Four times a year, the DePaul University STEM Center offers a free, day-long science professional development session for K-5 CPS teachers. For the first two academic quarters of 2013-14, these sessions drew on average just under 200 Chicago educators. The 3rd quarter session held on Saturday, January 25th, showed little attendance attenuation in anticipation of the looming polar vortex. 167 teachers participated in one of eight sessions led by Delta Education and Carolina certified instructors. Such willingness to brave the elements and sacrifice a Saturday to pedagogical improvement demonstrates admirable commitment to Chicago students.
The effectiveness of these sessions is visible in the enthusiasm of the participants. Teachers assume the role of student for a day, refine their classroom strategies, and work closely with a community of peers. The latter is particularly important for the establishment of relationships between new and veteran teachers. The professional networks created during these sessions facilitate the improvement of educational techniques through peer exchange, as well as the development of new practices through high-level collaboration. By attending multiple quarters of training, returning participants further strengthen these relationships.
These sessions train teachers in instructional methods closely aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards. The kits emphasize hands-on inquiry that involves students in the practice of science. In effect, PD participants refine classroom techniques structured around scientific inquiry, rather than secondhand engagement with ideas disconnected from the outside world. For example, during the 3rd quarter 4th grade STC lessons, students use sand, humus, gravel, and clay to create stream tables. By doing so, they observe firsthand how water affects the shape of the land, and the shape of the land’s reciprocal effect on water flow.*
Registration for the March 22nd PD for 4th quarter kits will open on Monday, February 3rd. We will offer instruction for the following kits: Grade 1: Organisms (STC); Grade 2: Insects (FOSS); Grade 3: Structures of Life (FOSS) or Grade 3: Sun, Moon, and Stars (FOSS); Grade 4: Human Body (FOSS); Grade 5: Solar Energy (FOSS). The DePaul University STEM Center continues to insist that there is such thing as a free lunch, unless you fail to respond to the registration confirmation email.
Registration instructions and additional information may be found at:
-Max Barry, K-5 Science PD Program Coordinator, DePaul University STEM Center.