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Florida State U Gets Millions To Create STEM Workshops for Teacher Training

The Florida Department of Education has awarded a STEM research center at Florida State University (FSU) $14.3 million in new grants to build a professional development program for teachers and build up the state's online collection of science, technology, engineering and math curriculum resources.

The university's Florida Center for Research in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (FCR–STEM) is working with other university and education partners to create FCR–STEMLearn, a program that will produce two-week teacher summer institutes. The goal of those sessions, said Rabieh Razzouk, FCR–STEM’s acting director, is to boost teach teachers' understanding of math and science and help them develop lesson study teams at their schools to teach "challenging courses in these critical fields." In lesson study teams groups of three to six teachers in a school or district work together to determine goals, create lesson plans to reach those goals, and collaborate to refine their teaching effectiveness.

FCR-STEMLearn will also offer follow-up support to teachers during the school year and generate new instructional resources to be made available on CPALMS. CPALMS — for collaborate, plan, align, learn, motivate and share — is a public Web site containing free curriculum and other digital materials to help teachers implement Florida's state education standards.

During the summer training, participants will work with scientists and mathematicians in Florida State’s College of Arts and Sciences to improve their content knowledge. Then they'll work with each other to develop model lessons that can be shared with math and science teachers statewide via the CPALMS portal.

"This combination — enhanced knowledge and curriculum development — is a key strength of FCR–STEMLearn," Razzouk said. "Teachers not only learn more about their subject but also come away with lesson plans they can use to bring that new knowledge into the classroom to help their students learn."

"More Florida students are enrolled in STEM courses than ever before," said Florida Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart. "It is critical that we provide teachers the high-quality support and training they need to ensure students leave our schools with math and science skills that will help them obtain well-paying and much needed careers. I am pleased that the Department of Education and FSU can offer these tools and resources to help teachers give their students the best chance at success in college, career and life."

"Teachers typically work alone, and this can limit their growth and development," Razzouk said. "Collaboration through lesson study teams ends this isolation and brings teachers together to address common concerns, to share best practices and to work toward continuous improvement."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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