Professional Learning

Learning to Teach STEM: Teachers Bring Back New Knowledge to Their School

August 1, 2008

This is the second part of a three-part entry. Read part one.

In Hawaii, there will be eighty hours of training at science, technology, engineering, and math institutes during the school year. At these institutes, university professors will guide teachers in how to scale STEM projects to the appropriate grade level. The institutes will employ middle school math and science benchmarks and standards from the Hawaii Content and Performance Standards as the basis for what to cover.

The power of these institutes and the Sally Ride Science Camps is that they build awareness about the need to integrate STEM and Web 2.0 technologies in the classroom. They also reveal how important STEM is to Hawaiians if they are to act as caretakers of these sacred islands.

In fall 2008 and summer 2009, there will be an assessment survey to find out what teachers need in the way of Web 2.0 technology skill sets. This intensive phase of the program includes teacher institutes, with grant partners in attendance.

These events include a one-day fall 2008 institute on using ISS EarthKAM, a program sponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration that offers photographs taken from space; a two-day winter 2009 institute that focuses on integrating Web 2.0 tools in the classroom; a two-day spring 2009 institute in which teachers will interact with local STEM professionals in the mornings and design imaginary STEM careers in the afternoons; a five-day summer 2009 institute with hands-on geographical-information-system and global-positioning-system (GIS/GPS) mapping fieldwork; and a Sally Ride Science Camp in summer 2009 to raise awareness of STEM in Hawaii.

Teachers, working with community mentors and grant partners in the institutes and at other meetings, will explore how to apply Web 2.0 technology tools and their new STEM skills to support content in the physical, earth, and ocean sciences. In addition, teachers will learn in the summer institute how to do GIS/GPS mapping of local community heritage sites in uncharted valleys of the Wai'anae Moku.

One grant partner brings ocean-conservation activities with local scientists from the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, on Coconut Island, as well as celestial-navigation and sustainability learning opportunities with Nainoa Thompson and his sailboat, the Hokulea. Teacher-generated projects around mapping the Wai'anae Moku will be published in a public domain e-book hosted on the Kamaile Academy's Web site. Hands-on fieldwork in GIS/GPS, led each day by a kupuna, or elder -- a local Wai'anae archaeologist, a GPS/GIS expert, community mentors, or grant partners -- will provide the content for the e-book.

At Kamaile, teachers will also participate in an after-school professional-learning community as follow-up to the institutes. Teams of teachers will meet monthly to discuss and review the relevance of the current STEM topics they're teaching in the classroom. This will also be the time to identify and select new topics to integrate into their STEM hands-on projects with the aid of their mentors, university professors, and scientists. Two mentors will be available to teachers in the monthly meetings, either face-to-face or via Skype videoconferencing.

What do you think of this initiative? Please share your thoughts, and check back for the third part of this entry.

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