Note: These posts were written in April 2013 as I attended the NSTA Annual Conference at San Antonio, Texas, as a New Science Teacher Academy Fellow. Due to standardized testing and a hectic schedule back at home, I am now only able to upload these posts! Sorry for the long delay.
Sessions attended and lessons learned
With only one event to attend on Friday, my schedule was less frantic and overwhelming this day. I was able to take my time and really enjoy the conference on my own. The morning began with a chemistry presentation sponsored by DOW Chemical Company. Several chemists shared hands-on inquiry labs that we teachers can use in the classroom. We rotated among 4 stations– creating goofy putty, cleaning pennies with lemon juice, searching for iron in our cereals, and making tie-dye patches through chromatography with Sharpies and rubbing alcohol. I had tons of fun, and was already brainstorming ways to incorporate some of these labs during the last few weeks of school or for our annual Field Day event in June.
One of the other sessions I enjoyed today was one on using 3D graphic organizers for formative assessment. This helped me continue my focus on measuring student learning, and it was also a fun break from the countless hours of sitting through PowerPoints and discussions. Originally I tried to get into one of Dinah Zike’s foldable sessions, but after seeing the very long lines, I quickly realized I was better off attending one of her off-shoot sessions. This was a fun session, and I was able to pick up the basic folds and several strategies on how to use foldables for formative assessment. This session taught me that sometimes you have to figure out how to work smarter, not harder!
Focus group survey
As part of their research, NSTA selected me as one of the candidates for a focus group survey regarding NSTA2 and the annual conference. I actually enjoyed this short time with the researchers and the other candidates because it allowed me to provide feedback about what worked and what didn’t work for me throughout the year as I worked as a teacher fellow. It felt good to have an outlet to voice myself, and to provide feedback and suggestions on how to improve the Academy for future candidates. I really hope that NSTA thinks about creating a website and forum for NSTA2 alumni. I would love to come back as a mentor one day, and give back to the professional learning community.
After spending most of the morning and afternoon in sessions and in the Exhibit Hall, my brain told me I needed to take a break and get away from information overload. One of the best things about this trip was meeting and making new friends who love to eat and try new things like me. After a quick text, a friend and I took off and enjoyed the lovely Texas spring day at one of San Antonio’s botanical gardens. The beautiful flowers, peaceful setting, and a leisurely walk were exactly what we needed!
One of the best things about this conference was meeting other passionate science teachers. I was very lucky to meet this special group of ladies on my trip. Though we all came from different cities and taught different grades and subjects, I felt a great connection to these women. It’s not every day that you meet a stranger, and feel as if you have known them for years! I had a great time sharing what I learned from the sessions, and exploring San Antonio with them! I wish them the best in all their endeavors, and know that they are out there making a positive change in many lives.