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Published August 07, 2019
The University of Wyoming Science Initiative’s Learning Actively Mentoring Program (LAMP) awarded seven scholarships to K-12 educators from Wyoming schools, enabling them to participate in the Roadmap to STEAM Conference at UW.
The conference is a professional development opportunity focused on active-learning experiences with high-level engagement and innovative practices and instructional strategies to prepare students for success.
The Wyoming Department of Education, in collaboration with Laramie High School, sponsored the conference. LAMP Director Rachel Watson is a member of the planning committee and selected the seven K-12 teachers for the scholarships to attend and participate in the conference.
Scholarship recipients were from:
-- Douglas Primary School: Linda Shearer.
-- Riverton Middle School: Nanna Frazier, Alma Law and Tasya Ravellette.
-- Rock Springs High School: Larissa Apel, Kimberly Harper and Deborah Jensen.
The teachers began with an immersive workshop that facilitated their design of classroom curriculum based on solving real community problems. Frazier, Law and Ravellette developed lesson plans that will allow their sixth- and seventh-grade students to collaborate with Riverton city leaders to help provide student-driven solutions to an environmental problem, Watson says. The students will engage in soil sampling followed by microbial and chemical analysis.
Watson adds that UW undergraduate, graduate and faculty researchers will support the Riverton students.
Jensen and Apel presented a session, titled “Problem Based Learning in a Secondary Classroom.” The Rock Springs educators spoke about the many hands-on, minds-on activities that they had designed, developed and implemented in their high school classes. These ranged from developing a marketing plan for HPV vaccination to assessing overgrazing problems on riverbanks.
“Their biology, physical science and environmental science students have taken ownership of their own learning because of their investment in the problem-solving process,” Watson says. “Deb and Larissa also spoke about their collaboration between LAMP and the types of activities and student engagement made possible when the LAMP Roadshow visits.”
The LAMP Roadshow is a team of undergraduate and graduate researchers and learning assistants that take active learning “on the road” to Wyoming K-12 schools.
During the conference, educators also participated in hands-on sessions facilitated by Wyoming K-12 teachers, college educators, statewide CTE (career and technical education) educators, Wyoming nonprofit organizations, such as Serve Wyoming, and invited keynote speakers. Current LAMP scholarship winners met with LAMP mentors and prior LAMP educators, and attended their sessions.
Past LAMP educators and mentors were:
-- Eastern Wyoming College, chemistry: Sridhar Budhi.
-- Laramie County Community College, agricultural economics: Rose McBride presented a session, titled “Practicing Entrepreneurship Across the Curriculum.”
-- Laramie High School: Becca Watson helped facilitate a LAMP workshop.
-- Laramie Middle School: Ali Baas helped facilitate a LAMP workshop.
-- UW Ellbogen Center for Teaching and Learning: Christi Boggs.
Rachel Watson says that the week was filled with “collaboration and inspiration.”
“The planning that was done in this one week will fuel future transformative learning experiences for hundreds of K-12 and college students,” she says. “The teachers left Laramie feeling jazzed about their teaching. This will allow them to share this enthusiasm with their students and to do so with support and cutting-edge pedagogical planning.”
Some of the participants commented on how the LAMP workshop will help shape their classroom teaching.
“Problem-based classroom activity is intimidating because the plan changes a little every day and, sometimes, drastically, but that’s what makes it exciting,” Law says. “The drastic changes are always attached to student breakthroughs and engagement. The time we spent in LAMP workshops will lead to many of those ‘ah-ha moments’ for the teachers and learners as they become interchangeable.”
Frazier adds that the collaborative experience at the conference was beneficial.
“This conference was a supportive environment that provided an opportunity to problem-solve and plan,” she says. “We were able to plan our project and even find dates for field trips. We also were able to make connections with other educators and learn about the amazing project-based learning they are doing at their sites.”
Shearer says the conference provided the perfect setting for teachers from across the state to collaborate and plan for the coming school year.
“I am excited for the opportunity to partner with University of Wyoming undergraduate students, graduate students and faculty members as we bring STEAM activities alive for the kindergarten and first-grade students at Douglas Primary School,” she adds.