Each session will run from 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. to account for the requirement of 15 contact hours per graduate credit. The sessions will be active working with the same materials children and teachers will use in the classroom. The time will go quickly!
In the first session, teachers will learn how to create a similar positive learning environment for their children along with ideas on how to introduce and work with the materials with young children. Our professional learning is very active and hands-on. The teachers will work with the very materials they will use in the classroom. We find that many early childhood teachers deepen their own understanding of force and motion during these sessions and develop a healthy respect for the engineering challenges young children pose for themselves. At the end of the first session teachers will feel confident on how to set up the environment, introduce the materials to children, and support their children in investigating force and motion through engineering their own ramp and pathway systems. Materials will be sent to awardees after the completion of the first session.
The second session of professional development brings the teachers back together to share successes and problems in implementation. As teachers share, they find affirmation in their questions as well as for their abilities in implementing Ramps & Pathways. Most, if not all, will acknowledge they have room to grow and that there is more to learn. In this session, teachers will improve their ability to interact with students to help develop their ability to observe closely, provide evidence to back up their claims of how things work, and nurture engineering habits of mind (systems thinking, perseverance and optimism, creativity, collaboration, communication, and attention to ethical considerations). Teachers will learn how to use documentation to follow children's progress in understanding of science concepts and engineering behaviors, communicate with stakeholders, and assess children's development in STEM as well as literacy. Understanding how naturally integration occurs will empower teachers to include STEM in their classrooms on a regular basis. At the end of this session, teachers will return to their classroom with more ideas of how to support children's investigations, how to document learning, and how to assess children's thinking that aligns with NGSS. Graduate Course Credit will be given to awardees and stipend for substitutes will be given to sponsoring schools after completion of second session.
All of our instructors have master’s degrees, have implemented Ramps & Pathways in early childhood classrooms themselves as early childhood teachers, and will be able to speak from experience. In addition, they are grounded in cognitive learning theory that aligns with recent medical research in brain development.