To help you make the most of the professional development opportunities available at the Denver conference, the Conference Committee has planned the conference around three strands that explore topics of current significance, enabling you to focus on a specific area of interest or need.
Classrooms are the playgrounds that challenge and excite children. In these playgrounds, they practice, explore, and discover. Science gives students a relevant and engaging purpose for reading, writing, and problem solving. Research shows that the integration of science and literacy enhances the learning of preK–8 students. As reflected in the Common Core State Standards and the highly anticipated Next Generation Science Standards, integrating science into literacy and mathematics instruction improves students' thinking skills, such as cause and effect, summation, prediction, and analysis. Students who do science build and strengthen their reading, writing, speaking, listening, and problem-solving skills as they develop a deeper understanding of science.
Engineering effectively provides foundational knowledge in science, technology, and math through innovative and creative approaches in the classroom, giving all students an opportunity to prepare for "their individual lives and for their roles as citizens in this technology-rich and scientifically complex world." (A Framework for K–12 Science Education). Students enter a classroom having experienced some form of engineering, ranging from cosmetics to robotics to smartphones. This empowers students and teachers to problematize, using personal connections and science concepts to solve real-world problems. This strand will highlight classroom practices that emphasize skills in critical thinking, leadership, problem solving, collaboration, communication, media, and technology in the transdisciplinary context of STEM.
"Science, engineering, and technology permeate nearly every facet of modern life, and they also hold the key to meeting many of humanity’s most pressing current and future challenges" (A Framework for K–12 Science Education). This strand focuses on helping teachers to implement innovative STEM instruction. For example, STEM inside and out refers to developing rich, authentic student-designed projects. This type of collaborative instruction involves teachers and students networking within and outside their classroom to call upon scientific expertise as well as community and global resources. To meet the needs of all students, educators must engage students to prepare for their individual lives and roles as citizens.
For a list of sessions for each strand, click on the links above.