Teaching Controversial Topics | Posted in Professional Learning

Hi Mary, I have had the opportunity to participate in several virtual conferences. The most amazing part of it is getting to hear firsthand from the experts on a topic. When I attended the solar eclipse one, I was blown away by all the great information that was shared. I was so well prepared to participate in the total eclipse in Carbondale this past August because of what I learned at the virtual conference. I also attended the Climate Virtual Conference where they had atmospheric scientists and meteorologists from NOAA (who actually study climate change) share their expertise. Then we had experienced educators share how to present engaging lessons to our students. Your brain leaves the day's conference filled to the brim with fresh new ideas. I love going to NSTA conferences like the one coming up in Atlanta, but it is a totally different experience. The virtual conferences are such a great value for the money. All those experts on one specific topic are gathered together for the day just for us! I am especially interested in the March 3rd virtual conference because I am looking forward to learning some new strategies for teaching controversial topics in science, AND the other emphasis, according to the overview, is about having a better understanding of the nature of science. Hope to see you there! Carolyn


Carolyn Mohr

First Day of School Science Activities | Posted in Life Science

I teach only science, so for me, I get the kids for a short time and I am looking to make it pop. In elementary classes, I start with procedures or expectations but I weave that into an inquiry/discovery lesson. Mostly I use units from the Picture Perfect Science books by Karen Ansberry & Emily Morgan. They include lessons on discrepant events like the jumping beans for 4-5th biology (where students learn that not everything is as it seems at a glance) or "Earthlets" where students learn the value of piecing together all the information that they discover. I've used their lesson on the learn'd astronomer or Rachel Carson, "a sense of wonder" in both cases to introduce in a soft-start way that science is more than "doing". It includes pondering, wondering, ruminating over how amazing creation is...and helping students to place themselves inside that story as active participants in the science journey.


Annamarie Door

Animals in the classroom? | Posted in Life Science

In preparation to have my own classroom, considering the pros and cons of having a class pet is important. While I agree with past posts that having a pet is a great way to help students take ownership of their classroom, practice responsibility by caring for the animal, and inspire curiosity and research, I also appreciate everyone's advice on precautions and even possible downfalls of taking animals out of their natural environment. Ideally, it would be fantastic for kids to take lots of field trips to partake in learning experiences in the 'real world'. Logistically and financially this is not an efficient option most of the time. So its important to bring a variety of real artifacts and specimen into the classroom to enrich learning experiences. The ethics concern in respect to having animals caged in your class is something important to consider. I think should be a topic of discussion among students before getting a class pet. If students decide having a pet is unethical, I really like the bird feeder option. Bird watching can be done almost anywhere. Catching bugs and then returning them to their natural habitat may also be a good compromise to having a pet. I think its important to demonstrate critical thinking for students and will continue weighing the pros and cons of having animals in the classroom.


Jordan Hammerand

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