Having presented at several conferences over the past few years, I feel like I have some good stuff to say and pass onto other teachers. While I may not always convey what I want to say in the most effective manner, I do believe that I’ve given my fellow teachers something to think about and even some ideas to implement in their classrooms. Each successive workshop affords me another opportunity to hone my presentation craft.
Yesterday I presented a session on differentiating your STEM curriculum at the NH Science Teachers Association’s annual conference at Pinkerton Academy. Click here to view my presentation. My public speaking skills were quite strong. I moved about the classroom and the teachers in attendance seemed quite engaged. They asked some good questions. At the start of the session, I was having some problems with the active board in the classroom. Every time I touched it, the slideshow advanced. I said, “Hey, what’s going on? It must be set to advance automatically.” Then a teacher in the crowd informed me that it was a new SMART Board and touching it acted like a mouse click and so it advanced. I was amazed and made it known. The group project in which the teachers created egg drop vehicles was a ton of fun. The teachers were focused and seemed to have fun. It allowed me a chance to model good teaching by walking around and asking the groups questions and providing positive feedback. Luckily the classroom in which I presented was near a balcony and so we were able to test the vehicles when finished. It created a bit of an audience, which was very cool. Science is super fun!
While I ran out of time to cover everything I had planned– I tend to be an over planner– I was able to discuss the bid ideas from my presentation. I wanted the teachers to understand how I formulate my STEM units. I use a recipe process I refer to as SNDP (Standards, Neuroscience, Differentiation, and Perseverance.) I went through the value and importance of each aspect so that the teachers see what is needed to create an engaging and academically appropriate unit that incorporates all parts of the STEM acronym. If I were to do this workshop session again, I would revamp a few things. I would focus on the recipe process of creating STEM units and then get into the group project. I would explain the focus of the project in more detail. I would even list the standards used in creating the unit. I might even find other standards that could be used with this activity. I would then go through the process I use in the classroom with the students. I would also allow for more debriefing and discussion. Hopefully, this would bring focus to the session and offer the teachers more details on how to make the STEM approach come about more easily.
Although I’m not getting down on myself about Saturday’s presentation. I thought it went well, but I also realize that failure is all part of the process. I saw room for improvement and want to act on it. Noone is perfect and I realize that growth comes from change and reflection. Perhaps if I facilitate this workshop again, it will be more effective for the teachers in attendance. My goal every time I present at a conference is to help other teachers try new things, take risks, and better engage their students.