Tennessee Tech News

Tech faculty share cross-disciplinary approaches with local teachers

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Tennessee Tech nursing student Emily Taylor discusses vital signs with Gordsonville Junior High Students.

Published Tuesday Oct 10, 2017

An Improving Teacher Quality workshop for middle school mathematics teachers is adding up to a good experience.

Funded by a Tennessee Higher Education Commission grant and under the direction of Holly Anthony, four Tennessee Tech faculty — Anthony, Melissa Geist, Ann Davis and Jennifer Meadows — hosted 30 middle school math teachers representing 10 different school districts around the Upper Cumberland in an ITQ workshop designed to incorporate authentic healthcare and business applications into their lessons.

“It was the perfect example of pedagogical expertise and disciplinary knowledge coming together to help teachers respond when mathematics students ask the common question, ‘When are we going to use this?’’’ said Geist, a professor in the Whitson-Hester School of Nursing.

At the workshop, the middle school teachers participated in a Shark Tank-type competition to help incorporate health and business. This mini-entrepreneurship competition resulted in some innovative ideas that could possibly be used in the business industry.

One of the ideas included a bracelet that would go on students’ wrists and turn colors if they had a fever. Another idea was to spray a disinfectant such as Lysol through a duct system for disinfecting classrooms. Another idea was putting medical information on a phone or fitbit that synched at the doctor’s office instead of having to fill out information over and over again.

“They were very enthusiastic about it and we did it in a format where they could take it back and use it in the classroom with the students,” said Davis, an associate professor in accounting at Tech. “We tried to make it applicable across the board.”

The workshop also included information assessments and an exercise where the teachers had to break into a box by figuring out the right combination through collaboration and teamwork.

“It’s amazing how that one week has built into something a lot bigger and got a lot more people involved,” said Meadows, an assistant professor in curriculum and instruction at Tech.

As a follow-up to the workshop, five Tech nursing students went to Gordonsville Junior High School and taught 7th and 8th graders about vital signs and how nurses use these to graph and trend data to make treatment decisions. They also talked about nursing and healthcare professions at Tech and how they should start to prepare now if they wanted to pursue these fields. 

“They have all been to a nurse or know a nurse and they have all been in a business of some sort,” said Anthony, who teaches mathematics education in Tech’s College of Education. “We try to connect these STEM topics and these math standards to professions not only that are STEM professions, but professions they are familiar with.”

The GJHS students were engaged and learned things they may not of had a chance to learn if it hadn’t of been for the workshop their teacher had been a part of.

“It’s such a win-win,” added Geist. “We enjoyed getting to work with the teachers and then that was a valuable experience for our Tech students.”

Anthony, Geist, Davis and Meadows continue to be in touch with the middle school teachers who participated in the workshop and plan on having more interaction between Tech students and middle school students in the near future.

“It’s been great,” Anthony said. “We would love to go out and continue to do more with this.”

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