Lauralton teachers present at NCGS conference

Science Department Chair Theresa Napolitano and Science Teacher Jennifer Shea presented a workshop at the National Conference on Girls Education in Philadelphia on February 8, 2014. The conference is part of the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools (NCGS) and had a turnout of 625 educators representing 11 nations. NCGS strives to continually develop and support educational opportunities for girls by blending forefront thinking with real-world applications. The conference provided an environment for such blending through keynote presentations from “forefront thinkers” to Inspire Sessions presented by classroom teachers from across the country. Mrs. Napolitano and Ms. Shea participated in the Inspire Sessions, presenting their multi-modal activities and projects currently being done by Lauralton students.

Both Lauralton teachers are actively involved in a cohort of the Online School for Girls in which teachers further investigate the implementation of STEM—Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics—into current curriculum activities. Their presentation in Philadelphia, “A Blended Approach to Collaborative Research in Physics and Forensics,” was based on their work with Online School for Girls. The presentation focused on teaching practices to develop 21st century skills—communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity and community blend—through varied technologies and learning styles in STEM curriculum. Lauralton Hall has been a member of Online School for Girls since 2012.

“We are taking the old style of the typical textbook learning which involves reading and answering questions to a new three-dimensional experience where students can create virtual and physical models to study and analyze. This brings real life scenarios to the classroom,” states Napolitano.

At Lauralton Hall, students in courses such as Forensics and AP Physics learn to apply science to real cases. For instance Ms. Shea’s forensic class worked on building a human limb discovered at a crime scene; their goal was to study the direction, velocity, height and angle of the blood spatter to help solve the case. “The case is studied in groups. This way students can discover their individual strengths and, as a team, they can combine forces, similar to the way cases would be solved in real life scenarios,” states Shea. Forensics is also a blended course; part of it is in the classroom and the other part is completed online using blogging and programs such as Google Docs to incorporate the use of today’s technology.

“Students are given real world problems to be studied from various angles, including those outside the field of science such as an economic angle when they create proposals and a digital level to take advantage of modern technology, as opposed to answering problems from a textbook. We are able to empower the students to build strengths to use in the world around them,” states Shea.

Napolitano knows the girls enjoy getting a chance to construct projects meant to develop key skills. These skills include the ability to identify opportunities to resolve the challenge, plan and manage the project within the budget and design restraints, handle the intellectual concepts employed and safety issues, manage group members and completion of tasks, write and communicate responsibly, navigate through the unforeseen obstacles that will occur, and document it all.

“The girls’ ability to move through dissonance is a growth that is paramount for future pursuits. They rise to the challenges blending all facets of technology to become empowered to make the extraordinary their ordinary!” states Napolitano. 



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