Mr. Evans and Mr. Polakoff have never met, but their paths are sure to cross this summer at the Siemens STEM Institute. The two Montgomery County educators were among only 50 nationwide selected for the fellowship, which aims "to bring teachers to the cutting edge of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education."
In August, they will attend a weeklong all-expenses-paid workshop to exchange ideas with other educators, leading scientists and technology innovators in Washington, D.C.
By all accounts, these two teachers are already at the cutting edge.
Craig Polakoff teaches in the technology-education program at Upper Moreland High School, where students can take classes geared toward robotics, architecture, engineering, manufacturing, graphic design and video production.
Joel Evans, who teaches calculus, AP statistics and other math courses at Hatboro-Horsham Senior High School, uses a "Flipped Classroom" method in which students watch videotaped lessons at home, and then do their homework or work on group problems in class. He has a website where he posts video lessons, weekly assignments and extra credit problem, and he even uses Twitter to communicate with students.
This is the first year Evans has used the "Flipped Classroom," so results are difficult to quantify. But he says the students "like having the ability to take notes at their own pace and then being able to ask questions the next day during class."
Evans hopes the conference will offer a chance to interact with other "Flipped Classroom" educators. "This week in August will be a fantastic opportunity to energize and recharge my teaching," he said.