KENNESAW, Ga. (Apr 7, 2017) — Elementary school teachers have to know a lot about a lot of things. Tasked with teaching some of Georgia’s youngest learners, these teachers, in most cases, instruct their students in math, science, social studies, language arts and reading.
Bagwell College of Education Associate Professor Charlease Kelly-Jackson recently received two Improving Teacher Quality grants to help these teachers increase their science content and pedagogical content knowledge. The grants are funded by the University of Georgia, Improving Teacher Quality Higher Education Program. Since 2012, Kelly-Jackson has received five Improving Teaching Quality grants totaling more than $225,000.
“All of my grants have a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) focus,” she said.
The first grant, “Phenomenal 3-D Science,” is a continuation of “Three-Dimensional (3-D) Science in the Schoolyard: Building Capacity for the Next Generation,” another Improving Teacher Quality grant Kelly-Jackson received last year. “Phenomenal 3-D Science” will increase the capacity of 14 third-, fourth- and fifth-grade teachers to engage students in solving real-world problems by using the schoolyard as a learning lab.
“We received really good evaluations for “3D Science in the Schoolyard” and other teachers in the districts were asking for this type of professional development,” Kelly-Jackson said. “If they want this kind of professional development, we need to give it to them.”
Working with teachers in Fulton and DeKalb counties, as well as the Atlanta Public School System, Kelly-Jackson, along with Adrienne Lester King, Kennesaw State assistant professor of ecology, evolution and organismal biology, will host a five-day summer institute for selected teachers, along with follow up workshops, webinars and mentoring during the 2018 – 2018 academic year.
“These professional learning activities will bring together teachers from high-need schools with Kennesaw State University’s Bagwell College of Education, College of Science and Mathematics and the Captain Planet Foundation,” she said. “We’ll start in late June to prepare teachers for the next school year.”
The Captain Planet Foundation provides the curriculum and 3D science kits for the teachers to take back into the classroom.
“I absolutely loved the workshop, and I look forward to using what I learned this week into my lessons,” one teacher wrote in an evaluation of last year’s program. “The instructors were excited about science, and their excitement brushed off on me.”
Focusing on schools in south Fulton County, Kelly-Jackson’s second grant will fund “SySTEMic,” a program which will provide science professional development and STEM kits for 15 third through fifth grade teachers who work with students from low socioeconomic backgrounds.
For this grant, Kelly-Jackson is partnering with colleagues Roneisha Worthy of the Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology, and Brendan Callahan in the College of Science and Mathematics.
“Anticipated outcomes include growth of teacher content knowledge, the use of the storyline approach to solving problems, student engagement, motivation and achievement in science,” she said. “SySTEMic participants will become teacher leaders at their schools where they will train other teachers in SySTEMic strategies to take the concept schoolwide.”