Loras to Host 55 teachers from Iowa Districts for STEM Teacher Training

Beginning on Tuesday, July 23, 2013, Loras professors will host seven days of workshops aimed at instructing middle school teachers on best practices in teaching of science and math. “Funding for the project was awarded to Loras professors Rebecca Monhardt, Ph.D. and Robert Keller, Ph.D in May and comes from the Iowa Department of Education (DOE) and the  State of Iowa Board of Regents.
Monhardt, associate professor of education and chair of the Division of Education, and Keller, associate professor of mathematics and chair of the Division of Mathematics, Engineering, and Computer Science, will use the grant to supplement existing Title IIA funds awarded to Loras last year for a three-year project, Communities of Exemplary Practice (CEP). The money granted provides professional development for middle school science and mathematics teachers in six districts in Northeastern Iowa. The additional resources will help expand the project to teachers in Charles City for the seven-day summer training session.
For the past 13 years, Loras College has offered high-level professional development in the area of mathematics to hundreds of elementary and middle school teachers throughout northeast Iowa. Student achievement data on the results of this professional development has been overwhelmingly positive, both at the elementary and middle school levels. The test scores of students in the Dubuque Community School District (DCSD) whose teachers participated in the Loras program are substantially higher than those of students with non-participating teachers at the same school and grade.  In addition, the students of middle school teacher participants meeting their growth targets increased by an average of 11%. 
The focus of the program is on integrating science and mathematics with appropriate technology. This emphasis aligns with various state and national initiatives that seek to improve STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education.  Integration of these subjects also extends and deepens students’ understanding of subject area content and motivates students to continue their studies in these fields.

Teacher participants in CEP engage in Japanese-style lesson study, a form of classroom-embedded professional development. In lesson study, teachers will repeatedly participate in a cycle that requires collaboration to plan, research, develop, teach and then examine a class lesson to develop refined, highly-effective lessons. Teachers will take part in campus workshops and go on field trips to the Swiss Valley Nature Center to work with Department of Natural Resources representatives on water quality, testing, filtration and storage at the end of the nine-day teacher training, July 29-30, students from middle schools will also attend the sessions, participating in programming at the Swiss Valley Nature Center as well as on the Loras College campus. The final event will give teachers the chance to use what they have learned to do hands-on activities with the students, using math and science skills such as building a scale model of a water tower.
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