Adjunct Instructor Michael Novak Wins Golden Apple Award

Adjunct Instructor Michael Novak Wins Golden Apple Award

Michael Novak award

Michael Novak, a middle school teacher and adjunct instructor for the School of Education and Social Policy, is one of 10 Chicago-area teachers to win the 2014 Golden Apple Award for Teaching Excellence. Novak teaches eighth-grade mathematics and science at Park View School in Morton Grove and has been a member of the SESP community since 2004.

Golden Apple selected the 10 winners from more than 620 nominees representing fourth- through eighth-grade teachers throughout the Chicago metropolitan area. Since 1986, Golden Apple has recognized outstanding teachers.

This past fall Novak co-taught the Science Methods class in SESP’s Master of Science in Education program. He also collaborates with professor Brian Reiser in the Learning Sciences program on research projects to improve science education, and with Reiser he co-teaches a learning sciences course, LS436, as well as a summer course for practicing teachers.

Novak first joined SESP as a consultant with the Center for Connected Learning, directed by professor Uri Wilensky, to help design instructional materials and pursue research on computer modeling for chemistry learning. He developed materials for several computer modeling projects for science learning by working part-time for CCL.

Before becoming a middle school teacher, Novak spent years in other professions. He holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois. After working for several years as an engineer and teaching at the college level, he returned to school to acquire credentials for middle school teaching.

Michael Novak

“As I taught, I found myself doing lots of instructional design work for my classes. And as I did this, I realized that while some of the design principles that applied to engineering also applied to instructional materials design, designing effective instructional materials also drew on design principles from the learning science,” says Novak. “I piloted some innovative instructional materials (such as the Connected Mathematics Project), tried to design things similar to this for science, and came to the realization of the critical impact that well-designed materials have a major impact on student learning. This led me to look for opportunities to do work that involved instructional materials design, professional development, and education reform.”

Each Golden Apple Award winner receives a tuition-free, spring quarter sabbatical to study at Northwestern University. Each recipient also receives a $3,000 cash award and becomes a lifetime member of the Golden Apple Academy of Educators, which develops programs for teacher effectiveness.

The Golden Apple Awards are broadcast annually on Chicago public television station WTTW11. The annual awards ceremony this year is October 24.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 5/10/14