NSTA Area Conference – Orlando 2014

UnknownOverall Experience

This was my first opportunity to attend an NSTA conference. It was only an hour from my school so they were happy to send me for 2 of the 3 days! I pretty much went to as many sessions as I could. I felt very inspired when I left. Thought, I would share some of my take aways.

Take Aways

Page Keely Probes

images-4Page Keeley has written a series of books that “probe” the knowledge of your students formatively. They are a great way to really provide formative data on your students understanding. I honestly do not know what rock I have been under that was keeping me from these! I have already used a few of them and I must say I am a fan. I love explaining and identifying gaps in my students knowledge and these probes are a cornet way to do that. Check out their website I am a super fan!

“Uncovering Student Ideas in Science, Volumes 1-4, provide a set of grades K-12+ formative assessment probes that link key concepts in science to commonly held ideas described in the research on learning. These probes can be used to reveal the variety of conceptions, including misconceptions, naive ideas, partially correct or incomplete ideas, and scientific ideas students bring to their learning. Used individually or as a set, these probes provide the diagnostic and formative tools science teachers at all grades need to uncover the preconceptions students bring to their learning and inform pathways needed to build a conceptual bridge from where students are at any point in the instructional cycle to where they need to be scientifically.”


Unknown-1CPALMS is an online toolbox of information, vetted resources, and interactive tools that helps educators effectively implement teaching standards. It is the State of Florida’s official source for standards information and course descriptions. Standards based resources that are ready to be used in the classroom, a science teachers dream! A must visit Cpalms.org

It’Unknowns Debatable

I thoroughly enjoyed this session presented by the authors on how to use real issues to teach science.  It is always my goal to have students learn how to become effective thinkers in the real world. When taught well, science does a great job of having kids look at evidence and find ways to support their thinking. This book describes a concrete way to actually implant this into the classroom. IT IS GREAT! When I first began teaching I used to have my students debate all the time, not sure why I have stopped. It really helps them reinforce content. This session gave me drive to get back to this practice. Here is a blurb from their site…

“Should local governments lower speed limits to reduce traffic fatalities? Should pharmaceutical companies be allowed to advertise prescription drugs directly to consumers? These are the kinds of real-world questions K–12 students can explore using the Socioscientific Issues Framework at the core of It’s Debatable! Both practical and content-rich, this book doesn’t shy away from controversy. Instead, it encourages scientific literacy by giving students practice in research, analysis, and argumentation and by confronting just how messy the questions raised by science (and pseudoscience) can be.”


  • TAKE GREAT NOTES: How many times did you write down something at a conference and could remember where or what your wrote? I had a chance to be a student and use Notability, which is the app that my students use on their iPads at school. It was the best thing I had ever done. Note taking in partnership with the camera and recoding feature made my sessions very effective and also now living documents that I can read again and listen to for refreshers!
  • SNAP PICTURES: I look many pictures an then imported them into notes
  • PLAN: Plan your visit down to the minute and figure out how far session sites are from each other I had a 15 min walk from one session to another with only 10 min in between by bookings. I was late and I don’t like being late!
  • PURCHASE BOOKS: Many books were discounted at the conference so I keep a list of ones I want and waited until the conference to purchase things.
  • BE ORGANIZED: Bring a binder or pocket folders and a hole punch and organize papers you collect them. I hate ending up with mountains of papers, brochures, things I could use after the conference which, let’s face it, we often throw away!

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