The S2TLC Community is building an online community where STEM teachers can support one another. currently we are using the University of Massachusetts open campus server to host a moodle site. This will have the feel of an online course format for those of you familiar with Blackboard, Moodle, or other similar CMS. The site is not currently being offered to the public as we are piloting this idea. The resource will be open to individuals interested in STEM education. To participate, users will have to register with our group and will be approved once status as a STEM educator is established.
The link to the UMass open course website is https://open.umass.edu . We are listed as The NSF-Noyce S²TLC Virtual Community of Practice under the courses panel.
A major part of this project has been the development of professional learning communities (PLC) or Communities of Practice (COP) within our school districts. In other words, each participating Master Teaching Fellow has been tasked to gather a group of teachers in his or her school to look critically at work done within their field. For example some groups have formed to look at and evaluate student assessment, others have been looking at the new teacher evaluation system being implemented in Massachusetts, and groups, such as my own, have been looking at the quality of student work. To do this we have been using protocols to drive our discussions pulled from the National School Reform Faculty.
So far we have had a lot of success implementing our PLC. Our administration has made these PLCs as a mandatory part of our professional development time. Each department is asked to use our department meetings to run these groups. As such, our group has consisted of mostly Middle and High School Math teachers. On occasion we have had other department members join our group to help get ideas or create a larger group for more productive discussions. Although this is mandated time, most of the teachers are embracing this opportunity to learn from each other and grow as a school district. Using these protocols have created efficient, streamlined, discussions that allow everyone to participate and share. I’m excited about the possibilities and camaraderie we have forged so far.