Teachers study methods to integrate math, science, engineering and technology
Posted August 28, 2012
Three teachers at The Webb School attended an Understanding and Connecting Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (UC STEM) Conference at Middle Tennessee State University, returning with new strategies to integrate the four disciplines.
Lea Anne Windham, math department chair and middle school teacher; and Jeff Mitchell and A.J. Swafford, middle school math and science teachers, respectively, took advantage of the professional development opportunity. They shared information with their colleagues during a faculty meeting before 2012-13 classes began.
“This workshop is funded by a federal program to increase connections between math and science teachers and help us increase students’ knowledge of STEM practices and learning,” said Windham.
Windham said she looked forward to learning how to make the math topics she teaches connect more with the middle school science curriculum. “Many times our students need particular math skills to apply their science knowledge, but A.J. and I haven't had the time or structure to put the two together. This allowed us to work together, and now we have a plan to integrate some of our teaching, do some team teaching and collaborate to implement what we have learned.”
Swafford said he benefitted most from the technology that was showcased, the inquiry-based approach to learning that was discussed and figuring out what real problem solving looks like. “We are trying to stay ahead and use the latest technology for our students and make sure they are becoming critical thinkers, not just learning facts to score on a test,” Swafford said.
Mitchell noted that when he attends any class or conference he is interested to hear from other professionals strategies that work in a classroom and also things to avoid. “There are things to learn from each professional development opportunity,” he said.
“UC STEM taught me new math assessment strategies as well as science, engineering, and technology concepts,” said Mitchell. “I also learned a tremendous amount about questioning strategies designed to have your students discover their learning rather than just repeating what the teacher demonstrated.”
“It was very helpful and beneficial to me as a teacher, but more importantly, the students will benefit from the collaboration of our two departments,” said Windham.
Windham, a graduate of Mississippi State University, received a master’s in education at University of Georgia. She is teaching Math 6 and Pre-Algebra 7 Honors this year. She is in her 28th year teaching, 19th at Webb.
Mitchell, a graduate of Hanover College, is in his 13th year of teaching, 7th at Webb. He is teaching Math 7, Pre-Algebra 8, Algebra I and Honors Algebra I.
The 2012-13 school year is Swafford’s 8th at Webb. He graduated from Tennessee Technological University and is teaching 6th and 8th grade science (Earth and Physical).