STEM Learning Communities Program 2013-2014

The UGA Office of STEM Education has awarded start-up funding to eight STEM learning communities as part of the University System of Georgia’s STEM Initiative (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). These collaborative groups are charged with developing and sharing professional knowledge to improve STEM student learning at all levels of education. Below are summaries of the successfully-funded learning communities for 2013-2014.

Adams, Malcolm

UGA, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, Mathematics Department

Blount, Sandy

Clarke County Schools (Retired)

Mathematics Curriculum Team

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The Mathematics Curriculum Team (MCT) members have worked collaboratively to implement the Georgia Performance Standards (GPS) for mathematics into their UGA departments and associated high schools for the last seven years with funding from GSTEP, PRISM and STEM grants. The MCT has been a leader in the mathematical community with respect to GPS and the change to the new Common Core State Standards for Georgia (CCGPS). The MCT will continue to explore issues related to the implementation of CCGPS such as curriculum, instruction, assessment and resources, and use their positions of influence to disseminate their work.

Wiegert, Craig

UGA, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, Physics and Astronomy Department

Physics Learning Community: Modern Physics Outreach

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Modern physics is often skipped at the high school level because of the complexity of the material and general time constraints. Teachers in previous physics learning communities argued that they often lacked the demonstration equipment and/or the knowledge of the use of such equipment for effective demonstrations of modern physics concepts. The Physics Learning Community has a strong foundation in putting modern physics experimental apparatus into the hands of teachers, and providing discussion for the best use of these materials to augment learning.The Physics Learning Community has a broad base of expertise in modern physics topics. In the past, the PLC has attracted external funding to provide radiation detector kits for classrooms. Several members of the community have expressed a desire for a wider variety of activities and perhaps even a larger equipment loan pool than the current size of the radiation detector kits. This year, the community will branch out into other types of experimental demonstrations of modern physics and impact the classrooms of the teachers in the group.

Mativo, John

UGA, College of Education, Faculty of Engineering

Engineering and Technology Learning Community

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A purposeful and coordinated effort to interest and maintain K-16 student learning is desired for a cutting edge technical State of Georgia. The desire can be achieved by intentionally introducing relevance and real life applications through integrating science and mathematics through engineering. The learning community will help facilitate faculty and school district teachers meetings to explore ways to enhance K-16 engineering. The interconnected levels of complexity include elementary and middle school (K-8), high school (9-12) and undergraduate education. Activities will center on identifying effective and efficient ways to use engineering science as an integrator of science and math at the three aforementioned levels and how to implement the methods in Georgia.

White, Dorothy

UGA, College of Education, Mathematics and Science Education Department

Mathematical Pedagogical Problem Solvers (MPPS)

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The Mathematical Pedagogical Problem Solvers will continue their collaborative work as a professional learning community that was started in 2010-11. The MPPS consists of middle school mathematics teachers from each of the four Clarke County middle schools, UGA graduate students, and Dr. White. In the past year, they conducted field observations in classrooms to collaboratively identify student mathematical strengths that teachers could use to support student learning. Using these findings, the MPPS submitted and was accepted to present at the Georgia Mathematics Conference in October 2013. In year four, the MPPS will build their work on the taxonomy of student strengths by collaboratively planning lessons based on the Common Core mathematics standards and practices.  

Kutal, Charles

UGA, Franklin College of Arts Sciences, Associate Dean; Chemistry Department

Coleman, Dava

Jackson County Schools

Chemistry Learning Community

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The Chemistry Learning Community has been in existence since 2005. The CLC recruits new members each year from the UGA faculty and chemistry teachers in the surrounding area. Last year, topics included discussion on Quantum Theory and molecular structures of interesting compounds, and an activity related to non-Newtonian fluids. Current science teaching issues were also discussed such as standards and the assessment of standards.  Each meeting has time built in to share successes and challenges of teaching chemistry. 

Shifren, Ted

UGA, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, Mathematics Department

Whitmire, Paula

Oconee County Schools

AP Calculus Learning Community

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The Northeast Georgia AP Calculus Learning Community was formed in 2005 with 14 members who met monthly to share successful lessons, deepen their understanding of mathematical content, broaden their instructional expertise, develop ways to motivate students and discuss review techniques to help students earn exemplary scores on the College Board exam. Currently, 15 high school teachers representing 10 school districts are regular participants. The AP Calculus Learning Community values the experiences they have had in improving instruction and helping students learn. The members plan to continue the successful work, which includes sharing leadership, taking turns sharing successful lessons, discussing teaching practices and the AP exam format, and supporting each other as more teachers are adding AP Calculus BC at their schools.

Franklin, Chris

UGA, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, Statistics Department

Maddox, Kaycie

Northeast Georgia Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA), Mathematics Specialist

AP Statistics Professional Learning Community

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The AP Statistics Professional Learning Community (PLC) will meet monthly during the 2013-14 school year, facilitated by Chris Franklin of the UGA Statistics Department and Kaycie Maddox, Mathematics Specialist of Northeast Georgia RESA, to support the AP Statistics teachers from local high schools. The major purpose of this group is that of ongoing collaboration and calibration of the AP Statistics learning objectives and implementation of instructional best practices to prepare students for the College Board exam. Members benefit from the opportunity to discuss, clarify, and explore the rigorous pedagogical content knowledge for this course with an internationally recognized expert in the field.  Each learning objective will be explored to determine what students should know, do, and understand.  Rubrics will be used to review student work from various classroom assignments.  Learning community participants will share and review learning activities to be used during instruction to provide feedback for revisions for optimal use and outcome.

Brickman, Peggy

UGA, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, Plant Biology Department

College Science Education Research Group Learning Community

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The University of Georgia has one of the largest groups of discipline-based science education researchers at the college level.  Eleven UGA faculty have Ph.D.’s in the area of science, but are conducting education research on student learning in college science courses. The learning community has met for the last six years as a collaborative group of education research faculty from each of the science departments on campus, as well as faculty from neighboring colleges such as North Georgia College and Piedmont College. Past efforts include securing external grant funding for collaborative learning projects and hosting workshops with experts in the field.  The major goal continues to be to share knowledge and research the effectiveness of student learning strategies for college students enrolled in STEM courses. The group engages in collaborative research projects such as testing novel methods of assessment for critical thinking, interactive animations, incorporating more writing in the discipline, and training future faculty in these areas.