North Central College’s Jan Fitzsimmons, executive director of urban education laboratory, and five education students were selected to present at the statewide Illinois Science Education Conference Oct. 27-29 in Tinley Park, Ill.
Student presenters included Bryan Taylor ’13, chemistry major with a minor in secondary education; Michael Swanson ’12, physical education major with a minor in secondary education; Sarah Hall ’12, double major in elementary education and Spanish; Erica Pang ’12, elementary education major with a minor in Spanish; and Anna Laky ’12, chemistry major with minors in secondary education and psychology.
Their presentation, titled “Learning to Teach Math and Science,” emphasized the importance of rigorous structured experience in preparing to teach science and mathematics.
These pre-service teachers shared a DVD of their experience and presented a six-week summer internship in which they used inquiry and problem solving to entice students, ages 6 to 18, in North Central College’s Junior/Senior Scholars program to learn math and science. Included in the presentation were best lesson plans and new-found insights for teaching math and science.
The young educators discussed thematic learning, implementation of a science fair and math Olympics, and the importance of student learning and building competence and confidence in themselves and their students. Finally, the group highlighted the importance of trial and error in learning both science and math and in learning to teach.
North Central’s Junior/Senior Scholars summer camp is a college readiness program that partners with high-need elementary and secondary schools in Aurora and Chicago.
A key objective of Junior/Senior Scholars, says Fitzsimmons, is “our students test out theories of teaching and learning at the camp, creating concepts and gaining a sense of what works to help them build their own theories to meet needs. I hear feedback from principals where our student interns now teach and they see our graduates as some of their best teachers.”