Posts Tagged ‘Professional Development’

NSTA 2011 Here and Gone Again

As promised, I will be writing up some of the sessions I attended this past weekend…since this was my first conference as a presenter, I spent less time in sessions as usual, but I did learn quite a few new tricks!

This weekend was also exciting since the conference was held in San Francisco – thousands of science teachers in a city with a tsunami warning; I can bet lots of lesson plans were changed (including my own) to focus on the current events in Japan.

So be on the lookout for:

  • Parent-teacher communication and involvement ideas
  • How to host a physics-themed haunted house
  • Ways to make the most of the Holt Introductory Physics textbook
  • Accessing understanding of ELL students
  • Skills to help ELL students understand science
  • Exhibit hall highlights

NSTA 2011 – See you there!

So I finally booked my flight and hotel for the NSTA National Conference in San Francisco. I’ll be there Friday and Saturday and present Saturday morning (March 12). More details to come…

See you there!

Will you be at NSTA 2011??

I sure will!!

Last year, several grad school colleagues and I presented research on parent-teacher-student communication via this blog and we were selected to present our findings at the National Conference in San Francisco.

Please feel free to come to our session on Saturday, March 13. More details to come and we will be collecting more data from our new schools…until then, feel free to read our data and conclusions from last year.

See you in March!


Wiki-Teacher is a fabulous resource for all teachers, regardless of content area. It was actually started by my district, but has more users from outside of Nevada than not!

One of the great things about Wiki-Teacher is that it has lesson plans and ideas as well as videos to give you some ideas of how to implement certain strategies.

There’s not much else I can say since even just a little time exploring will get you hooked!


Last weekend I went to the annual SCONYC conference for New York City Science Teachers. Here’s a summary of the day:

Forensic Microscopy Workshop – My fellow TC-ers and I headed up a a workshop on forensic microscopy. It was a bit disappointing because it didn’t end up being as hands on as we had hoped, but I got a few good pictures out of it:

playing with a lens and camera

a classmate’s split ends – it was amazing that we could use the digital camera to capture what we saw in the microscope!

Operation Shellshock – Key Address by Lt. Richard Thomas of the New York State Police

There were a myriad technical difficulties, so we couldn’t hear most of his talk, but Lt. Thomas handled them well! He spoke about his experience working under cover to help stop the black market trade of indigenous New York amphibian and reptiles.

Active Physics – This was a fantastic workshop given by John Roeder of The Calhoun School in Manhattan. In my methods classes, we have worked a lot with different Active Physics activities, but I had never grasped how the curriculum as a whole worked. As John walked us through the curriculum, I was quickly convinced that I would definitely use this curriculum if given the opportunity! I’m heading over to his school in two weeks to observe him in action.

The conference was held at the incredible Stuyvesant High School in Battery Park City.

The school has escalators that travel two floors at a time. It also has these fantastic tiles I forgot to take a picture of: they are glass boxes with some sort of memorabilia from each year since the school was started. So cool! We even got to eat in a cafeteria that overlooked the Hudson River.

NY Center for Space Education – Katherine Brown, of the NYC Challenger Center, gave a talk and materials based on several different NASA-designed science curriculum. We even got free UV beads :)

If you have a Challenger Center near you, go check it out! They are amazing places and fantastic resources for professional development and field trips.

Joy of Chemistry – all I can say about this workshop is that I want to grow up to be as crazy as the two women who presented it! They spent the hour demonstrating awe-inspiring chemistry experiments and describing how they can be effective in the classroom. Their effort to remind us that science is fun was easily rewarded as the room was packed and we were all on the edge of our seats! They recommended reading the book “The Flying Circus of Physics with Answers” for us physics people and gave us the procedure for each of their demonstrations:

  • Floating Golf Ball (my favorite!)
  • Fortune Fish
  • Switch Pitch Ball
  • Magic Sand
  • Secret Message with Window Cleaner
  • Flash Paper
  • Naked Eggs
  • Blue & Orange/Gold Reaction
  • Collapsing Soda Bottle
  • Magic Birthday Candles
  • Soda Geyser (I learned you can use seltzer instead of diet coke – much easier cleanup!)

In addition to the workshops, we had a great walk through the exhibit hall. I’m hoping a few of the booths I left my name with will be sending some sample text books!

Seating Chart for the First Day

After stumbling upon the Classroom Management Protocols; Designing an Environment for Success, I couldn’t help but dream about how to set up a seating chart for the first day.

I’m not too keen on alphabetical seating charts – especially by last name since those kids get grouped together on a regular basis. The first day of school would be a great way to mix things up and provide students with a Nature of Science (NOS) activity.

If you arrange the seats alphabetically by middle name or by first name in a spiral pattern, you can give kids the opportunity to figure out how the room is arranged. Since I am hoping to get a Physics teaching job, my students will be 11th and 12th graders and will know each other enough to begin to figure out the pattern. It’s a great way to point out to them that they already possess the skills necessary to “do science”: they naturally observe, predict, and question in order to find an answer.

Which methods of seating students have you found most successful?

Classroom Management: Designing an Environment for Success

I recently stumbled upon this worksheet compiled by my advisor, Dr. Jessica F. Riccio; I was so excited I had to share it!

Before the school year starts:

  • Get up to speed on the courses you will be teaching, including making a list of the topics required and the topics you should not be covering as per the standards of your school, city, state, etc.
  • Become familiar with the school rules so that when you create your own classroom rules they are not in conflict.
  • Begin to outline the rules which will be non-negotiable in your classroom.
  • Begin gathering supplies for your classroom during the back to school sales (if your school is affluent enough to provide all your materials, draft a wish list).
  • Subscribe to Science News, collect and save Tuesday editions of the Science Times (a New York Time publication), and take interesting photos while on vacations and trips.

The first days of school:

  • Set up a list of positive expectations for the course and share them with your students.
  • Collect personal data from each student (index cards work well) including addresses, email, phone numbers of parents, etc. You may be surprised how much info is not current in the main office.
  • Have a method of seating students for the first day of school in mind and execute it.
  • Develop routines and stick to them for how to start class and end class (will there be a homework box? Or an attendance protocol? A summary question hand in as the bell rings? Do chairs need to be put back in place or boards erased?
  • Go over the rules and the classroom contract for grading, etc. Have the parent sign this as well. You may have to work on this with your department, depending on the school.


  • Use student names.
  • Admonish behavior, not people.
  • Say thank you.
  • Always give the benefit of the doubt, with new opportunities for success if requested.
  • Be honest, firm, and fair.
  • Be reflective of what you have said, of what the student may have meant, and of where the students are coming from emotionally, physically, and biologically.
  • Be available as much as professionally legitimate.