September 24, 2014

Workshop focuses on teaching science

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Teachers from throughout the area can learn about new science standards and ways to integrate them into their classrooms at an upcoming workshop at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. 

The workshop, part of the Community of Problem Solvers program at SIU, is set for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 4, in Morris Library’s John C. Guyon Auditorium. The effort, funded by the National Science Foundation, is aimed at helping K-12 schoolteachers create practical strategies for teaching Next Generation Science Standards, or NGSS. 

Carol Keene Baker, a member of the NGSS standards-writing team for Illinois, will lead the workshop, which is free. Baker, director of curriculum for science and music at Community High School District 218 in Oak Lawn, develops curriculum and assessments for all science and music courses. She previously taught all levels of high school physics for 18 years, during which time she participated in many science competitive professional development experiences, including Department of Energy Teacher Research Associates, NASA Educational Workshops for Mathematics and Science Teachers, and QuarkNet. 

Organizers say the event will allow teachers to engage in a meaningful dialogue on what the new standards mean for them and their students. Baker will lead a presentation of the subject, followed by a hands-on breakout session. 

The NGSS is based on the “Framework for K-12 Science Education” developed by the National Research Council. It is the result of a collaborative, state-led discussion and process to establish new, internationally competitive science standards for American students. 

Illinois is one of 26 states leading the effort. The Illinois State Board of Education adopted the NGSS in February. The new standards go into effect in the 2016-17 school year. 

A Community of Problem Solvers, also known as The Robert Noyce Master Teaching Fellowship Program, is a comprehensive science and mathematics education program at SIU Carbondale. The program is a collaboration between the College of Science and the College of Education and Human Services at SIU, in partnership with Shawnee Community College, regional school districts and local non-profit agencies. It is designed to transform the way schools engage K-12 students in science and mathematics. 

Participating educators work on local real-world science problems, including issues at the Cache River wetlands and other sites. Teachers learn how to integrate such situations, which involve science and mathematics, into their classrooms, with the help of financial and professional support from the program. 

“We are so pleased to offer this free NGSS workshop to area teachers,” Karen Renzaglia, professor of plant biology and program director for the Community of Problem Solvers effort at SIU, said. “This workshop is just a small part of the important work we do every day to build a community of teacher-leaders who are improving their students' skills and literacy in science, mathematics and technology.” 

Space is limited. Teachers can register at For more information, contact James Gray, program manager, or 618/453-4586.