DE: So much more than just a conference and so much more than a Digital Text… 32 teachers from across the nation came together at the University of Indianapolis to dig into the layers of the DE science techbook, realizing what we are really involved in is extending beyond the techbook!
The DE Science Techbook is an amazing product but building scientific learners involves multiple diverse learning opportunities using both digital and hands on experiences. By encorporating multiple scientific experiences we can create amazing synergy in student understanding and engagement.
After being together for only a little over a day, we had already experienced so many ways to diversify learning in our classrooms!
The first night, I had the opportunity to learn from Dr Lodge McCammon. After learning from Lodge 2 times prior, you may think there would not be much for me to gain but I was once again intrigued and impressed. Dr Lodge demonstrated effective methods of gaining classroom time while concentrating on student application, analysis, synthesis through publishing. Lodge explained effective “flipping” lesson techniques and how these lessons lend time to further engage students by explaining what they have learned in the flipped lesson through a paper slide show videos. As we engaged in a Kinesthetic lesson, I learned a quick, efficient way to assess student readiness for filming. Dr Lodge has many engaging, content driven songs available on DE Streaming, which also contain the lyrics for teachers to use. This year, Lodge strategically arranged us into groups around the perimeter of the room so that upon recording, we were prepared to rotate through our parts without chaos. This organization strategy helped me understand how I could efficiently and effectively run such a lesson with 25 students in a classroom!
Tuesday, we went to Morgan -Monroe State Park. Two Professors from the Purdue University Extension Joined us to discuss biodiversity and sustainability of the forest and the dynamics of fragile ecosystem. Dr. Rob Chapmann, Purdue extension forest & wildlife specialist and Dr Lenny Farlee, an extension forester professor, explained the many proactive measures the DNR is engaging in to restore the original vegetation including the Red and White Oak trees. We discussed the multiple Purdue research projects in progress including effective vegetation restoration through multiple cutting techniques while considering the relative positive wildlife impact of the clear cutting area which re-established. Purdue has free resources for STEM teachers which you can find here.
After experiencing the hands on activity in the forest, we returned to the university and worked until 9 PM learning to build a techbook lesson around the biodiversity activities. We explored a multitude of relative DE Techbook resources, lessons and tools to support the experiences of the day relative to our state standards. This Mini- DE Techbook experience set the stage for a full day of Techbook training on Wednesday.
Wednesday was packed with techbook philosophy, helping educators understand the nuances within each of the 5 E’s and how the Techbook transforms otherwise passive learners to active scientists, exploring experimenting and exlpaining their findings through scientific inquiry. Patty Duncan shared a model lesson featuring the explore and explain components regarding the 3 essential questions of the lesson. Mike Bryant shared the many strategies in creating both formative and summative assessments within the techbook as well as extending alternative assessments. Lance Rougeux demonstrated how the techbook encourages literacy far beyond what any traditional text can. I was impressed with the many layers of literacy within the techbook resources and activities. “Text” comes in many forms, including interpreting data, charts and graphs. Text is also found within video, images and songs, where students glean relative information as they conduct their research to support their scientific claims.
Wednesday evening gave all the attendees the opportunity to share their favorite 21st C educational tools. We all enjoyed the evening of sharing, gaining insight into many21st C. resources and tools.
Thursday Mike Bryant gave us a Sneak Peak into the new series that will air following the 25th anniversary of Shark Week, which is North America. he also shared with us a sneak peak of the High School Biology Techbook and STEM resources. The High School Techbook was impressive and I am anxious to see more!
As we wrapped up the conference, I was asked to share my feelings regarding our greatest resource – each other. The DEN community is what drives our passion. By taking advantage of local DEN Events and national webinars, we can retain our momentum, always finding support from DEN educators from across the nation. Teachers were encouraged to continue the conversation, sharing what they have learned, as DEN Star Educators.