To help you make the most of the professional development opportunities available at the Nashville conference, the Conference Committee has planned the conference around four strands that explore topics of current significance, enabling you to focus on a specific area of interest or need.
Setting the Stage: Scientific Literacy
To reach the goal of a scientifically literate population, it is imperative to build an understanding of the nature of science, history of science, inquiry, and the practices of science and engineering. Students need opportunities to learn how scientists "know what they know" and what sound science looks like. In this strand, participants will develop understanding of the nature of science for all learners and explore how science and scientific tools have progressed over time.
Building the Band: Involving Community Stakeholders
To build authentic science experiences, it is necessary to reach outside a school's walls to form strategic partnerships with informal science education (museums, community resources), Economic and Community Development (ECD), chambers of commerce, institutes of post-secondary education, after-school program providers, and national and local extracurricular groups (e.g., scouts, boys and girls clubs, and environmental education groups). Together, educators and stakeholder organizations can leverage opportunities for grants, outreach, and real-world collaboration for students. Participants in this strand will gain ideas for locating external resources and developing partnerships to strategically support instruction for real-life learning experiences.
Harmonizing Concepts: Integrating Instruction
High-quality instruction demands integration of STEM content with leading initiatives such as the Common Core State Standards, in English language arts and mathematics; CTE (Career and Technical Education); and subject areas, including social studies and the arts in trans-disciplinary approaches to teaching and learning. Authentic science learning requires concepts and skills from across multiple content areas. This strand will allow participants to explore how integrating targeted skills and concepts from other content areas can enhance science instruction and engage learners. Also emphasized will be the power of science to reinforce other content through authentic application tasks.
Stringing It All Together: Three-Dimensional Learning
The NRC Framework and the Next Generation Science Standards identified best practices from research for today's learners. Good instruction must incorporate the NGSS three dimensions of crosscutting concepts, disciplinary core ideas, and science and engineering practices. Three-dimensional science learning produces scientifically literate and competent students. This strand will exemplify the intertwining nature of the three dimensions necessary for the highest quality science instruction. This strand will be tied together by accessing the latest research findings regarding science education.