Free Professional Development Webinars

We’ve got four free professional development webinars coming up in the month of April. The first two are specifically for middle school math and science teachers. The second two are for elementary teachers but plenty of the content would be appropriate for older students. Librarians and media specialists, science specialists, informal educators, and others will find them useful as well. Please join us for one or all!

Getting to the Good Stuff: Online Resources for Middle School Math and Science
April 7, 2009, 3:30-4:30pm EST
Presenters: Robert Payo, National Science Digital Library and Kim Lightle, Middle School Portal 2

With huge volumes of materials on the Internet, how can teachers find the good stuff? We’ll explore how the National Science Digital Library and the Middle School Portal 2: Math & Science Pathways project addresses this question. We’ll show you how to find quality materials through organized collections, bundled resources that build teacher content knowledge, and online tools that facilitate better alignment of resources to teaching and promote broader community discussion through social networking.
Registration information: http://nmsa.org/ProfessionalDevelopment/Webinars/tabid/1011/Default.aspx?PageContentID=303

Global Warming and the Polar Regions
April 28, 2009, 3:30-4:30pm EST
Presenters: Jessica Fries-Gaither, Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears and Kim Lightle, Middle School Portal 2

How is climate change shifting earth’s energy balance? In this seminar, we’ll provide content knowledge as well as resources for the middle school science classroom.
Registration information: http://nmsa.org/ProfessionalDevelopment/Webinars/tabid/1011/Default.aspx?PageContentID=303

Ecosystems: Life in the Polar Extremes
Tuesday, April 7, 2009, 6:30-7:45 pm EST
Presenter: Jessica Fries-Gaither, Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears

At first glance, the polar regions may seem barren and lifeless. Yet there are surprisingly rich terrestrial and marine food webs that can be used to illustrate ecological concepts, relationships, and changes. In this web seminar, we’ll discuss the Arctic and Antarctic ecosystems and their response to climate change. Through examples of resources, lessons, activities, books, and teaching strategies, we’ll explore common ecological misconceptions and exemplary science and literacy instructional resources from the Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears cyberzine.
Registration information: https://cc.readytalk.com/r/ae7yw1mqzvzb

Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears: Arctic and Antarctic Birds
April 21, 2009, 6:30pm-8:00pm EST
Presenter: Jessica Fries-Gaither, Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears

Did you know that of the 17 penguin species, only a few live or nest in Antarctica? Or that many of our familiar bird species from the mid-latitudes migrate to breed in polar regions? While we’re all familiar with Emperor penguins, there are many other fascinating birds that call the polar regions home at least part of the year. In this session, develop your own content knowledge and learn how to use birds to promote inquiry, teach physical science concepts, and integrate hands-on science instruction with reading strategies and other literacy skills.

Registration information: http://learningcenter.nsta.org/products/symposia_seminars/NSDL3/Webseminar7.aspx

Designing WebQuests

A well-designed WebQuest allows students to increase their computer technology skills, do research, discover what they didn’t know, and construct new understandings of mathematics and science concepts. WebQuests can be done solo, with a partner, or in small groups. Small groups can jigsaw and gather an even wider breadth and depth of information for teaching and sharing with others. Here are several sites to introduce you to the WebQuest concept and get you started. Adding another teaching strategy to one’s repertoire is a win-win for teachers and learners.

WebQuest.org
This site from San Diego State University claims origination of the technique. The left navigation bar includes links to finding WebQuests and creating WebQuests. The pedagogy in the latter link should not be overlooked.

A WebQuest about WebQuests
This exercise has proven useful for introducing the concept to educators. Working in teams, the participants examine five WebQuests from four different points of view.

Kathy Schrock’s Guide for Educators
This page echoes elements from the site above but includes links to tutorials and rubrics for assessing WebQuests.

Dr. Alice Christie’s What Is a WebQuest?
Here one finds detailed pedagogical and technical information on creating and using WebQuests.


