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On March 12-13 the great team of science teachers at ICJA, including Mr. Newman, Mr. Seymour, Mrs. Gottlieb, Mr. Keller and Mr. Sears, along with Dr. Green, had quite an adventure together at the National Science Teachers’ Association Conference right here at the McCormick Center in Chicago. There were over 1200 sessions to attend and an exciting exhibit hall to explore, and we managed to get the most out of our 20 hours together.

We experienced this event with the curiosity and enthusiasm of young children, transforming from teachers to learners in the first few minutes of our arrival.

We all had on our “STEM lenses,” looking for ways to strengthen our curriculum with 21st century creativity, rigor and relevance. Mr. Newman attended a session on the integration of STEM and learned how one of our neighbors, Glenbrook South High School, integrated STEM over the four years of high school.

Mr. Seymour was sure to wear his bow tie for the event with Bill Nye the Science Guy, and  Mr. Newman snapped a picture of the two bow-tied scientists.

Mrs. Gottlieb was excited to find that she was already doing the kinds of activities that were considered STEM to her chemistry classes. At the same time she gained more ideas to implement in the future, including “flipping the classroom” new techniques. In flip teaching, the students first study the topic by themselves, typically using video lessons prepared by the teacher or third parties. In class students apply the knowledge by solving problems and doing practical work. The teacher tutors the students when they become stuck, rather than imparting the initial lesson in person.

Mr. Keller approached the conference with amazement, making sure he visited every booth and as many sessions as was physically possible. Finding his car in the parking lot at the end of a long exciting day became a true critical thinking activity for us all! We plan to write a “finding car algorithm” next time we attend a conference together.

Whether we were running from the Geico Gecko to the Royal Society of Chemistry to get periodic tables or individual white boards, we all had one mission….to cover as much territory as we could and to assist each other when we saw a great exhibit or session. We were all on a list text message together and in just two days we had over 170 texts to each other, mostly trying to find one another and find the right booth at the right time!

Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, attended this event to collaborate with teachers, telling us, “You are not just teaching, you are transforming students’ lives.” That is something we know we do every day here at Ida Crown!

We met exhibitors from China, New Zealand and best of all, Israel. Fourier Education, a high tech company in Israel was of particular interest. Each one of us met with CEO Ken Zwiebel to learn about the wonderful products to assist us here in the states! Their website, has all sorts of products to assist teachers in their pursuit of 21st century teaching and learning.

Clearly this opportunity created lots of great bonding and energy for all of us! (Pun intended!)

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