By: Sharon Aron Baron
Science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics were just a few of the classroom subjects highlighted in the innovative projects by teachers at the Annual Broward Education Teacher’s Expo in February.
Celebrating its 20th Anniversary, the Broward Education Foundation has been helping educators align innovative teaching with today’s societal needs, and this year science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics were just a few of the classroom subjects highlighted.
Nearly 500 teachers from Cooper City, Coral Springs, Davie, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Tamarac, Miramar – and every city in between brought their most innovative classroom projects, thanks to grants through the Broward Education Foundation which has benefitted 332,300 Broward County students in the classroom.
“We have hosted this fantastic Teacher Expo for two decades. It is a platform for educators to share their innovative ideas with each other,” said Christina Fischer, Broward Education Foundation, chair of the board of directors. “Our Teacher Expo allows best practices to be deployed throughout BCPS classrooms, which creates a learning environment for our students that results in optimal educational outcomes.”
Dona Maggio from Coral Springs High School has been attending the Teacher Expo since the beginning. Her project “Reading Across the Curriculum” encourages students to increase reading, writing and research skills while developing public speaking proficiency and increasing their ability to use appropriate digital presentation tools. Incorporating the latest technology and project based learning into this innovative approach of pairing fiction and non-fictional texts, primary/secondary sources, evaluating resources to choose and use information responsibly helped students to become more informed and prepared for the challenges of college and career.
“Students are motivated by the pairing of fictional with a non-fictional text and become more engaged in the topic,” says Maggio. “We’re teaching students how to think critically.”
Debra Brand from Sawgrass Springs Middle School in Coral Springs who dressed in superhero attire, uses the topic of super heroes in her Bigger Than Life project to teach students figurative language. Brand teaches English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and Level 1 Intensive Reading and developed the project especially for these students.
“Superheroes cross all cultural barriers which is why this project is perfect for teaching ESOL students writing and how to identify the different characteristic traits of each super hero,” she said.
Michelle Weiss and Susan Weiss
Former Tamarac Elementary teacher Michelle Weiss created a unique project with her mother Susan Weiss, a teacher at Western High School in Davie. Their project called “Fun In The Sun with Science” teaches imagination, art, literacy and environment and is designed to create excitement for science in students from ages three to 18. The concept of their project is to start teaching science in fun ways to students at a young age to spur their interest in the subject once they reach high school. Michelle taught it to her preschool school students while Susan teaches it to her high school students. The concept of their project is to start teaching science in fun ways to students at a young age to spur their interest in the subject once they reach high school.
“Our project allows you to get wet and learn at the same time. Science experiments can be adapted to meet particular sunshine state standards for the educator in any grade,” said Michelle Weiss.
Sponsored by BrightStar Credit Union and hosted by Nova Southeastern University’s Fischler School of Education & Human Resources, the Teacher Expo allows educators to gather ideas for creative classroom projects, participate in continuing education and hear from inspiring charismatic speakers.
“Our Expo and the other innovative learning initiatives of the Broward Education Foundation are meant to support teachers’ dedication and achievement with their students,” said Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie. “As a model for other school districts, the Expo has been an overwhelming success in showcasing the innovative curricula we use to educate our diverse student population.”