South Barre, VT
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
Valerie Collins’ students enjoy her insect unit because they get to create a temporary habitat for insects. “Students love to study the different insects by classifying them, identifying their survival needs, and watching their adaptation,” said Collins. In addition to hands-on activities, she also uses class discussion to move students along in their understanding of concepts and to make them feel comfortable sharing ideas in the classroom.
One way I ensure that all students access knowledge and learn new skills is by recognizing how children differ as learners, and by varying my teaching to tap into each student’s strengths. Children are encouraged to show their understanding in a variety of ways, such as drawing diagrams and describing ideas orally. I plan activities that are inquiry-based and am always fine-tuning my teaching and adopting different approaches to better ensure that my students understand the big-concept ideas and acquire targeted skills.