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Rebecca Petersen's ISMTEC 2013 Presentation regarding STEM Education in a First Grade Thai Classroom
STEM in a 1 st Grade GovernmentThai Classroom Yes, They Can!by Rebecca Petersen, M.A. Ed. University of Northern Iowa, USATeacher/Curriculum Specialist at Anubanchonburi Primary School, THAILAND
Pictures sometimes explain better… http://animoto.com/play/qgyety6V00B8Rf1zuUQkuQ http://animoto.com/play/D1NvBs9SfoPQwU8XgMnr1A
My Definition of STEM: Some Teachers Expect More! It’s about the students – nothing more and nothing less. It starts or ends with the classroom teacher. Choose your mindset – live it. A lot of obstacles are self-created. I believe all my kids are super heroes
How I Started a STEM Program at aThai Government School: Built a trust relationship with my Director – I got the green light. He ordered “Leave her alone!” - all dutifully obeyed and I had FREEDOM to take risks.
Here’s What I Did:1. Changed Staffing Structure2. Changed Scheduling3. Prepared My Classroom4. Trained Foreign Teachers in STEM Principles5. Planned a P1 STEM Curriculum6. Strengthened Home/School Connection7. Implemented – Centered Around Inquiry8. Evaluated9. …Now Planning Next Steps
1. Changed Staffing Structure: HOW Made homeroom teachers in 3 P1 classrooms (same teacher, same kids – no rotation). Joined Science and Math duties P2 – P6.
Changed Staffing Structure: ISSUES The other 2 P1 teachers aren’t getting the same results, despite having same lessons – why? Majority of teachers are not qualified in education let alone subject matter Foreign teachers complaining the work is too hard Disconnect with C&T and Computer teachers High turn-over of staff – training headaches
2. Changed Scheduling: HOW 3 P1 homeroom teachers – no rotation Schedule says STEM not subject - varies Back-to-back periods 1 period on Friday used for P1 formal assessments P1 allowed Friday afternoons for a staff meeting P2-P6 teachers rotate horizontally instead of vertically
Sample Schedule 10:10 – 10:20 8:30 9:20 10:20 11:10 12:50 1:40 2:40 3:30 12:00 -12:50 8:00 – 8:30 2:30 – 2:40 to to to to to to to to 9:20 10:10 11:10 12:00 1:40 2:30 3:30 4:00 Thai Reading & Math Grammar STEM Thai History Club Review Monday Language Writing Khemika Becky Becky Pui Various Khemika Khemika Becky Thai Health STEM Grammar Thai Social Convo Review Tuesday Phonics Becky Language Jonathon Becky Becky Jira Becky Khemika Flag Ceremony – Teacher Becky Review Khemika Thai PE Thai Art STEM Grammar Thai Science Thai Music Review Milk BreakWednesday Language Jonathon Bird Becky Becky Duan Malee Khemika Break Lunch Khemika Thai Thai Scouts STEM STEM Thai Social Phonics Computer ReviewThursday Language Khem/Bird Becky Becky Jira Becky Betty Khemika Khemika Sports Review / Thai Intl Grammar Thai Language Thai Language Chanting Khemika Review Friday Assessment Subjects Becky Khemika Khemika Khemika Meeting Khemika Becky Fai Becky
Changed Scheduling: ISSUES Most teachers think I just play all day Most don’t believe I cover the Thai indicators Schedule supports integration yet no other teachers are really doing it – still following textbooks per subject by unit Dedicated Thai teacher support for Science is unstable Office has difficulty arranging observers/trainees Computer lab availability
3. Prepared My Classroom: HOW Anything that didn’t have the potential to be used for students’ learning was taken out Kid-friendly to encourage exploration of materials Space was maximized to support group work Computer positioned for ease of students’ use Blank walls for students’ work
Prepared My Classroom: ISSUES Rooms are too small - difficult to maneuver between desks Minimal storage space No place to work on long term projects No place to store work-in-progress
4. Trained FT in STEM Principles: HOW 2-day training in-house by me Sent links to additional information and resources Begged P2-P6 teachers to at least try P1 teachers have weekly staff meetings with me
Trained FT in STEM Principles: ISSUES Thai teachers not there – which is most important Not enough training – research indicates you need 80 hours at a minimum No content support – teachers had to be resourceful – didn’t know how No quality control (QC) afterwards – left to themselves
5. Planned a P1 STEM Curriculum: HOW Reviewed Thai indicators - again Identified knowledge by subject (What do students need to KNOW) Identified skills by subject (What do students need to be able to DO with the knowledge) I added what I wanted students to BE Looked at international and US efforts
Planned a P1 STEM Curriculum: ISSUES Plan is mostly in my head week-by-week – I value my students’ interests Doesn’t sync with what the Thai teachers are doing or when – they don’t like that Lack of resources that are applicable to ELL students in Thailand Time consuming to plan, tweak, and then prepare for my Thai kids
6. Strengthened Home/School Connection: HOW Talked to parents first via letters in English and Thai – let them get to know me Started a class Facebook Page – share everything https://www.facebook.com/TeacherBecky?ref=profile Invited parents into my room Planned activities requiring parent volunteers Relied on my parents to help get needed materials Gave homework requiring parent interaction Invited community businesses in as guest speakers
Strengthened Home/School Connection: ISSUES Thai teachers are uncomfortable with it Uniformity – other 2 classrooms not doing it Difference between “Parent Power” and “Power Parents” Some parents doing all their child’s work
