|High school science teachers invited to May 1 symposium|
|Tuesday, April 15, 2008|
Local high school teachers are invited to a May 1 symposium on new ideas about teaching biology, just developed at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Future science teachers and their instructor will demonstrate lesson plans and share learning materials in the symposium, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Carolina Center for Educational Excellence, 9201 Seawell School Road, Chapel Hill. High school science teachers interested in attending should call (919) 962-3705.
The UNC students and their instructor, Jennifer Coble, brainstormed the ideas in a new undergraduate program, UNC Baccalaureate Education in Science and Teaching (UNC-BEST). The program. aims to address a statewide science teacher shortage by allowing biology and physics majors to earn N.C. teaching licensure while completing their science degrees. UNC-BEST is an initiative of the School of Education and the College of Arts and Sciences.
Coble, UNC-BEST biology coordinator and instructor and a lecturer in the biology department in the UNC College of Arts and Sciences, said that high school students learn best through hands-on experiences, such as participating in simulations, building models and conducting experiments. “Designing and trouble-shooting such lessons is quite time-consuming, and it can be difficult for practicing teachers to find this time,” she said.
Students in Coble’s course on biology teaching methods selected topics from the state’s biology curriculum and worked to develop lesson plans, hands-on experiences and learning resources. To ensure that the lessons would be practical for public school use, the students used inexpensive materials and designed the lessons to fit the instructional schedule, or pacing guide, that science teachers are encouraged to follow.
One group of Coble’s students discovered that existing dissection guides for teaching high school students about animal adaptations were probably too difficult for a 14-year-old. So the students created new guides and lesson plans that would allow teens to observe a variety of animal adaptations first-hand in just a few class periods.
High school science teachers attending the symposium will participate in instructional demonstrations, examine specimens and see final products. Each teacher also will receive a compact disc of lesson plans, student readings, scientific discussions and other resources.
Coble’s class is one of many UNC courses designed to provide a service to the public as part of the student-led APPLES program, Assisting People in Planning Learning Experiences in Service.
“There is enormous potential for aligning teacher education with teacher outreach and service,” said Coble. “Learning how to use inquiry-based instruction within the contexts of today’s classrooms is the real-world challenge these future teachers will face when they begin their own careers. Designing lessons to share with practicing teachers provides an authentic way for students to develop these skills while supporting their future colleagues.”
Keiko Stout, a junior biology major, agrees.
“Knowing that the lesson plans I’ve been working on are not just assignments has definitely motivated me to take this project, and this class, to another level,” Stout said. “Who knows, maybe one of my lessons will serve as an inspiration for the world’s next great scientist.”