At a professional development this month, high school math teachers from Campbell County (TN), and surrounding districts, met with TPTE graduate students Ashley Walther and Michael Lawson to talk about STEM, modeling, and formative assessment in the classroom. This session is a follow up to the Improving Teacher Quality (ITQ) grant funded STEM and Math Modeling Institute this past summer.
Did you know that paper can be used to make batteries, blu-ray discs, and even a house? The amazing utility of paper is what guided our teachers through a STEM modeling challenge, where teachers focused on using their knowledge of polygons and engineering to construct a table out of newspaper tubes. The table had to be at least 8 inches tall and able to hold a heavy book. Teachers worked in groups (as students would) to create their tables, and a competition of whose table could hold up the book the longest was conducted after the group work time. Finally, we discussed the math content and practices embedded in the activity, how students might experience the activity, and any modifications we might make to the activity to fit particular students or groups of students.
This group engineering challenge lead to a discussion on formative assessment. Teachers began by discussing the idea of formative assessment, how they currently use formative assessment, and how they would formatively assess the engineering challenge. We then went on to discuss specific research-based formative assessment strategies that aim to understand student thinking. Teachers concluded the session by planning formative assessments for their classroom.
We look forward to continuing our work with these teachers in two more sessions this Fall and Spring, and into the summer and following school year.