Quiet of Summer Belies STEM Professional Development Panoply

Children learning ramps and pathways
Youth take part in Ramps and Pathways."...teachers learn how integrative STEM is a natural fit for preschoolers, kindergarteners and first and second graders," said Beth Van Meeteren, co-director of the Regents' Center for Early Development Education at t

In the heart of the dog days of summer, thousands of Iowa teachers are gearing up to bring top-drawer STEM education to their students this fall. The 2017-18 Scale-Up programmers have fanned out across the state to equip and train in-school and out-of-school teachers in the latest and greatest STEM learning platforms. Seventy-eight different workshops across Iowa's six STEM regions spanning July and August (and into the fall) will prepare nearly 2,000 new members of Iowa's STEM community to spark the imaginations of youth. For one exceptionally popular new scale-up program, Ramps and Pathways, over 300 teachers will enjoy two immersion sessions for implementing the model. The R & P workshops consist of firmly anchoring teachers' practices to cognitive learning theory, where youngsters are active, independent, curious and creative. The professional development is demonstrably active and hands-on, as educators explore the very physics and engineering principals that will be asked of their students.

Another potent professional development sequence is the two-day Power Teaching Math (PTM) immersion in August. PTM teaches students essential STEM skills, such as to think critically and problem solve, communicate efficiently and collaborate effectively with their peers. Valerie Sitzman, mathematics teacher at KingsleyPierson Middle School in Pierson, reflected on her classroom group work previously as "very shallow" compared to post-PTM training. Now implementing PTM, she finds that "Walking around the classroom, I often had tears in my eyes listening to students talk about math." They share strategies for solving problems with their peers and are excited about showing the rest of the class their solution to a problem. And she's seen grades rise. "I had B and even C students getting A's in math" even while she considers "...the PTM curriculum to be more rigorous than my previous curriculum." In fact, Valerie ranks her PTM training right up there: "The PTM curriculum and the cooperative learning framework professional development training ...and the network/professional relationships I have built with other Scale-Up Award recipients after receiving the STEM Scale-Up Award have been the most beneficial in my 24-year teaching career."

Don't let the quiet summer fool you - a swarm of energized educators will emerge this fall to carry Iowa's STEM mission of increased interest and ability forward to tens of thousands of young learners, thanks to STEM Scale-Up Programming professional development.

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