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TIES Weekly Update - March 21, 2017


Bertha Vazquez

March 22, 2017

The Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science (TIES) stresses the importance of promoting teacher leadership in the United States. Here at TIES we feel that our fellow teachers are our own best resources. We are looking for high school and college biology educators who are interested in presenting our TIES workshops to middle school science teachers in their state. Our reasoning is that a middle school science teacher will typically cover many areas of science within his/her annual curriculum, including earth science, physical science, and life science. It is virtually impossible to become an expert in all of these areas, at least not initially. The purpose of TIES is to inform interested middle school science teachers about the most up-to-date concepts of natural selection, common ancestry, and diversity in order for them to confidently cover the topics in their classrooms and fulfill their curriculum requirements. In addition to providing science teachers with innovative professional development opportunities, TIES also has ready-to-use online resources for the classroom, including presentation slides, labs, guided reading assignments, and an exam.

  1. Two TIES workshops took place last week, one at the Wisconsin State Science Teacher Conference and another at a middle school in Miami, Fl.
    • After a successful first workshop, the Wisconsin presenter is excited to do more. I just received this e-mail from one of her teacher participants:
      “Good Evening, I just attended a session at a conference that was very engaging on Evolution and Natural Selection. I was looking at your links and would love a copy of your middle school exam on evolution. Thanks for your time.”
      Mary Witt, 7th Grade Science Teacher”

      I’m very pleased teachers are getting acquainted with our resources!
    • The Miami workshop was a district-level 3-hour workshop. Conferences are a wonderful place to get the word out about TIES. However, I want to work on getting more district-level workshops. Teachers who go to their state and regional conference are ahead of the curve, they are excited about teaching and always looking for ways to improve their instruction. At local workshops, you find the sleepy and bored teachers who are forced to “endure” yet another district-imposed professional development. This was the case in Miami. I don’t blame them; they had just taught a full day of classes. By the second hour, however, they were totally engaged. I wish I would have videotaped them trying out our signature activity, This Lab is for the Birds. I created this lab based on the famous work of Peter and Rosemary Grant of Galapagos fame. The teachers were laughing and carrying on much like students.
      Here is the e-mail I received the next day:
      “Thank you so much for your time yesterday. We had a great time     during the activities and had the opportunity to learn many new things. Thank you for all the resources, ideas and great lab.
      Thank you again. We appreciated it and enjoyed it.”
      Desiree Rodriguez, West Miami Middle, Science Department Chair
  2. I sent out an e-mail to all our presenters about my goal of getting more local workshops on our TIES calendar. It prompted a TIES Teacher Corps Members in North Carolina, Kathryn Green, to finalize her district workshop. This will be her third local TIES workshop in addition to co-presenting for us at the North Carolina State Science Teacher Conference last year. She has 15 teachers signed up so far.
    • March 30, 2017: Friday Institute, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC presented by Kathryn Green
  3. We have three workshops scheduled for this week: North Dakota, Michigan, and Rhode Island. It’s been a busy week going back and forth to make sure these TIES Teacher Corps Members are comfortable with our materials. These are all first-time, local presenters.
  4. And, the Miami event looks official!

Bertha Vazquez

Bertha Vazquez's photo

Bertha Vazquez has been teaching middle school science in Miami-Dade County Public Schools for 24 years. She has BA in Biology from the University of Miami and a Master’s in Science Education from Florida International University. A seasoned traveler who has visited all seven continents, she enjoys introducing the world of nature and science to young, eager minds. An educator with National Board Certification, she is the recipient of several national and local honors, including the 2014 Samsung’s $150,000 Solve For Tomorrow Contest and The Charles C. Bartlett National Excellence in Environmental Award in 2009. She was Miami-Dade Science Teacher of the Year in 1997 and 2008 and was one of Florida’s 2015 finalists for the most prestigious science award in the country, The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.