- Year 2023
- NSF Noyce Award # 1660620
- First Name Julie
- Last Name Dahlstrom
- Discipline STEM Education (general)
Andrea Henle, Christine Blaine, Karin Sconzert, Aaron Trautwein
Karin Sconzert and Andrea Henle, Carthage College; Leah Hall and Spencer Best, Kenosha Unified School District
The Minds Soar Merging Science and Math Network is focused on rejuvenating and empowering middle school teachers through teacher-led interdisciplinary professional development. This research helps us understand how to retain math and science teachers at the middle school level.
How can middle school teacher networks expand the curriculum to include interdisciplinary links between math and science? Does teacher-led professional development engage teachers differently than district-led professional development?
We identified a need in our partner school district for more interdisciplinary cooperation between math and science teachers in the middle schools. A group of teacher-leaders was assembled, given the flexibility to design their own professional development, and empowered with resources. They opted to create and demonstrate model lessons at two Saturday morning workshops. Teacher participants were able to engage with the teacher-leaders and openly discuss how to implement these lessons within their own classrooms. Teacher participants received a package of lesson materials including supplies. Participants were surveyed at the end of each workshop.
Survey data indicated that participants reacted positively to the workshops. The most favored response was to the demonstration lessons and materials: 86% of respondents said they would use supplies immediately, 77% of respondents thought the model lessons were most useful, 59% of respondents appreciated the post-lesson discussion. Teacher participants provided input on how to structure future meetings. Attendance and geographical reach increased from the fall workshop to the spring workshop. Total attendance increased 28% from fall (18 teachers) to spring (23 teachers), and teachers from four additional schools attended, including one from a neighboring school district.
The Minds Soar Network has provided a safe place for teachers to be vulnerable, share struggles, support each other, and build community. As the network develops, we hope to see evidence that it will enhance the curriculum and increase student engagement.