We Want Your Feedback
We want and need your ideas, suggestions, and observations. What would you like to know more about? What questions have your students asked? We invite you to share with us and other readers by posting your comments. Please check back often for our newest posts or download the RSS feed for this blog. Let us know what you think and tell us how we can serve you better. We appreciate your feedback on all of our Middle School Portal 2 publications. You can also email us at msp@msteacher.org. Post updated 4/19/2012.

Assessment Tools

Here are some great resources to help you add variety to your assessment techniques. Assessment Standard C of the National Science Education Standards implies a need for multiple forms of assessment and recommends the following: (a)The feature that is claimed to be measured is actually measured, (b) Assessment tasks are authentic, (c) An individual student’s performance is similar on two or more tasks that claim to measure the same aspect of student achievement, (d) Students have adequate opportunity to demonstrate their achievements, and (e) Assessment tasks and methods of presenting them provide data that are sufficiently stable to lead to the same decisions if used at different times.

The ABCs of Assessment
This article discusses aligning assessment with instruction. It offers ideas on how to evaluate the effectiveness of any given assessment activity, stressing authentic assessment.

Portfolio Assessment
A portfolio is a collection of student work that exhibits the student’s efforts, progress, and achievements in one or more areas of the curriculum. This resource discusses the characteristics of an effective portfolio, types of portfolios, and the phases of portfolio assessment. It offers guidelines on how to get started using portfolios and how to evaluate them, and provides additional resources on portfolio assessment.

Classroom Assessment Techniques
This is a short, easy-to-read matrix of (a) classroom assessment techniques, (b)outlining descriptions, (c) what to do with the data, and (c) the time required for each type of assessment. The techniques included are the minute paper, chain notes, memory matrix, directed paraphrasing, one-sentence summary, exam evaluations, application cards, and student-generated test questions.

Assessment and Evaluation: Middle Level Science
This reference describes the phases of the evaluation process, assessing student progress, student assessment in science, performance-based evaluation in science, record-keeping, program evaluation, and curriculum evaluation. It contains many how-tos for teachers. The document also has a chart detailing what types of evaluation methods are good for evaluating specific skills.


We Want Your Feedback
We want and need your ideas, suggestions, and observations. What would you like to know more about? What questions have your students asked? We invite you to share with us and other readers by posting your comments. Please check back often for our newest posts or download the RSS feed for this blog. Let us know what you think and tell us how we can serve you better. We appreciate your feedback on all of our Middle School Portal 2 publications. You can also email us at msp@msteacher.org. Post updated 11/10/2011.

Brushing Up on Your Middle School Algebra and Geometry

We know that days, weeks, or months without using a skill takes a toll on our proficiency. So it can be with teaching topics in the middle school math curriculum. If it’s been a while since you taught algebra or geometry topics, which are now recommended in “significant amounts” by the NCTM Standards, here are some resources to bring yourself back up to speed.

Insights into Algebra 1: Teaching for Learning
This online professional development workshop for middle and high school teachers explores strategies for teaching 16 topics found in most Algebra 1 programs. In each session, teachers view two half-hour videos that feature effective strategies for teaching specific topics. Then, using a workshop guide, teachers participate in activities designed to help them incorporate these strategies in their own practice.

Learning Math: Patterns, Functions, and Algebra
In this online course designed for K-8 teachers, each of 10 sessions centers on a topic, such as understanding linearity and proportional reasoning or exploring algebraic structure. The teacher-friendly design includes video, problem-solving activities, and case studies that show you how to apply what you have learned in your own classroom.

Learning Math: Geometry
This online course introduces geometric reasoning as problem solving. Intended for K-8 teachers, the sessions explore the properties of geometric figures, the use of mathematical language to express ideas and justify your reasoning, and the basis of proofs and solid geometry.

We Want Your Feedback
We want and need your ideas, suggestions, and observations. What would you like to know more about? What questions have your students asked? We invite you to share with us and other readers by posting your comments. Please check back often for our newest posts or download the RSS feed for this blog. Let us know what you think and tell us how we can serve you better. We appreciate your feedback on all of our Middle School Portal 2 publications. You can also email us at msp@msteacher.org. Post updated 4/07/2012.