A site about our home, doing it yourself, science in schools, and the ramblings of a girl who appreciates a joy in her life.

Thursday, October 15

Summer Happenings-Why Professional Development Matters

Ok, so I know its October, but school started and hit me like a Mac truck. It has taken me a while to get caught up. :)

So, Whew what a summer we had. We traveled, we napped, we experienced nature, and we learned science. I had the opportunity to go to a couple of different professional developments. What struck me was how much importance we place on the educational language in teacher training and the  lack of content. I was super lucky to find some great development that focused on content knowledge for teachers. But, how do we change what professional development looks like? Why is this important? What should teacher professional development look like?

For me, the answer to why teaching content is important is found by comparing two of the training's I did this summer. In July, I got to travel Milwaukee Wisconsin, to attend a biology training given by the Center of Biomolecular Modeling at the Milwaukee School of Engineering. It. Was. Amazing. We spent a week learning hands-on modeling,speaking with top researchers, and learning content. Sometimes it was over my head, sometimes I knew it all, but it pushed me to learn and grow as a teachers.
One of our fabulous leaders giving us some quick info before we model it

So at CBM, they give you instruction on the concepts and then help you model it. You lead yourself in the teaching and then share that knowledge with your co-teachers. They brought in the leading researchers to let us know the most up-to-date information. As teachers, to be respected and treated as a peer of these researchers was such a different experience from the normal PD where someone in the front tells you how to fix your classroom. I think teachers need professional development where we are trusted to teach and given the deep content knowledge to help extend our students knowledge. 

Mapping out the neuron
One of the great activities we did was to connect our prior knowledge to help each other understand how neurons work. Each table was given a large sheet of butcher paper and asked to write out how we each individually thought neurons worked. Then we worked together as a group to correct misconceptions or share what we all did not know. We were given a little bit of content knowledge and then some modeling tools to actually map out a neuron. It was amazing and allowed us to really understand the process. 

A community of learners and now connected professionals
We ended the week with a community of professionals that we could turn to during the year to ask questions, support each other, or just remind each other that we are knowledge seekers and professionals in our field. We all keep in touch with an email system that is a wonderful reminder of the week an our content knowledge.

Hey, if you want to know more about CBM, head over to http://cbm.msoe.edu/ to learn more. :)

Now let me tell you about the other professional development I took this summer; I was offered a great opportunity to learn about systems thinking and how to integrate it into our classrooms. I was excited to learn more about how to teach a great idea. However, it quickly became a big lecture on what to do better. We did some great hands-on activities, but we listened to a lot of talking. I can't remember a single thing from it. Sorry, I tried. I took good notes I thought, but not a thing to do in my class. However, ask me about my CBM training. Let me tell you about my knowledge on membranes and how drugs work. Let me tell you about the stories I learned to tell my students about. Let me tell you about how drugs affect your brain. I could go on. 

To be truthful, I think I rambled on a bit in this, but I think its a big problem of our education system in how we train and respect teachers. We need teachers to know more about the content then what we even tell the kids. It allows us to see the bigger picture The more knowledge that you have, the better you can see the bigger picture. So as teachers, we need to ask for PD that gives us content and does not just lecture at us. We need to support and spread the word about the good PD so other teachers can do it too. So here is the list of great some free professional development I know about. I hope that it has some good resources to help you!

Advanced Biology and modeling: http://cbm.msoe.edu/

Elementary Oceans info: http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/okeanos/edu/collection/hdwe.html

Free Graduate Level ocean/atmosphere/climate change classes: https://www2.ametsoc.org/ams/index.cfm/education-careers/education-program/k-12-teachers/

Soil Science: https://www.nutrientsforlife.org/