The HudsonAlpha educational outreach team, in collaboration with A+ College Ready and the Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative with the Alabama State Department of Education, will publish a new educational resource this fall that aligns with the updated 2016 Alabama Course of Study: Science. The book – which Dr. Neil Lamb, vice president for educational outreach, calls “a travel guide for Alabama biology teachers” – will be available at no cost to teachers across the state.
“This compendium – carefully compiled and enhanced with educator tips and background – allows teachers to confidently select the most appropriate resources and learning tools for biology instruction,” said Dr. Lamb. “Without it, teachers face the daunting task of sorting through an array of activities, modules and materials that may be interesting to their students but do a poor job of upholding the explanatory learning required by the new course of study.”
The compendium project launched in October 2015 when The Boeing Company gave HudsonAlpha a $50,000 grant to assemble educational resources to assist biology teachers in adopting the new standards, which represent a 60 percent increase in genetics content over previous biology standards. Led by educational outreach team member Madelene Loftin, the project brought together 10 experienced ninth grade Alabama biology teachers. The teachers tested and linked resources to each standard and created a guide to help their colleagues bring the new science education standards into the classroom.
Alabama science teachers tested and linked compendium resources
The educators who worked on the compendium project say they hope the book will help their fellow teachers transition smoothly to working with the new standards. Kim Miller – a Fairhope High School teacher who was part of the team that assembled, tested and linked the resources in the compendium – emphasizes that the book will save teachers important planning time because the work of interpreting and sequencing the standards and searching for appropriate activities is already done. Miller said the book will help teachers “gain an understanding that the new course of study shifts from a teacher-centered classroom to a student–centered classroom.”
St. Clair County High School teacher Mary Busbee explained that shift. “Our new standards are vastly different than anything Alabama teachers have seen before,” Busbee said. “These new standards require the impetus for learning to be put on the students. Teachers may need to change their whole idea about how to present content with these new standards. The document that we are giving them will take the stress out of this process, or at least lessens the stress.”
Citronelle High School science teacher and science department chair Melody Hopkins Tucker, PhD, echoes her colleagues’ confidence that the project can provide teachers with valuable tools this year. “The compendium provides teachers with learning opportunities that will allow students to ‘experience’ science, not just ‘learn’ science,” Tucker said. “Students will participate in rich, meaningful, rigorous learning experiences that are student-centered and will enable them to be actively involved in the learning process. The resources from the compendium will increase students’ motivation, engagement, science practice skills and higher order thinking skills.”
Project coordinator Loftin said the compendium project would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of the motivated, expert science educators who contributed to the publication.
“These talented teachers have devoted a substantial amount of time, energy and creativity to make this compendium possible,” said Loftin. “This book can be incorporated into the teacher training programs of all three collaborating partners, which collectively reach every public school biology class in Alabama.”
Educators who contributed to the compendium project include (left to right): Keshia Williams, Lee High School; Ben Johnston, Bob Jones High School; Nerissa DeRamus, Thompson High School; Mary Busbee, St. Clair County High School; Leslie Machen, Sparkman High School; Teresa Gregory, Clay-Chalkville High School; Eve Kendrick, Northside High School; Kim Miller, Fairhope High School; Melody Hopkins-Tucker, Citronelle High School; Susan Dial, Gardendale High School
“This document is hands-down the most valuable resource available to Alabama Biology teachers. We all have to modify our teaching styles to meet the new course of study standards and this document serves as a “how-to” guide. It will help veteran teachers to get out of their comfort zone to try a new approach to teaching. It will provide new teachers with a guide for what they need to teach to meet the goals of the COS standards. It will also provide them with resource ideas which have been evaluated by master teachers. I personally will be using this document because there are so many wonderful resources included in it. The compendium will set the tone for how Alabama will improve its Biology curriculum.”
– Nerissa DeRamus, EdS, Pre-AP Biology/AP Biology Teacher, Thompson High School/Alabaster City Schools
“Boeing works toward a future where all students have access to learning so that they can develop their skills, do what they dream, and build something better. To that end, Boeing supports learning from birth through college and career readiness to improve how students learn and teach them the skills needed to be adaptable – to both acquire knowledge throughout their life and apply it successfully.”
– Tina Watts, Boeing Community & Education Relations Specialist on presenting the grant to HudsonAlpha