28 October 2014

Pathways to Prosperity - Pathways for Teachers

I had an amazing opportunity to be a part of a program this past year called Pathways for Teachers (the professional development/curriculum writing arm of a larger program called Pathways to Prosperity.) The goal of the program is to pair up gen ed teachers with business and industry to give teachers "real-world" settings and experience that they can take back to their classrooms and use to enhance the relevance of their curriculum. The program was funded last year by+Boeing, through a partnership with +Cooperating School Districts.

We spent 2 whole days in the spring touring different manufacturing and business sites talking to workers and getting a general idea of what STEM-type jobs might look like beyond engineering. (I went to Icon Mechanical in Granite City, IL, Component Bar Products in O'Fallon, MO, Boeing HQ in Hazelwood, MO, and Ameren HQ in St. Louis, MO). During the summer, we had a week-long Pathways Institute that was designed to give us a more in-depth look at ONE site we had previously visited, training in developing project-based learning units, and time to collaborate and write the units.

I spent my externship day in the summer back at Ameren HQ downtown for what I thought was going to be a day of attempting to integrate electrical theory and problem solving into my Algebra class. What I came away with was several next-day applications for statistics and graphical analysis that completely caught me by surprise. Believe me when I say, real people do stats. Excel was EVERYWHERE (as were awesome 3 monitor setups at like every desk.)

After the day at Ameren, I worked 2 1/2 days with two other teachers from my school creating a project-based learning unit integrating everything we had learned at our individual externships. Collaborating on the project was a great experience because justifying decisions to my teammates and bouncing ideas off each other to solve different problems that arose in the process made for a better project. As just a small example, in the unit, students are grouped into teams and each student is given a job with an individual rubric. Giving specific tasks to kids in groups was not something I'd ever tried to tackle on my own, but we became our own support system. Its always harder to back down from makig innovative (hard) changes when you're got a buddy in the trenches with you.

Today I have the opportunity to share my experience with the this year's round of teachers - here are my slides.

Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

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Thanks for sharing!