BGSU faculty receive grants to advance STEM teaching

Area math and science teachers will learn new ways to improve student learning and add excitement to class thanks to grants issued by the Ohio Board of Regents to faculty in the Bowling Green State University Colleges of Education and Human Development and Arts and Sciences.

Tracy Huziak-ClarkDr. Tracy Huziak-Clark, education, and Dr. John Laird, chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, received $154,864 for “Science Teaching Advancement through Modeling Physical Science V” or STAMPS V. The goal is to provide high school physical science teachers tools to increase student learning and excitement about science by implementing research-based modeling instruction in their classrooms.

According to Huziak-Clark, modeling instruction involves engaging students in creating conceptual models that are graphical, pictorial, verbal and mathematical so that they look at the concept they’re trying to understand from multiple perspectives. “The process is student-centered and requires a great deal of active learning,” she explained. “Students are learning about science concepts in a similar fashion to how scientists work.”

The fifth incarnation of the STAMPS program will continue to involve Toledo Public Schools and support teachers in Hancock and Wood Counties.

The teachers will attend a two-week summer institute where they will learn about physical science concepts, modeling methods to teach these concepts, and how to overcome student misconceptions. These strategies will be implemented during the academic year. In addition, they will meet six times to further elaborate content and physical science models, discuss issues, concerns and successes, and participate in online learning communities.

The project will also allow 12 former participants to return and learn how to adapt modeling for physical sciences for Biology.

“We have really had a lot of teachers who have embraced modeling pedagogy,” Huziak-Clark said. “What I have heard from teachers is that it has rejuvenated and refreshed how they teach and how their students learn. Teachers can immediately understand what students know, and what they don’t, and can tailor their instruction to what they don’t really understand. It’s really a way to help teachers think about their instruction to help further their students’ understanding and learning.”

Gabriel MatneyDr. Gabriel Matney, education, and Deb Gallagher, education, received $46,595 for Black Swamp–Math Teachers Circle (BS-MTC). The goal of the project is to continue to help teachers implement the new Common Core Standards for Mathematics.

BS-MTC involves primarily teachers at Fostoria Local Schools, though Matney said teachers throughout the Black Swamp region will be involved. The goal is to assist them in fully understanding the mathematics content of Ohio’s New Learning Standards and effective mathematics classroom implementation related to the Standards for Mathematical Practice.

Administrators from the partner districts will select 20 math teachers as participants. The professional development will involve four full days in the summer of 2015, during which time they will deepen their mathematics content knowledge, explore the use of inquiry, technology, mathematical tools, mathematical models, and other research-based effective teaching practices. Follow-up sessions will continue throughout the fall of 2015 and spring of 2016.

As teachers implement these ideas in their lessons, continue to collaborate with one another, and refine their teaching practices, Matney said they will be instrumental in assisting other teachers in the process of change and encouraging them to join the future BS-MTC that will continue to meet and support teachers after the grant funding has concluded.

Matney said he hopes the sessions will help teachers throughout northwest Ohio deepen their content knowledge in mathematics together. “We want teachers to come together and think about math and advance our understanding in teaching it, as well as provide context to talk about what we need to do to help each other,” he said.

“Ohio’s New Learning Standards give us a very rich description of what it means for classrooms to promote students’ mathematical proficiency, and math is something we have traditionally struggled with in this country,” he explained. “Through the BS-MTC community we will strive for both engagement and rigor to invigorate an enjoyment of mathematics in our classrooms.”