March 23, 2014 by Dr. G
“If you worry about getting through the entire textbook, then you are forgetting why you are there [in the classroom].” — Dr. Lori Weeden, University of Massachusetts Lowell
Today was the first full day of the 2014 Northeastern Section Meeting of the Geological Society of America in Lancaster, PA. The Northeastern Section, or NEGSA, is composed of GSA members located in the District of Columbia and the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The Section also includes the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and that part of Ontario east of the 89th meridian. The NEGSA meeting is always held in the spring semester and is well attended by not only faculty but graduate and undergraduate student presenters.
Myself and a colleague proposed a session on Geoscience Education, for K-12 teachers and faculty to present their best practices and pedagogical innovations from the classroom. The session did not begin until 10:15AM this morning, so I spent the early part of the morning attending a different session held in the same room on Service Learning in the Geosciences. But then it was my turn! I did not present at NEGSA, I only chaired the Geoscience Education session. The duties of a session chair include introducing the speakers, pulling up each PowerPoint presentation, and keeping track of the clock (each speaker had only 20 minutes to speak), passing off the slide advancer and laser pointer from speaker to speaker, and making sure the talks kept to the schedule in the program.
The best part of the session was hearing the presentations from each speaker. The first two speakers were K-12 teachers, and it was fascinating to hear what they are doing with their students with the IPCC report and digital mapping. The session also had presentations on the flipped classroom, getting students out in the field, and how to get students from other disciplines involved in geoscience research – all impressive work! But the statement I heard that will probably stick with me the longest is the quote I have at the top of this post – a good reminder that courses should not be designed around and all about the textbook (+1 from me!).
Before I left the meeting to head up to Reading, PA, for my next meeting (starts tomorrow!), I was able to walk around the Exhibit Hall and catch up with some colleagues that teach at other universities. I wish I had more time at NEGSA, as I always welcome the opportunity to be around and interact with fellow geologists. Next up – a meeting at the Penn State Berks campus on teaching sustainability at Penn State.