Conference Sessions

KSTA is proud to offer a variety of outstanding workshops and featured sessions.

All sessions will be held at the University of Louisville Event and Conference Center at Shelby Campus. Schedule is subject to change.

SESSION 2 - Friday, November 3 - 10:10AM - 11:10AM

Amplify Presents: Inspiring All Learners in STEM: Strategies for Teaching Diverse Learners and Neurodiverse Students

Students with learning differences can bring unique perspectives and skill sets to the classroom, which can help create a more well-rounded educational experience for all. This session will provide teachers and administrators with best practices to teach STEM topics to diverse learners and neurodiverse students effectively. Through interactive activities, participants will gain an understanding of creating learning environments that are inclusive of all types of learners while also exploring tools for overcoming potential challenges. The goal is for educators to leave this session feeling confident in their ability to support these uniquely gifted learners in achieving success with STEM. The primary focus of the session will be grades K-8, however, all are welcome.

Speakers: Damon Smerchek

Grades: K-8

InnerOrbit Presents: Scaffolding Students towards three-dimensional assessments and sense making

How can we check how students are progressing towards sensemaking? In this session, explore recommendations for scaffolding sensemaking with 3-Dimensional and 2-Dimensional questioning. Educators will experience a small group analysis, take-home resources, and Q&A!

Speakers: Erin Cooke

Grades: K-12

Kentucky Department of Education Presents: Getting to Know the Revised Kentucky Academic Standards for Science

The Kentucky Academic Standards (KAS) for Science recently went through the revision process and were adopted by the Kentucky Board of Education in December 2022. During this session, participants will examine some of the changes to build a better understanding of the KAS for Science. Outside of revisions to the science standards themselves, some of the major changes you’ll note are with the architecture of the document and inclusion of various components to support stakeholders. As we examine these new components, we will consider how they may support teachers and create new opportunities to engage other stakeholders. Participants will also receive a hard copy of the Kentucky Academic Standards for Science At A Glance document noting grade level shifts.

Speakers: Erica Baker & Amanda Prewitt

Grades: K-12

STEM Careers:  for everyone, everywhere!

In the coming decades, STEM-related careers continue to be projected as some of the most widely available, as well as the most diverse and highly paid, job opportunities in the United States. Middle and high school students often have limited perspectives about what options are available to them related to STEM careers. They do not realize that a wide variety of jobs include aspects of science, technology, engineering and math and that developing STEM skills can help them pursue such job options. Unfortunately, they often lack the real-world problem solving, critical thinking, and communication and collaboration skills that STEM occupations require. STEM challenges provide students with project-based, open-ended, iterative learning experiences that expand career pathway interests and engage and develop their understanding of various science and engineering practices. Students are presented with a problem and challenged to design, create, and test and retest their own model and prototype solutions. In this session, we will share our approach to the STEM challenge by sharing how we find ideas, what components are included, how we work with our teacher partners, and how students respond to the experience. We will share outlines, step-by-step instructions, and other resources.

Speakers: Susan Beatty & Susan Barton, West Kentucky Educational Cooperative

Grades: 6-12

The Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science Presents: Evolution for Middle School Educators

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. TIES provides science teachers with innovative professional development opportunities, often in collaboration with biology professors and scientists researching current evolutionary trends. TIES also has ready-to-use online resources for the classroom, including presentation slides, labs, guided reading assignments, and an exam. We connect science teachers with the experts in the field of evolutionary biology, both in person and online. Our staff provides teachers with an e-mail helpline if they have questions or are looking for specific lessons. Visit our website at Our presentation will guide teachers through our website, allow them to try out the best online activities on evolutionary science available, and send them home with many hands-on activities that are aligned with the Kentucky Academic Standards.

Speakers: Sephali Thakkar

Grades: 6-8

A Instructional Tool to Help K-8 Teachers to Identify Anchoring Phenomena for Phenomenon-based Science Instruction (1.5 Hour Extended Session)

The current Kentucky Academic Standards for Science highlight investigating phenomena as one of the key components of equitable science education in Kentucky science classrooms. This 1.5- hour interactive workshop introduces an instructional tool that helps K-8 science teachers identify an appropriate phenomenon that will enable the teacher to plan and implement three- dimensional science instruction. This tool invites teachers to consider three questions: 1) What is a phenomenon? 2) What is an anchoring phenomenon? And 3) Is the phenomenon relevant to students? Participants will have opportunities to share their challenges in identifying anchoring phenomena, use the phenomenon tool to evaluate a range of phenomena and non-phenomena, and discuss some common issues in identifying and using anchoring phenomena. In addition to teachers, we invite elementary and middle school instructional coaches, instructional specialists, and other science PD providers to experience this useful science instructional tool and share it with more science teachers.

Speakers: Lin Xiang, Kristin Cook, Caitlin Ousley, & Stephanie Harmon

Grades: K-8

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