STANYS President's Letter: Shelly Hinchliffe
Welcome Letter 2021 Conference Booklet
It is with much joy and anticipation that I welcome you to the 126th Annual Science Teacher Association of New York State Conference. And what a welcome it will be! Once again, we are able to come together, live and in-person, to spend time with friends, colleagues, and new acquaintances. After a year of educational loneliness, we are ready for great conversations with peers, participating in innovative professional development sessions, and taking inspiration from respected educators. Perhaps we are like the butterfly emerging from its chrysalis. After a time of isolation, we will gain strength from our struggle as we emerge ready to spread our wings. Just as the butterfly’s journey is about transformation, so too can be your membership in the STANYS organization. I hope you immerse yourself in all that this conference has to offer.
Over the next few days, you might notice that the conference theme is Sharing the Stories of Science. While we all have a few stories about our past year, the stories I hope we share are the ones written by our students through instructional storylines. In storylining, students work through a series of cohesive lessons, driven by their own questions, that entwine the CCCs and SEPs as students try to make sense of a given phenomena. Unfortunately, the implementation of NYS P-12 Science Learning Standards in many districts may have been delayed due to remote or hybrid schedules. Despite potential setbacks, we must re-invigorate ourselves to phenomena based teaching and learning by aligning our instruction to the NYS P-12 Science Learning Standards. Revised in April 2021, NYSED released its timeline for the Development, Adoption, and Implementation of the NYS P-12 SLS. This timeline indicates that June 2024 will see the first administration of the new elementary grade 5 and intermediate grade 8 science tests. While 2023 is a transitional year in assessment, the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 school years will play a critical role in addressing instruction gaps and/or pauses created by the prioritization of learning standards due to the pandemic. How do we address these gaps or pauses in order to ready our students for the NYS P-12 SLS based exams starting in 2023? One strategy could be the use of storylines. Building upon the questions asked by our students while observing a phenomena, instructors will have a sense of a student's “KWL'' status. While designing a coherent series of lessons, teachers can take the opportunity to include the content gaps necessary for student sensemaking. To help support the idea of instructional storylines, STANYS and New Visions for Public Schools partnered for a pre-conference professional learning event on Friday, Nov. 5th. Ms. Dora Kastel and her associates shared strategies to implement storylines anchored in Earth Science and Biology content. If you were unable to attend the Friday workshop, Ms. Kastel will offer the Keynote address on storylining during our Saturday evening membership meeting.
Sharing the Stories of Science was also the focus of the summer professional learning opportunity. Held virtually, Dr. Jason Crean and his associates from All Species Education, worked with STANYS members, DALs and SARs on the implementation of instructional storylines. Many of the DALS and SARs are offering storyline sessions during the conference and are excited to share their experiences with you. Overall, it should be a wonderful and fitting theme. Together, we will be ready to write storylining into the next chapter in our educational careers.
As you may be aware by now, our 126th Annual Conference has been shortened by one day. Decisions in regards to this conference needed to be made during the Spring of 2021. Based upon the protocols in place at that time, the executive committee and conference planning committee took a more conservative approach to the 2021 conference to ensure the health and safety of our membership while retaining fiduciary responsibility to the Board of Directors. This conference will likely look a bit different than we are used to seeing. Rest assured, this conference will still provide the high-quality professional learning experiences our members expect and deserve.
But not to worry, many favorites are still happening! Science Trivia opens the conference on Friday evening. The Hall of Sections will feature the “most creative Section t-shirt design” contest, and the geeky t-shirt competition will still take place. Our Excellence in Teaching Award winners, newest Fellows and PAEMST winners will be celebrated. The wine and cheese reception, visits to the vendor hall and “the raffle” are conference traditions. New this year, Casino night! Sunday morning, the executive committee hopes you will join us for light refreshments during the President's reception. But most importantly, innovative and relevant professional development will be shared over the next two days. To support ALL students to participate in and learn science, you “must be present to win.” I hope you find this year’s conference transformational in your commitment to promote excellence in science education.
In closing, I thank you for attending the 126th Annual Conference and I wish you a wonderful conference adventure. Please connect and reconnect with the amazing educators attending this event and Share your Stories of Science with one another!