Monthly Archives: December 2013

Descriptive Astronomy Students Stargaze in Ayden

astronomy photo 2Two nights this November, Bonnie Glass’ Descriptive Astronomy students ventured to Ayden to view the night sky at A Time for Science. Nancy and John Bray set up telescopes, shared stories behind the constellations, and discussed ways these pre-service teachers could use these tales to integrate language and science. They explored other activities appropriate for teaching Earth-Space Systems and learned how A Time for Science could be a field trip destination for their future science students. Students were photographed by the Pitt County Chamber of Commerce and may be included in their annual brochure in the highlight on local STEM activities.

Some of these same students, Tim Maynard, Eddie Enoch and Amanda Myer, returned to volunteer their time at A Time for Science. These students led groups of 3rd graders from Sam Bundy Elementary School as they built straw rockets. They were joined by students from Mrs. Glass’ SCIE 3216, Jenny Hodgin, Alisha Spivey and Kristen Snyder. Thanks to all these students for serving the community in this way. They were great ambassadors for ECU and the Science Education program!

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ECU Professor Joins National Press Briefing on Teacher Performance Assessment

ECU College of Education professor Dr. Diana Lys, second from right, spoke at the National Press Club about ECU’s experience with a new teacher candidate assessment program. (Contributed photo)

The College of Education at East Carolina University was the only institute of higher education represented at the American Association of College Teacher Education press briefing that marked the national launch of teacher performance assessment, referred to as edTPA, after two years of field testing.

edTPA was designed to set a national standard of assessing the capabilities of aspiring teachers, similar to the bar exam for law students. Teacher education candidates seeking their initial teaching license submit an edTPA portfolio of materials and a video that shows them at work in the classroom during their student teaching internship. The candidates are evaluated based on their ability to develop lesson plans, respond to student needs, set standards, differentiate instruction and analyze whether their students are learning, according to the AACTE launch announcement. Trained education professionals score the portfolios.

Dr. Diana Lys, director of assessment and accreditation for the College of Education, was invited to speak at the National Press Club about ECU’s extensive experience with the new teacher candidate assessment that is now ready for all teacher preparation institutes across the country to implement.

edTPA allows individuals across disciplines to speak a common language and to share innovative practices, said Lys at the AACTE briefing. She said edTPA was a “lever for change” at ECU and that it has helped build a bridge to practice between the university and its partner schools.

ECU has been engaged in edTPA since the nationwide pilot began three years ago. The university recorded 96 percent participation among spring student teaching interns in 2013 and is currently the only university in the state to have all education programs on campus participating. edTPA is not mandated by the state of North Carolina, which makes ECU’s breadth and depth of engagement with the  assessment most noteworthy.

“AACTE is proud of the innovative work being done by teacher education faculty and leaders at East Carolina University,” said Saroja Barnes, senior director for professional issues with the AACTE. “We applaud them for the reforms they have engaged in, particularly in relation to their use of performance-based assessments of teacher candidates and clinical practice models. Their reform efforts demonstrate the power of transformative action at the local level to engage in change for improvement. Ultimately it is this type of change that will move the needle on high quality educator preparation and PK-12 student achievement.”

Jaclyn Midgette, a 2013 ECU graduate and now 4th grade reading and social studies teacher at Bullock Elementary School in Lee County, was featured in “Education Week” recently for her experience as a beginning teacher who completed edTPA as an undergraduate student. Even though she described it as “stressful, drawn-out and exhausting,” she said that the assessment process taught her how to reflect on each lesson, which she now does every day.

The briefing was held on November 8 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. and Lys served as a panelist alongside a new teacher who completed edTPA as a student, AACTE leaders, state policy leaders from Illinois and Washington states and National Education Association partners.

Family Science Night in Local School -A Blast From the Past!

Elementary Science Concentration students within the Informal Science Course this semester designed and implemented a Family Science Night for Eastern Elementary School in Pitt County.  On November 14th, Elementary Science Concentration students held a Family Science Night entitled, A Blast from the Past, in which activities focused on contributions of scientists which have impacted our world.  Examples of stations consisted of Neil Degrasse Tyson, famous astrophysicist, demonstrating discoveries of new planets through exploring a virtual telescope, Alexander Graham Bell, making and using telephones (demonstrating how sound travels), and Issac Newton, second law of motion (F=ma), using tarps to explore how much force is needed to pull students across the gym floor.  Students and parents rotated through 9 stations that evening learning of various scientists and their contributions to science.  It was a very successful night with over 140 participants (students and parents) joining us for a night of science.