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Partner Teacher Conference 2019


Patterns in Nature
Saturday, January 26, 2019
9am - 3pm

You're invited! Join us on Saturday, January 26, for a free full day of collaboration, workshops, and more with fellow Nature Museum partner teachers from across Chicago.

Discover how scientists recognize patterns in nature, identify trends, and how you can make those connections in your classroom. Hear from Nature Museum scientists, partner researchers, and fellow educators as we dig into natural phenomena, Midwest ecology, and best practices in science education including the Next Generation Science Standards.

Participants will:

  • Engage with museum scientists and educators through tailored breakout sessions
  • Leave with strategies and materials to use in the classroom
  • Discover unique museum resources for in- and out-of-classroom learning
  • Learn directly from scientists about current, local, urban real world phenomena they’re studying
  • Connect with fellow educators throughout the city
  • Earn 5.5 Professional Development Clock Hours
  • Enjoy complimentary breakfast and lunch
  • Receive free admission to the Nature Museum

Whether you're a part of an extended school partnership, a one-time program, or anything in between, we are excited to invite you to join the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum for this exclusive education event. Read on to make your selection of preferred breakout sessions and to register.

Plus: Register by December 21, and receive a free Adopt-A-Butterfly for your next Nature Museum field trip.

Jump To: Keynote Address | Breakout Sessions | Partner Teacher Testimonials | Registration Information

Keynote Address

image description

Learning from Patterns in Amphibian Conservation and Restoration Efforts

Allison Sacerdote-Velat
Curator of Herpetology
Chicago Academy of Sciences / Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum (CAS/PNNM)

Explore how scientists, students, and members of the public can learn about local amphibian responses to habitat restoration by looking for patterns in data. Curator of Herpetology, Allison Sacerdote-Velat, will be your guide as she explains how patterns in amphibian community diversity and health tell us the story of the frogs and salamanders living right here in the Midwest.

Allison earned her PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Northern Illinois University, examining wetland restoration and reestablishing wood frogs, spring peepers, and spotted salamanders in Lake County, IL. Since 2016 she has led the smooth green snake and wood frog restoration programs. She also leads the Calling Frog Survey citizen science program.

Breakout Session Block 1

  • Scientist holding wood frogs

    Data Trends: Reptiles and Amphibians (1A)
    Allison Sacerdote-Velat, Curator of Herpetology, CAS/PNNM

    Join us to learn about trends in current herpetology research and about how to incorporate these ideas into your classroom! Dr. Allison Sacerdote-Velat conducts research focused on conservation and restoration of local reptiles and amphibians including the smooth green snake and wood frog.

  • Milkweed

    Plant Patterns (1B)
    Seth Harper, Manager of Horticulture, CAS/PNNM

    Explore botanical science topics and discover how to bring ideas about various types of patterns in the plant world back to your classroom! For the past 20 years, Seth Harper has been a leader in horticulture, growing everything from organic garden vegetables and native prairies to exotic greenhouse plants. During the last nine years at the Nature Museum he has transformed our indoor and outdoor spaces, managing the Museum’s outdoor grounds, restored natural areas, and the plant life in the internationally renowned Judy Istock Butterfly Haven.

  • wasp

    Insect Predators: Eat or be Eaten (1C)
    Allen Lawrance, Associate Curator of Entomology, CAS/PNNM

    It’s eat and be eaten in the insect world! Explore community ecology and how insects fit in to the larger food web with Allen Lawrance, Associate Curator of Entomology, who runs insect conservation projects, citizen science research and monitoring programs, and the use of insects in exhibits at the Nature Museum. In this session, you’ll learn about different kinds of patterns involved in insect predation, insect morphology, and more!

  • monarch butterfly

    Patterns of Insect Decline Observed in Data Collected from Citizen Science (1D)
    Doug Taron, Chief Curator, CAS/PNNM

    Explore patterns about insect population from data collected by real citizen scientists! Citizen science programs in Illinois have used defined protocols to collect data on the butterflies (since 1988) and dragonflies (since 2003) that people observe in our area. As a monitor for over 30 years, and the lead butterfly scientist at the Nature Museum, Dr. Taron will kick off an opportunity to think about what these patterns tell us about the butterflies and dragonflies we see all around us and how to explore topics related to these patterns in your classroom.