7. Implemented – Centered Around Inquiry: HOW Set the yearly attitude and enthusiasm from Day 1 – you are all scientists (bulletin board messages) Required scientist tools (clipboards, bug boxes, magnifying glasses, specimen trays, etc.) Dove in with problem-based situations in every subject (creativity and critical thinking) Focused on behavior / democratic education (collaboration and community) Grabbed project ideas weekly – shared on DropBox with other teachers Stopped using textbooks – used REAL LIFE Stopped focusing on English (inquiry practices naturally increase literacy!) Got out of the classroom lots Listened to my students, got their input on their interests Mini field-trips for just my class Ignored resistance, stayed enthused and positive Got mentorship from professors
Implemented – Centered Around Inquiry: ISSUES Teaching 6 year old Thai students self discipline was no easy task – must have the patience of a holy man Inquiry practices and project work contradicts Thai classroom culture No room in the class to do project work properly, to store work-in-progress, or to showcase students’ work Other P1 teachers got my ideas late, not enough time for them to digest and adapt - got content but not techniques Parents are used to textbooks. They think not filled in = I’m not teaching Textbooks are not technology based and usually not culturally relevant Phonics only subject I follow regimentally – Thai concern I’m not covering everything – they can’t see my big picture Parents more concerned about speaking English rather than comprehension Kids used to rote memorization rather than applying higher order critical thinking skills Kids don’t like being in the sun; aren’t exposed to athletic activities like US kids – hard to get them to “play” Parents overly concerned about safety – a tad spoiled High teacher-student ratio No aids for special needs kids Grading nightmares
8. Evaluated: HOW Allotted Friday mornings for 1-on-1 student formal assessments – checked for comprehension Spelling Reading T/F Science Math Class Cheer Partner Conversation Rubrics for projects completed by teacher
Evaluated: ISSUES 1 project but grades required in different grade books – time consuming Not well documented – don’t maintain student portfolios Not enough “stuff” for my grade books Lose 1 period of teaching time Midterm / Final tests don’t match to the Thai tests – yet my success is compared to them Needs to be easy enough for the other two P1 classrooms to do Difficult to show skill improvement; work now usually not demonstrated until later years
9. Now Planning Next Steps: SO FAR Have a clearer picture of the issues and understanding of the steps needed to overcome them Brought in Thai QC personnel Reviewing teachers in the classroom, their lesson plans and assessments more regularly Providing more training and support – Thai and Foreigners Networking with other schools / experts Getting content from ITEEA and Discovery Education to be used as a pilot class Continuing my teacher action research
Now Planning Next Steps: NEEDED Put more focus on training Thai staff Thai staff needs to increase their English ability Strengthen partnership between Thai and foreign staff Provide incentives for quality foreign teachers to come and stay for at least a year Set benchmarks for grade levels – and expect it Help for special needs kids Revamp the C&T and Computer curriculum Mandate home/school communication Integrate technology into everything we do using TIMS Fix the tablets – let foreigners use them, too Develop rubrics / project reviews / student portfolios Change the classroom settings / layouts/ tools Maintain a consistent STEM professional development program
Parting Thoughts Why must schools integrate their curriculum? Why must we focus on self-discipline and skills more so than knowledge? Why must inquiry be the heart of STEM? Why must creativity, communication, collaboration and critical thinking be the building blocks of STEM? Why must we stop relying on textbooks? Why must we integrate technology with every subject? Why must the teacher’s role change drastically? Why must the primary years be bilingual with a homeroom teacher instead of total immersion with rotation? How do we want Thai students to be as members in a global society? Why should we care about any of this?
Our job is an important one. It’s meaningful andvaluable – yet goes mostly unrecognized andunrewarded. But give it all you’ve got. Aim higher.Live more passionately. Every child is important.Every child is relying on you. Smile. Laugh. Learn. Sing. Dance. Enjoy!
Projects So Far: Draw a Scientist Test – set attitudes and expectations Voted on a student-created class logo for our image branding Lessons on scientist skills / safety Implemented and maintained democratic education with monthly leaders who solve real-life problems in theclassroom 5 senses activity with popcorn and a visit from a local massage school Park phonics – watched living things die on our letters and discussed why Parts of a whole – made moveable bodies and designed outfits learned the design process - clay bodies – cupcake designs – living and nonliving things - toys Mangrove field trip – experiments with sand Pirates, Mermaids and Sea Monsters – interdisciplinary approach to all subjects Tiger Zoo and Khao Keow Zoo critical literacy – habitat clay models – camouflage activity Inquiry process – Oleander Hawkmoth Bug and plant investigation corner Poster presentations – how to show what we know Science integrated into reading textbook - movies Facebook wall, student manager, and homework Fish gills dissection Weekly class cheers – learning grammar through science concepts Break journals (PhotoVoice) – documenting what we observe and using that as a basis to communicate ourunderstanding Recycled Christmas tree construction Alien life cycles design and clay models Force and motion with toy cars – Discovery Education content Designing a moon station Engineering to solve real problems as they arise – problem solvers Problem Based Instructional Tasks (PBIT) for Math
THANK YOU! …..and happy STEMingCONTACT:Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgSkype: thailandbeckyBlog: http://teacherbeckysworld.blogspot.com/Project explanation and evidence available upon request