Upper School Science
Independent 6-12 School
What is the one thing you are really passionate about?
I love Biology. I love learning about Biology and being able to share the beauty and complexity with my students. I am fascinated with the ability of modern scientific research to discover new ideas about life. I love how one can connect topics that seem disparate and link their basic components through biological processes. I believe that one of the most important traits for a science teacher is to instill the curiosity, excitement, and love of learning about science My goal is to provide an environment in which to pique a student’s curiosity and cultivate a sense of wonder so that they will be motivated to learn more about biology on their own. I have been fortunate in my teaching experiences where I have been given the encouragement and support to develop the teaching strategies that speak to my objective as a teacher. I believe a supportive and encouraging school environment is foundational to innovation in the classroom. By providing teachers the freedom to be creative in the classroom, this can become a model for students.
What is your current project?
I have several current projects that I am currently incorporating into my Biology class. The first project is bringing 3D printing into my classroom through project-based learning. I see the technology as a cornerstone for understanding some of the more difficult concepts in Biology and to model how biology can be learned through current scientific research. To support this goal, MassCUE graciously provided a grant to purchase a 3D printer. The printer has helped my students grasp many abstract biological concepts, like how structure of a biomolecule leads to its function. 3D printing has also provided my students (especially those that need spatial skills support) the foundation in formulating a visual reference for these challenging concepts. It has served as a great entry point and is being used as a part of a comprehensive approach that includes computer-based visualization and tactile learning. This approach has also prompted students to develop deeper questions.
In developing this technology for my classroom, 3D printing has become one of my passions. I have been engaged and interested in the topic for over a year. I presented my student’s work this past year at the MassCue conference last October and the National Association of Biology Teachers last November. Ultimately, I came to the realization that my students need to be provided the same opportunity for a passion-based project. So this past year, I took a big risk and decided to do the Google 20% project in my Biology classes. The Google 20% time project platform is a great way to engage a student’s curiosity and instill a passion for learning. I wanted to have my students understand what it means to learn through a topic that they were interested in. This was extremely difficult for some students (and myself!) and easy for some others. I am learning a lot through my students; about their interests and how passions can be different for students of varied backgrounds. I loved seeing some students completely ecstatic while others really did not know what they were interested in. In this regard, my students are making the connections that I want them to achieve between their passions and biology. This is an on-going process and will need to be tweaked.
What are you 2/3 favorite apps or tools?
Some of my favorite tools to use in the classroom are learning blogs.
This has become a great way for students to demonstrate their learning (especially during our 20% projects) and review for assessments. Student reflection can provide a way to monitor progress and understanding.
Who do you admire most? Why?
There isn’t any one person in particular that I admire the most but it is more of a group that provides me with inspiration. I am fortunate to have had some great students so far in my career. It might sound a bit cliche, but I admire my students that have a child-like fascination about science and biology. They are constantly on the look-out for some sort of connection between a news story and what we are learning in class. I end up learning a lot from my students and they help me embrace my inner geek.
How do you stay current on trends and new technology?
This is often difficult given the hectic life of a teacher with a family.
I try to stay current by reading online blogs, primary science journal articles, attending national and local conferences, and contributing to technology/teaching associations.