Breakout Session Block 2

  • students at desks

    Assessing NGSS in the Classroom (2A)
    Liz Lehman, UChicago STEM Education, The University of Chicago
    Brian Gane, Research Assistant Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago

    Just as the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) change how students learn science, they also change how teachers can assess their students’ science learning. Join us to consider what changes NGSS calls for to measure student learning, explore how to evaluate assessment tools, and adapt your existing practices to align with the three dimensions of NGSS.

  • bison

    Impacts of Bison Reintroduction on Grassland Bird Populations (2B)
    Heather Herakovich, Northern Illinois University

    Bison were recently reintroduced to Nachusa Grasslands in northern Illinois as part of the land management strategy. Learn from Heather Heakovich’s four years of research surveying birds before and after bison were introduced to discover how this reintroduction has impacted grassland bird populations and how to use real-world observations and data to unpack an anchoring phenomenon in your classroom.

  • student looking at specimen jar

    Collections in Your Classroom (2C)
    Dawn Roberts, Director of Collections, CAS/PNNM
    Anna Chinn, Collections Assistant, CAS/PNNM

    Explore how real objects can be used in a classroom setting to promote student curiosity and inquiry! Join us for a fresh take on the importance of collecting, object-based learning, the stories objects tell, and the intentional integration of collections into your classroom.

  • educator with students

    Communicating Climate Change (2D)
    Mark Potosnak, Professor of Environmental Science & Studies, DePaul University

    Climate change—How can we effectively teach students about this complex scientific and social problem without getting bogged down in scientific minutiae and depressing pessimism? Join us to learn about how we can convey the importance of real climate change impacts that are occurring now while maintaining a sense of hope for the future!

Breakout Session Block 3

  • educator with students

    Science: The Great Equalizer (3A)
    Education Department, CAS/PNNM

    This session will focus on democratizing science teaching by focusing on local urban nature, activity-based learning, and making connections between in and out-of-school experiences. We will explore science teaching strategies to help overcome challenges that specifically affect English Language Learners, Diverse Learners, and students who feel disconnected from nature. Collaborate with other educators on ideas for how to implement the best science teaching and learning methods to support the great diversity of your students’ needs.

  • student surrounded by plants

    Social & Emotional Growth: Nature as a Powerful Teacher (3B)
    Education Department, CAS/PNNM

    Nature is a powerful tool in supporting the social and emotional growth of students. Join us to learn about some of the research-based reasons and on-the-ground practices you can use to support heading outdoors as a best practice in education. Come away with tools to foster curiosity, excitement for learning, and growth in your students.

  • students looking at butterflies

    Cross-Curricular Connections Inspired by Nature (3C)
    Education Department, CAS/PNNM

    Biomimicry is an approach that provides solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s patterns and strategies. Join us as we use the theme of biomimicry to explore the amazing solutions nature provides as inspiration for humans and the connections between the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) topics of life science and engineering and a variety of other classroom subjects.

  • students talking to each other

    Community Building Through Science (3D)
    Education Department, CAS/PNNM

    Connections to science and nature are powerful and unifying. This session will focus on helping your students find strength in social awareness and create connections to their community. Join us to learn about resources to help promote community engagement through citizen science projects and enthusiasm for community building within your classroom.

  • teachers collaborating

    Administrator Session
    The Nature of Science Learning – Messy and Unpredictable (3E)

    Education Department, CAS/PNNM

    Learn about current and responsive strategies in education related to the nature of science. Share your experiences and collaborate with other administrators around ways to support teachers as they build a classroom culture that makes room for wonder and uncertainty in student questions, critical thinking, and student sense-making.

Partner Teacher Testimonials


Registration is now open!

The conference is free, but space is limited. Register early to ensure your spot and reserve your top picks in our breakout sessions.

Register by December 21, 2018, and you'll receive a free Adopt-A-Butterfly for your next Nature Museum field trip!

Register Now

Registration closes January 21, 2019. Registrants will receive event day details and check-in information prior to the event on January 26, 2019.

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