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NSTA National Conference 2018

Last week, I joined thousands of science educators in Atlanta for the National Science Teachers Association national conference. It's one of my favorite professional events of the year.

I went to several excellent sessions and came away with some useful tools for the classroom. One standout was sharing an argumentation toolkit developed by The Lawrence Hall of Science in partnership with faculty from Boston College. Their web site includes many helpful resources for implementing and improving argumentation in your classroom. The session I went to focused on reasoning, the portion of an argument that my students struggle with the most. Judging by the packed room, I'd guess I'm not alone!

During the session, the presenters shared a reasoning tool that I'm really excited to use in my classroom. The reasoning tool video on the reasoning page explains it and shows it in action, but here's a screenshot for reference:

Reasoning Tool from The Argumentation Toolkit, The Lawrence Hall of Science

As you can see, the tool is a graphic organizer with three columns: evidence on the left, the claim on the right, and reasoning in the middle. I love this organization -- which is different from how I've always done it with students -- and that the reasoning is actually placed as a bridge between the evidence and claim. I also love the prompt for the reasoning section: "matters because." I think this change in wording will be very helpful with my students. I'll report back after I've had a chance to work with them using this tool!

Another great session was on Eyes on the Solar System, software created by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The amount of information in this program is incredible and will be a great addition to my solar system unit that I'm launching after break with my 5th graders. I can't even begin to do the program justice, so here's a link to an introductory video produced by JPL.

Of course, I got to spend a lot of time talking about my books as well. I signed books in the book store, presented a session on science notebooks, and got to meet a lot of teachers who either already use or are excited to use them in the classroom. That part never gets old, although I'm still getting used to people asking to take pictures with me and my book!

Signing books at the bookstore

I came home excited to implement my new ideas in the classroom and ideas for several new books. Guess I'd better get writing!

If you are a science educator, consider joining me at NSTA's 2019 conference in St. Louis, MO, April 11-14, 2019.

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