Where Can I Find Inspiration for New Lesson Plans?


NSTA member Todd Hoover, who now teaches preservice science teachers, began his career as an elementary and middle-level science teacher. When starting out, he didn’t know about NSTA. “One of my biggest regrets is that I didn’t become a member sooner,” he says. “I wish that I had joined NSTA when I was teaching K–12 because I missed out on a world of good ideas that I could have used in the classroom.” Hoover says that for busy teachers, NSTA provides a wealth of ideas that educators “can take and almost immediately use in the classroom with students.”

Hoover: I find it extremely important that I share information about NSTA with every one of my preservice teachers because I don’t want them to start their careers and not know about the association. When teachers have a resource that is readily available to them, particularly at their fingertips like the NSTA Learning Center, they save a lot of valuable time in planning and preparation.

NSTA provides a number of resources that range from how to write a grant to content knowledge support. There’s an endless amount of topics to choose from when you go to an NSTA Conference or when you’re using the Learning Center. I find that for me, personally, the part that is most beneficial are the lesson ideas that I can take and use right away.

Every NSTA Conference I attend, both regional and national, is filled with practical, real-world, hands-on, and effective ideas. I use those ideas in my college classrooms, and I teach my preservice students those same ideas so they can implement them in the K–12 system.

During one of the most recent conferences I attended, for example, I went to a session where the presenter showed educational science games that can be used in the classroom. He must have presented 30 or more games in just that one-hour time. I found practically every one of the games to be useful and have shared the games with my preservice teachers so that they can use them in their classrooms.

When I go to the NSTA Conferences, I also find that I leave there with ideas that are able to be implemented in the classroom at little or no cost. All teachers are trying to find ways to do good teaching without breaking the bank.

How else has your NSTA membership helped you in your career?

Hoover: I have served on committees such as the Science and Children Advisory Board and the planning committee for the 2015 NSTA area conference in Philadelphia. The networking opportunities have been huge. I have also gotten involved with NSTA’s state chapter here in Pennsylvania and in two years I’ll be serving as the chapter’s president. Through all of these different connections, I’ve been able to improve my own professional development. I get to network with some of the best science educators in the nation now. There are good ideas that come from that.

 (Note from NSTA: How has NSTA helped you save time on lesson planning? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below. Not a member of NSTA? Learn more about how to join.)

Jennifer Henderson is our guest blogger for this series. Before launching her freelance career as a writer/editor, Jennifer was Managing Editor of The Science Teacher, NSTA’s peer-reviewed journal for high school science teachers.

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