Colorado teachers explore options when teaching STEM courses to students

(07-30-2014)

teacher education hosts colorado teachers during title III stem workshop at great sand dunes national park and perserve

Photo by Dr. Joel Judd
The teachers receive hands-on training at the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.

Colorado K12 teachers spent two weeks on the Adams State University campus learning effective methods of teaching STEM courses, especially to English learners. The Adams State University Teacher Education Department hosted 35 teachers from July 13 through July 25, as part of the Title III SEEDS grant.

The teachers attended two classes: astronomy and earth systems science, taught by the Space Foundation staff as well as Dr. Robert Astalos, Adams State associate professor of physics.

Adams State Alumna Shelly Grandell '04 '08 teaches science courses for 6th graders at Horizon Middle School in Cherry Creek. "The classes have been really helpful." She will return to her classrooms with new ideas for teaching science to English Language Learners.

According to Dr. Joel Judd, Adams State professor of teacher education, this summer was the second of two summers' coursework. "During the next school year, the teachers will be implementing content learned as well as sheltering that content for the benefit of their students who are learning English."

Jacki McManus teaches 4th graders in Durango. "The sessions have built my background knowledge in the sciences, especially astronomy." She said last year she took back tools for making science content interesting and meaningful to students. She appreciates the talents of her colleagues across the state. "Working together with other teachers continues even after the conference."

The goals of the project are to 1) increase the number of English learners enrolling in STEM courses and 2) increase the achievement of English learners in those courses. "To achieve these goals we are providing teachers with content courses, sheltered instruction techniques, and school year follow up with classroom visits," Judd said.

Barbara Kruse, retired Alamosa high school science teacher, provides the teacher support. Teachers who successfully complete the summer coursework and demonstrate application of effective teaching principles during the school year will receive a STEM Teaching Certificate next May.