Monday, April 25, 2005 has been a full day for this old country boy. It was day of professional development. The presenters at this year’s Distinguished Teacher Forum were among the best I have even attended. The day started with a wonderful breakfast buffet. We were treated to scrambled eggs, bacon, link sausage, and fruit-juice of your choice, coffee, and good ol’ hot runny grits. I looked for some country biscuits, but did not see any and was too polite to ask if they had left them in the kitchen. My mama always told me—“Son, it you don’t see it, don’t ask for it.” She would have been proud of me for holding my tongue. If I would have been at home in Chadbourn, I would have been fine with a bowl of 2% milk and raisin bran cereal.
After breakfast, around 8:30 am, we were off to concurrent sessions. The first one I attended was titled: “Integrating Science in the Middle School Inquiry-Based Science Class. Fellow talented educator Tommie Evans presented it. She is the Piedmont-Triad/Central Region Teacher of the Year 2004-2005. Tommie’s handout is a wonderful resource. After listening to her presentation, I know what activity I want to try with my middle school science students the last few weeks of school. I have to try Water Rockets. She told us that her students have been “doing them for the last 12 years and has yet to find a group of students who do not love it and learn a lot from it.” She pointed us to a website www.nerds.com as a resource for the materials we need for this activity. I was impressed with her lab activity sheet for this activity. In addition to Tammie’s lab activity worksheet, she also presented ideas on how to use science lab notebooks in the middle school inquiry-based science class. This handout blew me away. I have to start using them with my alternative school science students. It is a perfect way to document and access their science skills. Her science lab notebook ideas appear to require students to develop organizational skills and force them to write, graph, sketch and label diagrams, and much more. The 8 clear steps she presented in her presentation help students to see how real scientists record their work. Best of all, she provided participants in her work session with photocopies of actual student work. Lat but not least, Tammie surveyed how her school uses a thematic approach to teach ecological topics. Her students read HOOT by Carl Hiaasen and integrate math, social studies, language arts and PE in this science concept. Great job Tammie! You made my day.
I attended several other sessions during the morning. In up coming blogs, I will share some of the other excellent sessions.