Creating student-centered classrooms is at the heart of STEM. Fortunately, several thousand classrooms and out-of-school environments will experience this type of learning through Iowa’s STEM Scale-Up Program.
Educators in Iowa applied for programs on the menu in early 2016 and were awarded and trained for these programs this summer. Now, educators like Valerie Sitzmann, a mathematics teacher at Kinglsey-Pierson Middle School in Kingsley, have started using the program and are noticing big shifts in student attitude and achievement.
“In the past, I thought I had a pretty student-centered classroom, but I can now see that I was wrong about that. The students have so much more ownership in their learning now with the cooperative learning strategies and team building that are a part of PowerTeaching Math (PTM),” Sitzmann said. “This has also leveled the playing field for the students, and everyone has their role on the team. They all have to work together if they are going to be successful.”
PTM is one of 11 programs currently being employed by nearly 1,700 educators across Iowa through the STEM Scale-Up Program. PTM puts a spin on mathematics by removing a textbook and creating environments where small, mixed-ability teams can discuss problems, master solutions and develop teamwork skillsets together.
This is the first year educators in Iowa have used PTM, including 10 schools and roughly 1,900 students impacted through the STEM Scale-Up Program partnership. Sitzmann encourages other educators to consider applying for a program in early 2017.
“When I am struggling with some of the issues with launching a new curriculum, like time-prepping lessons, paperwork, learning new curriculum, I always go back and look at the growth my students are making and their increased problem-solving abilities,” she said. “I know that applying for the STEM Scale-Up Program was the right choice because in the end, it is all for the students.”
For more information on the STEM Scale-Up Program, please visit www.IowaSTEM.gov/Scale-Up.