Friday, July 10, 2015

STEM Professional Development

Let me be honest.  I live for the summer.  I always knew teaching would be the perfect job for me because when I wasn't a teacher and spring hit... oh it was so hard to sit still in an office.  The last job I held before I taught was perfect for that!  I was able to turn off my fluorescent lights and open the blinds and let the natural light come in, and I would make excuses to visit clients so I could get out of my cubby and go!  Now, I just wait for that last school bell to ring and give my goodbyes for the year to my students and plan on a summer of organization, exercise, dieting, travel, crafting, sleeping in, and a new me.  Oh yeah, and I always intend to blog so much more.

Reality is, I do a little bit of all of those things, and sometimes I even feel I've accomplished something, but partway into the summer...I get bored. There I said it!  The nerd in me gets bored and I start researching cool technology and thinking about all the new things I'm going to use in my classroom the next school year.  So, that leads me to professional development.  We all have to have it, and its better when we aren't forced to do it, but when we are learning about something that interests us.

My new position next year is not just "Math Teacher", it is "STEM Teacher".  Yes, I will be teaching 5th grade math, but I will be teaching STEM, and I couldn't be more excited.  I first delved into STEM head first and a bit organically at my last position.  I say organically, because I really had no formal training.  I did a STEM seminar over the summer with NICERC and it was amazing, and from there I let my natural curiosity run wild and began coming up with my own projects.  My NICERC training focused on middle school but they also have High School Training.  If you want to see what they have to offer, just click their logo below.

After my NICERC training (which I got 34 hours of credit for!) they gave us free curriculum for use.  Well, I used them, but modified it to incorporate a 3d printing course and phase.  So many of the projects we worked on, we didn't build our projects with "craft supplies", we designed parts and pieces within 123design and printed them out on a Makerbot 3d printer.  This is where the organic part came in.  I had never used this app,  and never had used a 3d printer, so this was a serious discovery project.  I along with the students worked out the bugs and kinks of the program.  The students are really good at operating the app, and I am really good at programming the 3d printer and working  The beginning was scary, but sometimes you have to jump in when you are missing that professional development.

The Internet was essentially my teacher!  And of course through the trials and errors my students and I faced.  (Check out all makerbot has to offer by clicking the picture of the 3d printer!)

This year I come to my new school with experience in 3d printing, iPad usage, Smart Board usage, STEM project making, and even robotics.  I am so excited about this new voyage!  Halfway through the summer though, my thoughts return to professional development.  Oh how I would love to roll on into the school with the confidence of everything technology, STEM, and of course math (which let's be honest, I feel pretty confident in!)  Did I mention in addition to the new job, new grade level, new "title", that I also will be in a new state?  YEP, headed to Texas which means no more common core!  (Yes, I am excited about that..) but it also means that I have to do some research and catching up with my Texas counterparts because life is different as a teacher in Texas.  The expectations and rules are a bit different, and lets be honest, I've slept since I got my teaching degree in Texas and I have also immersed myself teaching in another state for 3 years!  Here are some professional development thoughts.

1.  Simple K12.  From time to time, they offer free seminars.  Sure you can't print out the CEU's for them once you've completed them unless you are a member (and it is rather pricey), but the knowledge is there!  So click on their logo if you want to check it out and sign up for a free account.
2.  PBS.  There are tons of free resources on STEM.  Let's face it, it is a pretty hot thing in education right now.  PBS has a nice collection of resources and you can narrow your focus down by age level.  Their educational offerings is pretty awesome and worth browsing.  Click on their logo to take you to a STEM search I did!
3.  District offerings.  I'm headed to some professional development offered by my district next week.  It will be a nice little 3 day conference, and I will post all the juiciest tidbits here at the conclusion of the conference!

4.  National Education Association.  They have a list of 10 great STEM resources.  (Okay, great according to them, but hey check it out!)  They even have a link for curriculum resources.  Clicking their logo will take you straight to the list.

I hope you got something useful out of my personal thoughts, ramblings, and resources.  I have to hop off now, time for some professional development of my own!  What are you doing this summer? Any great resources to share?  Drop me a comment!

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