Conference amps up teaching skills

Published 8:15 pm Wednesday, April 25, 2012

With regard to education, Page Keeley is a rock star. She’s a teacher’s teacher, renowned for her science and math teaching strategies.

So when she visited Washington last week at the invitation of the Northeast Regional Education Service Alliance, 200 teachers from across northeastern North Carolina came to share in her wealth of knowledge.

Through federal Race to the Top education funds, NERESA brought Keeley down south from Maine, where she serves as senior program director at the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance in Augusta. A former three-term president of the National Science Teachers Association and winner of a Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching, Keeley has authored 12 widely used books about teaching strategy: not just what to teach, but how to teach it and figure out how to teach it better.

Wednesday, Keeley showed the North Carolina teachers ways to maximize the teaching and learning experience of inquiry-based science, an active form of learning in which students’ progress is measured not by how much knowledge they possess, but by how well they developed analytical skills.

Thursday, the topic turned to formative assessment — methods teachers can use to fine-tune instruction simply so their students retain more, which often means testing.

“A summary of (Thursday’s conference), is that teachers should look at assessment as more than just testing,” said Glenda Moore, Beaufort County Schools K-5 curriculum coordinator. “It’s a way to promote learning.”

Moore and Ashley Padgett, BCS 6-12 curriculum coordinator, orchestrated the two-day event held at the Washington Civic Center.

“We chose to do it at our Civic Center because it’s a nice setup and could hold this many people,” said Moore. “It was a good thing for the community, too. We had people spend the night in our hotels and walk downtown, eat in our restaurants.

The beauty of it is that we have such a quaint, little town.”

According to Padgett, Washington was chosen as the most-central meeting point for the teachers from 17 school districts in northeast North Carolina. Now those teachers will take the knowledge gained from the conference and return to their schools to share with fellow teachers.

But the teachers weren’t the only ones learning something new last week. According to Moore, Keeley got a crash course in Down East cuisine (eastern North Carolina-style, that is) via hushpuppies, cheese biscuits and barbecue with vinegar-based sauce — an education in good eats.