2006 Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching
Each year the President of the U.S. recognizes outstanding K-12 science
and math teachers throughout the country. One math and one science
educator is chosen from each state who exemplifies deep content
knowledge combined with the ability to motivate students in science and
Elizabeth Lewis finds that her students enjoy Create Your Own National Park, a year-long unit where they learn about the National Park system: How it operates, why it exists, and what it protects. Afterward, they write a proposal for a new National Park, which includes an informational brochure, a model of the park, a park map, and an oral presentation that is given on National Park Day. “This unit has inspired many students to visit National Parks, care more about their environment, and feel empowered that they can make positive changes on our planet,” said Lewis. She teaches her students that to be successful, they sometimes have to take risks, ask questions, make mistakes, fail, and revisit their learning process so they can learn from those experiences.
Year after year, I revise and rewrite units to improve my lessons. Usually, I pick one main area on which to focus each year. For example, one year I focused on searching for better ways to teach mathematics at a higher level. Another year, it was adding more differentiated projects into each subject so that my students had more opportunities to tap into their learning strengths. Teachers have a lot to accomplish in a short time and what benefits my students most is focusing on one area of improvement in great detail.