CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Bill Burton (MSIS ’11), science teacher and science curriculum coordinator at the Lamplighter School in Dallas, TX and alumnus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Information and Library Science (SILS), has recently earned honors for which he will be recognized in the upcoming months. In addition to having multiple articles accepted and one published in the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Journal Science and Children, Burton will next month be honored with an NSTA Vernier Technology Award.
“The Vernier Technology Awards will recognize and reward the innovative use of data collection technology using a computer, graphing calculator or other handheld in the science classroom.”
Burton is the sole recipient of the award at the elementary level. The award consists of $1,500 towards expenses to attend the 2014 NSTA National Conference in Boston in April, $1,000 in cash and $3,000 in Vernier products. The basis of Burton’s award application was an article he published in Science and Children in October 2012 titled “Experiencing Friction in First Grade.”
In addition to this article, which he had presented at the 2013 NSTA Conference in San Antonio, TX, two of Burton’s other manuscripts have been accepted for publication in future issues of Science and Children.
“One article, called ‘The Future of Farming,’ discusses the thematic, integrated, project-based unit where students grew plants hydroponically in our school’s greenhouse,” said Burton. “They used the resulting cucumbers to make pickles in connection with their pioneer unit of study."
“Another article is a STEM article that uses Carol Dweck’s mindset theory as an argument for building resiliency in project-based lessons. More specifically, the fourth grade classes participated in an engineering design challenge where they designed, built and programmed Lego Mindstorms vehicles that could traverse a suspended rope and retrieve an object (think robotic gondola). The title of that article is ‘The Tightrope Challenge.’”
Although Burton began his studies at SILS with prior knowledge of project-based learning from his experience as a teacher, he feels that he learned a great deal about how to conceptualize and apply progressive teaching practices from his time at SILS, particularly from courses taught by Dr. Sandra Hughes-Hassell, professor and coordinator of the School Library Media Program at SILS.
“Bill is a master teacher who challenges and refines his practice on a regular basis,” said Dr. Hughes-Hassell. “He is skilled at translating theory into practice, understanding learners - their needs and abilities - and employing instructional strategies that not only engage students, but lead to deep understanding. We need more teachers like Bill. This award recognizes his innovative strengths and abilities in a very public way.”
Next month, Burton and his co-presenters are on the agenda at the Association of Independent School Librarians Conference to speak about an educational partnership their elementary school has with the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.