A Transformational Shift: Teachers as the Guide.
Four years ago, teachers at Randolph Eastern School Corporation were faced with a paradigm shift as the district rolled out STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) courses with Project Lead The Way curriculum.
“It was a struggle for our teachers to be the 'guide on the side' when students were struggling to
problem solve, but that is exactly what PLTW calls for,” said Neal Adams, Ed.S Director of Grant Management and STEM integration for Randolph Eastern School Corporation.
Their implementation journey started with one teacher in each grade level being trained through PLTW Core Training, PLTW’s immersive professional development. The district was focused on providing the best onboarding experience for their teachers; one that would give them an opportunity to get comfortable with PLTW’s activity-, project-, and problem-based approach to teaching and learning.
“The implementation was a slow process at first, with only a single teacher in each grade level being trained, but it was important to take the time and give teachers the chance to understand, buy-in, and be comfortable with the application of lessons,” said Adams.
Four years later the district is excited to share their progress, which includes elementary teachers going through Lead Teacher Training, a teacher training that enables teachers with the skills and authority to train their fellow teachers to earn a PLTW Launch teaching credential. The ability to have in-house trainers is an invaluable and comforting aspect of the program according to Adams.
“Students are now actively working on hands-on tasks, have gained greater problem-solving skills, and are visibly excited to be working with technology, robotics, and physical materials as part of their curriculum. As the principal, it is very fun to see the creativity of these students come to life as they are placed in a position to problem solve, explore, and cooperate with their peers; all while receiving gentle guidance from their educators. It is also fun to see the teachers learn to transform their role from sage on the stage to subtle guide off to the side,” said Mr. Nate Cash, Northside Principal.
Adams and Cash shared the extraordinary experience of watching the students leaning in and learning through the struggle of the intensive curriculum.
Now that the program is well within its fourth-year, excitement around the program can be felt and heard within the classrooms and hallways. Cash shared some of the student statements he’s heard following the implementation of PLTW’s STEM curriculum for elementary students.
Randolph Eastern School Corporation currently offers STEM curriculum opportunities, including pathways in computer science and engineering, throughout their PreK-12 grades. Every student in PreK through 5th grade takes at least two or three PLTW Launch modules per grade. In middle school every 6th through 8th grade student takes two PLTW Gateway units. In addition, their high school students have the opportunity to take PLTW Computer Science and PLTW Engineering.
“We look forward to the continued growth of PLTW in our Corporation. PLTW has allowed us to grow and transform our teaching to student-led and activity-based learning and has allowed us to be a PLTW Distinguished District for the past three years. Most recently our elementary school was STEM Certified by the Indiana Department of Education,” said Adams.
PLTW Grant and funding opportunities are available now.
Randolph Eastern School Corporation consist of 865 students in grades K-12 (Northside Elementary and Union City Jr/Sr High School). We are located in East Central, Indiana on the Ohio and Indiana Border. We offer PLTW K-12, Leader in Me K-12, 36 Dual Credit/ACP Classes, 2 school-based enterprises, KISS TV (student operated TV and Radio Station), FFA, DECA, Robotics Club K-8 and 18 Varsity Sports
PLTW provides PreK-12 schools, teachers, and students with hands-on, interdisciplinary STEM-based curriculum that uniquely prepares students for life and their future careers.
PLTW rejuvenates teachers, providing world-class experiences that keep them on the forefront of how to prepare students for the demands of tomorrow. PLTW:
- Has provided professional development opportunities to more than 80,000 teachers giving them the support and resources needed to inspire students
- Offers best-in-class teacher training: PLTW Core Training with Master Teachers
- Continuously updates teacher resources that are available on demand
- Facilitates teacher networking opportunities
- Develops curriculum by a team of writers, many of whom are former teachers
Learn more about PLTW on pltw.org