Lincoln-Way teacher seizes opportunity to continue learning
Monday, July 25, 2016

It may be summer, but Lincoln-Way teachers continue to seize every possible learning opportunity, even if those opportunities cut into summer vacation time. Over the past few weeks, science teacher Elizabeth Conroy has been busy organizing information that she learned while attending the REcharge Academy in Pittsburgh. In June, Conroy attended the conference, which invites educators to learn more about renewable energy, physical computing, basic circuits, and modelling. The conference encourages makers, tinkerers, and designers to engage in renewable energy content and activities.

After applying for a scholarship to attend, Conroy was awarded the only grant available in Illinois. The academy was packed with hands-on instruction, experiments and evaluations, lectures, tours, and meetings with industrial experts. The maker-style of the conference allowed Conroy to MacGyver random objects together to create circuits, wind turbines, and solar panel driven objectslessons and demonstrations that she will implement in her own classroom, as well as pass along to other teachers.

The conference emphasized hands-on playing as an essential part of student learning, and allowed science instructors of various teaching levels to bounce ideas back and forth. Listening to what kindergarten teachers were doing with their students reinforced the concept that if you have high expectations for your students, they will meet those expectations, says Conroy. To me, seeing the passion among the other teachers and what they could accomplish with young students was really amazing.

Conroy will emphasize much of what she learned in future District 210 science vertical conferences. Over the past few years, these conferences have invited local teachers from feeder schools to discuss student needs and curriculum goals. By aligning with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), teachers are able to assure that K-12 students receive a cohesive and progressive education. Providing resources, demonstrations, and materials for teachers of elementary and junior high students allows Lincoln-Way instructors to reduce potential gaps in curriculum, helping ensure that freshmen have the prerequisite knowledge necessary to succeed at the high school level. Conroy looks forward to bringing her experiences, materials, new ideas, and demonstrations from Pittsburgh to local Lincoln-Way teachers.>