The four programs funded at TTU, by sub-grants recently awarded by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, provide 18-month intensive professional development training for teachers representing kindergarten through 10th grade in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
In 2010, Tennessee was granted more than $500 million in federal funding for improvements in education through the Race to the Top initiative. Tennessee's First to the Top education plan includes expanding performance goals, including academic readiness for young students, better preparing high school graduates for college and careers, and higher rates of graduates enrolling and succeeding in post-secondary education.
Pivotal to the success of these goals for students is the training, technologies, and classroom resources available to the state's educators.
TTU was awarded more than $600,000 for teacher training programs in the first round of sub-grants in 2011.
"The 2012-13 training workshops will involve more than 130 teachers in programs expressly targeted on their students' learning needs," said Sally Pardue, director of TTU's Millard Oakley STEM Center, host venue for the majority of the workshops. "The development of these training programs are based on the needs data provided by the state's TCAP testing results.
The university's four winning proposals were submitted by assistant professor Jane Baker, associate professor Leslie Suters, both of the College of Education; professor Ismail Fidan, College of Engineering; and Pardue.
Baker will work with 40 teachers representing kindergarten through 2nd grade from primarily rural schools in the region in her program, Shaping Early STEM Learning. The teachers will participate in an institute exploring Tennessee common core standards in math and engineering and active learning experiences with a grant of $199,435. The project co-director is Kara Fromke, math instructor.
Suters' program, From Earth to Space with STEM, partners with Roane State Community College and serves 30 math and science teachers from the 4th to 7th grade in that region. The training will focus on earth and space sciences and includes a 10-day summer institute and several Saturday workshops; grant amount $199,731. Project co-director is professor Arthur Lee, Roane State. The program works with business support partner, the Tennessee Valley Authority.
Fidan's project focuses on curriculum development through hands-on design tools and technologies. Twenty-five 9th and 10th grade math, science, and computer technology teachers will experience cutting-edge, cross-curricular activities to replicate in the classroom. The program includes introductions to STEM careers and professional opportunities. Program grant is $189,578. Julie Baker, assistant professor in TTU's College of Education is the project co-director.
Sally Pardue's, STEM Around Us program includes 40 teachers from the 3rd – 6th grades and uses place-based, real-life applications to problem-solving in math and science. This area has been identified as a critical need for improvement in student learning and development. The program grant is $198,706; project co-director is Martha Howard, College of Education.
Collectively, the training programs will serve teachers in Campbell, Cannon, Clay, Cumberland, DeKalb, Fentress, Jackson, Lebanon, Macon, Morgan, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, Roane, Scott, Sequatchie, Sumner, Union, Van Buren, Warren, Wilson, White counties and York Institute.
For more information about teacher education programs and Oakley STEM Center events and activities, visit tntech.edu/stem or call 931-372-6573.