Being that I am a big proponent of sustainable, long-term professional staff development I was elated to return to St. Michael’s School in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic to conduct follow-up science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) teacher training to the entire teaching staff. In January of 2016, the teaching staff, and administrators were introduced to foundational principles of STEAM practices. During the day long session participants were introduced to inquiry-based teaching strategies, journaling, 21st century skills, engineering design process, and incorporating STEAM practices and content across the disciplines. I was hired to come back during August of 2016 for two days to conduct follow-up training to the introductory session. The 1st grade- 12th grade teaching staff was split into two days. The first day was geared for 1st-5th grade teachers including teachers of Physical Education, Religion, Character Education, and Spanish Classes. The second day was geared for middle-high school teachers, and “specials teachers” as listed prior.
I specifically designed all the STEAM investigations teachers were introduced to within the two-day follow-up training to align with individual grade level and subject area benchmarks, goals and so forth. Elementary teachers were introduced to basic materials science content (think solids, liquids, gases +). Engineers in all fields want to design and build products using the ideal material(s) for product longevity, structure and function, etc. We focused on incorporating building and packaging materials into the nature of matter lessons. Teachers were then given the challenge of designing and building a structure of their choice that would be made to withstand elements within their designated theoretical region where the structure would be found (rainforest, desert, etc.). Secondary teachers were introduced to advanced materials science content, comparing and contrasting a wide-array of building and packaging materials, super absorbing polymers, and beyond. Teachers were separated into small groups and given the engineering design challenge of designing, building, and testing a proto-type prosthetic hand with movable parts, to closely resemble a human hand. Teachers were limited to recyclable materials, and affordable readily available supplies such as: rubber bands, cardboard, glue, tape, wire, etc.
Throughout the two day follow-up sessions teachers were introduced to children’s literature with STEAM-based themes, as well as how to incorporate STEAM practices and content across the disciplines. At the close of each day-long session time was allotted for individual teachers and groups of teachers to meet with Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowski for further consultation to address specific individual and/or grade level questions.
It was a great two days at St. Michael’s School in Dominican Republic. The teachers were thoroughly engaged in exploring STEAM practices and content through the eyes of a student. I look forward to hearing how teachers are incorporating STEAM practices and content within their classrooms, and what transformations they have made within their own teaching style after attending the training. The following photos are a sampling of the STEAM-based investigations that were undertaken during the two day teacher training session. For more information about the STEM, STEAM, and NGSS teacher training and keynotes Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowski conducts worldwide complete the contact page found on this site.