PLTW Teachers Find Real-World Lessons and Year-Long Advice During PLTW Core Training

Over 12,000 teachers will participate this summer in Project Lead The Way’s engaging professional development experience, called Core Training, which prepares them to teach PLTW at their own schools. President and CEO of PLTW Vince Bertram visited trainings at Rowan University and Indiana University-Purdue University and spoke with the teachers about their experiences.

Rowan University

PLTW Master Teacher Rocco Barletta has taught PLTW for five years, including Design and Modeling, Automation and Robotics, Magic of Electrons, Flight and Space, Green Architecture, and Energy and the Environment, at Stevensville Middle School in Stevensville, Maryland. He says the value of PLTW Core Training is in what it offers beyond traditional professional development.

“PLTW Core Training allows for teachers across the country to network with one another and learn how to problem solve using various strategies taught through the curriculum,” he said. “Many new teachers coming into a Core Training have little knowledge of PLTW or engineering.  As a result, many of our participants are unsure of what this training may hold.”

Janessa Vega teaches at Imhotep Institute Charter High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and attended Core Training at Rowan University, and although she said she felt overwhelmed at the beginning learning project-based teaching, her Master Teachers worked closely with each person to ensure they felt comfortable. Vega advises teachers to stay organized throughout training to help keep the pace.

“My advice for staying organized is by saving all documents and photos for each unit in a Google Drive folder,” she said. “This will allow teachers to organize their work and also share it with other teachers easily.”

She also suggests taking photos of projects and work during training to help remember it all back in the classroom. The photos can also provide encouragement for students as they face same the same challenges.

“Core Training allowed me to actually do all of the program projects and assignments,” Vega said. “Often as a busy teacher, I don't have time to do every project and assignment I give to my students. Therefore, because I completed the work myself, I am able to modify it to fully meet the needs of my classroom.”

Kaylene Jensen teaches Design and Modeling and Automation and Robotics at IJ Holton Intermediate School in Austin, Minnesota, and has been a Master Teacher for three years. Jensen agrees that PLTW Core Training is challenging but offers teachers the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in learning the curriculum and necessary skills needed to instruct in a meaningful and impactful way.

“This training ensures that you have opportunity to engage in professional conversations with other teachers with different experiences,” she said. “This allows a teacher to reflect and stretch themselves as they apply ideas to implement in their own classrooms.”

Jensen said that teachers often attend conferences where they may not be held accountable to taking in new knowledge or applying new strategies.

“PLTW trainings ensure that participants have an opportunity to apply their knowledge through application of skills, reflections, and group discussions facilitated by experienced educators who teach the curriculum to students and not by people who imagine what it would look and feel like in a classroom,” she said.

Indiana University – Purdue University

Marva Moore is the Affiliate Director for PLTW at Indiana University – Purdue University in Indianapolis, Indiana, and has been on both sides of the Core Training classroom. She taught PLTW Biomedical Science and was one of the Master Teachers who trained the inaugural group of teachers for PLTW Principles of Biomedical Science.

“To say that the PLTW Biomedical Science program changed my teaching career is very much an understatement. Being part of this program extended an already lengthy career,” she said. “The PLTW Core Training program is one of the major things that sets these programs apart from all of the other science curriculum I experienced in my 36-year teaching career. The hands-on training under the leadership of Master Teachers who have taught and continue to teach the PLTW courses is key to the success of any teacher who accepts the challenge of teaching a PLTW course.”

Moore also affirmed that the major value of Core Training is building a network with teachers across the country.

“Core Training provides a wonderful opportunity for development of a collaborative network that teachers can rely upon as they go back to their schools and begin to teach the PLTW courses,” she said. “This type of support is not often available to teachers as they begin their careers or even as experienced teachers teach new classes.”,

Bertram visited Core Training at IUPUI and met the teachers who were learning and collaborating together.

“PLTW is growing because of you,” he said. “You can have great curriculum, but it just doesn’t work without great teachers.”

Stay current on Vince’s travels – and the latest in education and workforce development news – by following him on Twitter at @VinceBertram.