Two thousand twenty came to a close with many challenges in providing teachers and students across North Carolina best science practices, since most instruction was delivered virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In response to the critical issues of effective virtual pedagogies and providing equity to all students, the North Carolina Science Leadership Association sprang into action. Four webinars were developed, hosting North Carolina’s top experts in science education to address these issues.
In September, Dr. Jamie Lathan and Candice Chambers from the North Carolina School of Science and Math in Durham addressed “Remote Learning, Strengths/Weaknesses, and Strategies for Success.” They explained five principles of distance education in a hybrid learning environment: 1) don’t miss the moment, 2) a rising tide lifts all boats, 3) Maslow over Bloom, 4) connection over content, and 5) student choice, voice, and agency. Two of NCSLA’s board members, Kerrie Lalli and Beth Harris, showed how this actually looks in the virtual classroom, giving us examples of online resources and classroom techniques. NCSLA was honored to present Brenda Berg from NCBest with the Michael C. Jackson Distinguished Service Award sponsored by Explore Learning. NCSLA sponsors Explore Learning and Foss Delta were highlighted.
The October webinar featured Michelle Ellis, SciEd Educator/Consultant and NSTA District VI Director from Gaston County Schools, Jose Garcia, STEM Curriculum Director from Green County, and Alfred Mays, Director/Chief Strategist for Diversity and STEM Ed from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. These panel experts delivered presentations centered around “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in STEM Initiatives,” emphasizing that all students – regardless of background or circumstance – have the opportunity to reach their full potential. The challenges and disparities in terms of student performance assessments, high quality hands-on curriculum, and access to STEM programming were addressed. Participants were given the opportunity to engage the panel experts, exploring issues and solutions in Zoom breakout rooms NCSLA sponsors Burroughs Wellcome Fund and Learn Ed Notebooks were highlighted.
In the 3rd webinar held in November, Pamela Gilchrist, PhD, Director of The Science House’s Anderson and Imhotep Academies at North Carolina State University, and Alonzo Alexander, STEM Education Researcher, explored best practices for engaging rural and urban middle school students in a Forensic STEM Mystery. This session presented strategies used to create a positive distance learning experience in a virtual STEM outreach program. The role of equity in teaching and learning, how educators can implement digital tools to develop and enhance students’ immersiveness, the cultivation of community between teachers and students, the empowerment of student self-guided learning, and the remote evaluation of student progress were discussed. The session provided a platform for educators to use the 3D interactive tool and considered ways to enhance the STEM learning experiences of future students. NCSLA was delighted to present Michelle Ellis with the Herman and Emma Gatling Award for Outstanding Science Education Leadership in North Carolina sponsored by Carolina Biological. Gatling family members joined us in this presentation. We were also pleased to have Beth Allen, NSTA President, deliver our keynote. NCSLA sponsors Pasco and Carolina Biological were highlighted.
December’s Webinar #4 presenters Lenora Crabtree, PhD, Instructor from the Cato College of Education at UNCC and Tosha Diggs, PhD, Assistant Superintendent for Academic Services from Craven County Schools, examined barriers to Culturally Relevant Pedagogy (CRP) and explored the benefits of engaging students in culturally relevant, place-based science inquiry. CRP, a conceptual framework (by Ladson-Billings) for teaching and learning, emphasizes the importance of academic rigor, affirmation of students’ cultural identities, and the support of students' socio-political consciousness. Curriculum designed specifically for North Carolina teachers and students was provided, adapting science instruction for face to face or online settings. NCSLA sponsors Texas Instruments and Legends of Learning were highlighted.
Beverly Lyons, Current Past President, was the moderator of each webinar. Pat Shane, Development Chair, recognized and thanked NCSLA sponsors for their ongoing support, and Gavin Fradel, 6-8 Science Consultant at NCDPI, gave important updates each month. Many thanks to all who prepared, supported, presented, sponsored, and participated to make this webinar series a rich experience in an attempt to guide North Carolina educators towards success with effective pedagogies for virtual teaching and meaningful ways to provide equity and social justice in classroom settings.
Looking to 2021, NCSLA will be providing webinars that will target key findings from educators’ virtual teaching adventures in 2020. Be on the lookout for announcements and register with and/or join NCSLA to be a part of the conversation - How we are doing, and what’s next.
NCSLA 2019-2020 President