Science Teachers Getting Ready for Fall


Monday, August 24, 2020
Michigan Tech’s Mi-STAR middle school STEM education curriculum and professional learning program hosted the inaugural event in the new Mi-STAR Learning Series on August 19, 2020. This event, titled “Remote Teaching Resources for Mi-STAR Units” was hosted by Lindsey Watch (Michigan Tech). Wendi Vogel (Kent Intermediate School District), Megan Coonan (Saginaw Intermediate School District), Dawn Kahler (Kalamazoo Public Schools), and Minna Turrell (St. Clair County RESA) presented at the event.

Ms. Vogel began with some reminders of how to tackle the first couple weeks of school given the unique circumstances of the upcoming school year. She also highlighted some extremely important lab safety information for those that will be face-to-face this fall. Ms. Turrell introduced her comprehensive unit student journals and how to incorporate remote technologies with the hard copy resources. Ms. Kahler followed with a demonstration of how she and her colleagues have developed custom google slides that are icon-coded to support speedy and simple transitions for teachers and students from face-to-face to remote learning environments.

The formal presentations were followed by 42 small (4-5 people each) breakout group discussions (Zoom enabled) in which teachers shared their ideas and renewed connections with their colleagues from across the state of Michigan. Ms. Watch, who coordinated the event said, “Teachers are understandably anxious about the upcoming school year so I’m pleased we were able to share these remote resources with them. The power of the Mi-STAR community is incredible and I am continually amazed by what we can accomplish by working together.”

Over 200 teachers from throughout Michigan participated in the event. The need for professional learning opportunities for teachers, such as the ones being provided by Mi-STAR, are acute. Teachers’ appreciation for the support was put best by Roy Hall, who teaches 8th grade science at Adams Middle School in Wayne-Westland Community Schools, wrote in the Zoom chat, “I wanted to say a HUGE, HUGE thank you for all of the work your team has done to create Remote Learning adaptive materials for all of us teachers - it is incredibly appreciated work that you are all doing and work that will bring life back into the psyche of a lot of science teachers.  Thank you Minna, Dawn, Megan, Lindsey and ALL OTHERS!"

Future Mi-STAR Learning Series events will be held throughout the 2020-2021 academic year. Mi-STAR teachers and Professional Learning Facilitators are collaborating to guide the selection of topics. All presentations will be archived on the Mi-STAR website (https://mi-star.mtu.edu/l/mi-star-learning-series). The Learning Series is made possible by funding received from the Michigan Department of Education, through the MiSTEM Advisory Council grant process and the MiSTEM Network. Additional support for Mi-STAR’s Professional Learning program is provided by the National Science Foundation and the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation.

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Mi-STAR was founded in 2015 through generous support provided by the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation. Mi-STAR has also received substantial support from the National Science Foundation, the MiSTEM Advisory Council through the Michigan Department of Education, and Michigan Technological University.
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