Colorado's 100kin10 partners are interested in leveraging the network to collectively work on common issues we all face. To this end, we have started to offer meetings in addition to the annual Back to School Breakfast. To date, we have identified some common topics to address. Our next step is looking at how might we maintain this network and solve common challenges with limited capacity.
As 100Kin10 has noted in the Grand Challenges, many elementary teachers do not teach STEM subjects well, often because of their own anxiety around STEM content knowledge. This is especially true when it comes to the areas of computer science (CS) and computational thinking (CT), which are increasingly viewed as essential skills and knowledge for all students preK-12. Unfortunately, few of today’s elementary teachers have experience or training in integrating CS or CT into their teaching, despite the fact that 63% of 3rd-5th graders say they would like to learn coding (Speak Up 2015).
Our very early stage idea is to prepare high school students with advanced computer science knowledge to work alongside elementary teachers to integrate digital resources, such as games-based learning designed to teach CS principles and CT, into their classrooms. Project Tomorrow has 20 years of experience supporting high school students in exploring teaching careers by teaching STEM lessons in elementary classrooms, and we have found that participating elementary teachers are often receptive to the lesson ideas presented by the high school students and appreciate the impact on student interest and engagement in STEM that results from the near peer teaching model. Our hypothesis is that pairing elementary teachers with high school students with CS/CT expertise will be an effective way to overcome the barriers to integrating these topics into elementary classrooms.
The Internet provides ready access to a wide range of media that have the potential to greatly enhance instruction and learning in science. Yet, much of this content is not curated and may be of questionable accuracy. Teachers may be left with myriad decisions, and little time or preparation for making them. To promote next generation science learning, teachers need the ability to effectively select and use digital media that accurately present science concepts in authentic contexts and that are vetted for their grade-level appropriateness.
There is a need for PD focused on strategies for creating media-rich lessons using the frameworks of science system models, effectively using digital media (including video, simulations, interactive lessons and other digital tools and resources). The free PD being envisioned by WestEd, WGBH, New Teacher Center and KQED will facilitate teachers’ use of the digital learning to enhance their ability to deliver effective instruction in science.