Teachers Prepare for Face-to-Face STEM Education During Professional Learning Sessions

August 24, 2021

After months of rigorous planning, the Health in Our Hands team began summer professional learning in July in preparation for middle school units, “What controls my health?” (Diabetes) and “How can looking for thrills make me miserable?” (Substance Use Disorder-SUD). The professional learning, hosted by the Genesee Intermediate School District (GISD), began with two virtual sessions. In attendance were seven teachers from Flint Community Schools, Atherton Community Schools, Genesee STEM Academy,Montrose Community Schools, and Wayne-Westland Community Schools.   Two additional sessions were held face-to-face in July for SUD teachers.  However Diabetes was  delayed until late August as several teachers were needed for summer school teaching and districts finalized late position hires.  


In preparation for return to the classroom, the virtual sessions began with community building where teachers discussed times when they have participated in a professional learning group that exhibited inclusion (where their voice was heard and valued).  Teachers also discussed their classroom norms and the transition from traditional face-to-face learning to virtual classrooms, then back to face-to-face as the trajectory for this upcoming 2021-22 school year. 


Teachers then separated into two groups (Diabetes and SUD) to experience a “sample teach” where they took on the learner role to experience the phenomenon  and initial activities of their curriculum.  Teachers usedJamboard, an interactive digital whiteboard by Google, that to construct  a driving question board which  supports students in “figuring out.” Teachers also constructed models.  From there, teachers launched into a close inspection of the Health in Our Hands units and how they incorporate Next Generation Science Standards and principles of Project-Based Learning. 


During the last two face-to-face sessions, SUD teachers experienced a lab using a “Science Take Out” kit  to learn about the role of the brain reward in addiction. To build relationships and prepare for the final Health Summit that will take place in December, teachers were also introduced to community partners Leyla Sankar from University of Michigan-Flint Discovery Place and Alaina Larrea from Greater Flint Health Coalition, These partners represented the HiOH-Flint/Genesee Partnership, a collaborative whose mission is to connect the science classroom to community health through student centered learning and action research. They shared resources to support students and families, teachers and schools.


“HiOH professional learning is extensive and of critical importance to students' learning and development of a STEM mindset,” said Renee Bayer, HiOH principal investigator. “Through these initial sessions, teachers gain an understanding of project-based learning, begin to demonstrate the instructional shifts necessary to help students meet the new Michigan Science Standards, and feel confident to teach the first 3 learning sets of the unit.”


Teachers from Holmes STEM, Atherton and Montrose will begin enacting HiOH units this fall. We will  host  health summits, where students share their community action projects with the community planned for the second week of December.