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East County Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2009 13 years ago

Teacher returns from ExxonMobil Academy

by: Pam McTeer

BRADEN WOODS — As Sue Curry watched the opening ceremonies for last year’s summer Olympics in Beijing, the importance of integrating science and math at the elementary school level became profoundly clear.

“I was amazed and enthralled (watching it),” said Curry, a fourth-grade teacher at Braden River Elementary School. “It really made me pause and think: ‘This (kind of ingenuity) is our kids competition. What can I do to teach math and science better?’”

As she watched the ceremonies, she saw a commercial for ExxonMobil. On her laptop, Curry surfed to the company’s Web site and discovered information for the Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy, its science and math training program.

Last month, Curry traveled to Jersey City, N.J., as one of 12 teachers in Florida accepted into the program, which took place July 19-24. Curry joined teachers from every state at the Liberty Science Center, where they learned ExxonMobil’s Five-E model of teaching, which encourages teachers to engage, explore, explain, extend and evaluate.

“It made me aware that I need to look at the process,” Curry said, noting students need to have enough information before they start asking questions. “I need to be mindful and make sure I give them time to

Curry plans to implement the science notebook concept she learned at the academy to help track student learning. The concept requires students to keep a composition notebook with graph paper that is dedicated to science. There, students will chart graphs, record thoughts and attempt to prove whatever scientific claims they make.

“It’s the evidence of their thinking,” Curry said. “We learn things in class, but how are they applying it in the real world?”

Curry said the notebook will help her assess student learning and also will be a resource for parents who want to know what’s going on in the classroom.

She plans to share that and other concepts she learned at the academy with some of her fellow teachers.

As part of Mickelson’s academy, Curry now must continue her training through online study, which will include online discussions with teachers from her training and other assignments throughout the year. When finished, she will have earned three graduate credits for her efforts.

“It was very exciting and very practical,” Curry said of the experience. “I’m just really excited for how it’s going to benefit my students. If I get enthusiastic about stuff, I think it’s going to rub off on my kids.”

For information about the Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy, visit The application deadline for the next academy is Oct. 31.

Contact Pam McTeer at [email protected].

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