Archive for the ‘Teacher Training Workshops’ Category


I love when I get the opportunity to provide science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) training to educators for more than a one-day session. With a three-day plus training session you can begin to dig deeper into STEM practices and content aside from just scratching the surface with one day sessions. Even better, is when the client has scheduled on-going, sustainable training to take place in the near future as a follow-up and extension of the initial training. This type of professional staff development will provide teachers with a strong foundation to be able to visualize the actual implementation of highly effective STEM practices as well as gaining deeper knowledge of the STEM content.

I recently conducted a three-day STEM teacher training institute for Kansas teachers. The group consisted of grades 3-8 which is a workable mix of grade levels. The group experience with incorporating STEM practices and content ranged from advanced to very little experience. Within the three day institute teachers were observing as well as modeling inquiry based teaching practices. Conducting STEM investigations that incorporated 21st century skills including: critical thinking and problem-solving, creativity and innovation, communication and collaboration.

Every STEM investigation teachers undertook provided them with the opportunity to practice inquiry and incorporate 21st century skills. A major focus was placed on designing opportunities for students to incorporate science and engineering practices including the Engineering Design Process.

Additionally, teachers were introduced to the use of reflective journaling in STEM classrooms which is aligned to the learning goals of NGSS. Throughout the three days of training the following STEM content and investigations were undertaken by the teachers:

  • Engineering Design Process Challenges
  • Incorporating affordable and meaningful technology
  • Polymer Science
  • Connecting Math and Architectural Principles
  • Biomimicry
  • Solar Energy
  • Electricity (including littleBits and Squishy Circuits)
  • Reverse Engineering
  • Force, Motion and Energy Concepts

Throughout the three-day institute I observed and heard many remarks from the teachers as they began to truly understand how incorporating STEM practices and investigations is so much more than “hands-on-science”. Designing a classroom and STEM experiences that will provide the students to be the “thinkers and doers”, to develop and strengthen their 21st century skills, and apply what they have practiced and learned to the “real-world” is what we should be striving for within all of our classrooms.

I gave the teachers plenty of time to reflect on the investigations we undertook throughout the three-days, as well as having the teachers discuss the actual implementation of what they had undertaken during the training within their own classroom. It’s essential in professional staff development that the presenter provide time for the participants to reflect and discuss otherwise it’s just another training that goes by the wayside.

I’m looking forward to hearing from the participants and the administrators of how their classrooms will transform throughout the rest of the year, next year and beyond. The following photos are a sampling of the STEM investigations undertaken during the three day institute. For more information about the STEM, STEAM, NGSS teacher training and keynotes Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowski conducts year-round, worldwide contact her via the contact page found on this site.

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Had the pleasure of being part of the Early Learning Coalition of Sarasota 2017 Conference in January. I presented two 1.5 hour STEM-based sessions. Early STEM Education Consultant Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowskichildhood teachers were introduced to STEM practices and content via conducting hands-on-minds-on, inquiry-based explorations.

There was plenty of room to explore, build, and move about with the workshops being held in the cafeteria. Ramps made out of insulation tubing, wood corner molding, upholstery tubing, string and tape were built from one end of the cafeteria to the other.

During the 1.5 hour session early childhood teachers were introduced to incorporating journaling in the early childhood classroom. I stressed the need to avoid the “typical” handouts of cut outs, tracing, and pasting. Instead, provide opportunities for children to do their own scribbling, attach specimens within their journals, and more. This journal is meaningful to the student, and is all about student-ownership.

Teachers had the opportunity to use recyclable and readily available materials to build 3-D structures of their choice. Working in small groups mini-playgrounds, homes, bridges and more were built.

Teachers were also introduced to incorporating a “tinkering” center within their classroom where young children can touch, observe, analyze, and take things apart. If possible, even try and put the objects back together. The process of tinkering is the foundation of creating young engineers. We all know the relative that took everything apart, tinkered and such they went onto become an engineer.

With the emphasis on incorporating STEM experiences in the early childhood classroom and beyond, many children’s authors have written well-crafted STEM-based books appropriate for the early childhood classroom +. Teachers were introduced to approximately 50 children’s books with STEM themes, a couple of my favorites “Iggy Peck the Architect” and the “Three Little Pigs, an Architectural Tale”.

Teachers were also introduced to incorporating appropriate technology for young learners. The “t” in STEM includes any tool a student puts in their hand to gather more data, and find out about the world around them. Teachers used levels, rulers, magnifying lenses, eye loupes, Fisher Price Code-A-Pillar, and more.

A major focus of the early childhood STEM workshop was to incorporate the 21st century skills within STEM lessons and across the curriculum. Teachers need to strive to develop lessons and a classroom environment that nurtures and strengthens 21st century skills which include: creativity and innovation, critical thinking and innovation, communication and collaboration.

As always it was a great session, teachers left the workshop motivated, and so many stated that they were going to be incorporating many of the STEM explorations and practices they had seen during the training within their classroom. As I’ve said before “it’s never to early to incorporate STEM experiences ” within the classroom.

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