Sweet Briar and Lynchburg College will hold a STEM conference at Lynchburg College June 13-15. Participating teachers will present results from the colleges’ shared curriculum development project, “Central Virginia Collaborative for Developing STEM Lessons to Improve Learning in Grades 4 and 5.”
The 19-month project is a partnership between faculty at the colleges and 4th- and 5th-grade teachers and administrators in five area school divisions and local schools (Bedford, Amherst, Appomattox and Campbell counties, Lynchburg City and James River Day School). It was made possible by a $199,502 grant through the Math-Science Partnership program from the Virginia Department of Education, awarded in spring 2011.
In collaboration with STEM and education faculty at the two colleges, 17 school teachers from the area spent the past year developing integrated STEM lessons — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — through an “iterative lesson study” process, creating lesson plans and instructional videos. Each lesson features either an inquiry- or problem-based teaching approach, engaging students in investigation and data analysis.
“These approaches to teaching and learning are known to help students access higher level problem solving skills and to develop critical thinking,” said Jill Granger, project director and professor of chemistry at Sweet Briar.
At the conference, project participants will give presentations and offer workshops to other local teachers. About 100 Central Virginia teachers are expected to participate.
Granger said the lesson plans and instructional videos will be disseminated via the Virginia Department of Education’s iTunes University and a project website this summer. Starting in September, the project’s participating teachers will “help others in their schools to adopt the new lessons for their classrooms,” she added.
Contact: Janika Carey