Public Discussion

  • Icon for: Sean Smith

    Sean Smith

    Facilitator
    May 11, 2015 | 09:18 a.m.

    The teacher experiences described in the video are gaining momentum as the emphasis on integrated STEM instruction grows. Can the project speak to challenges it has encountered. Three that come to mind are: 1) business recruitment, 2) teacher recruitment, and 3) supporting transfer of learning back to the classroom.

  • Icon for: Jeff Weld

    Jeff Weld

    Presenter
    May 12, 2015 | 10:22 a.m.

    Sean our business partners can be a challenge to keep in orbit with us each year, as personnel changes on their end often mean the ball can get dropped. And attracting new businesses is a cold-call never easy, but getting easier as we accumulate evidence to present. Teacher recruitment can be a challenge as well, as it is bold and confident teachers that are most likely to engage, so we do lot of cajoling and promoting. Transfer back to classrooms is well-orchestrated by project managers who plan meaningful pre and post workshops as well as real-time virtual communities. Thank you.

  • Icon for: Sean Smith

    Sean Smith

    Facilitator
    May 12, 2015 | 07:47 p.m.

    Jeffrey, I’m really interested in the successes you’ve had recruiting businesses, as I know this is a major challenge for many involved in the STEM school movement. Anything you can share about lessons learned would be much appreciated. You mention the importance of accumulating evidence. I’m really curious what kinds of evidence businesses find convincing. Thanks a lot.

  • Icon for: Jeff Weld

    Jeff Weld

    Presenter
    May 12, 2015 | 08:02 p.m.

    Sean the main selling points we employ for drawing in business partners are (1) ROI — over the years we’ve accumulated evidence from past business partner surveys regarding the monetary value of having an extern in the shop or on the floor or in the finance wing, etc. It can be sizeable — as much as six figures in cost savings, inventory savings, inefficiencies ironed out, etc. And of course we document the intellectual contributions of the externs — often solving a problem that vexed a manufacturer or took care of something they just had not had time to address. Then (2) we compel our business partners to be part of the education solution so many of them have observed — readiness of graduates for the world of work. They find this a natural entry point behind the walls of schools, to be able to exert a healthy influence via partnerships. Thanks.

  • Icon for: Jeff Weld

    Jeff Weld

    Presenter
    May 12, 2015 | 08:02 p.m.

    Sean the main selling points we employ for drawing in business partners are (1) ROI — over the years we’ve accumulated evidence from past business partner surveys regarding the monetary value of having an extern in the shop or on the floor or in the finance wing, etc. It can be sizeable — as much as six figures in cost savings, inventory savings, inefficiencies ironed out, etc. And of course we document the intellectual contributions of the externs — often solving a problem that vexed a manufacturer or took care of something they just had not had time to address. Then (2) we compel our business partners to be part of the education solution so many of them have observed — readiness of graduates for the world of work. They find this a natural entry point behind the walls of schools, to be able to exert a healthy influence via partnerships. Thanks.

  • Icon for: Sean Smith

    Sean Smith

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2015 | 07:23 p.m.

    Thank you, Jeffrey. With regard to the ROI point, could you elaborate on how the externs bring about the cost savings? You can probably tell that I’m not very familiar with how the externships work. Are the externs compensated? If not, then I can definitely see how they save money.

  • Icon for: Jeff Weld

    Jeff Weld

    Presenter
    May 14, 2015 | 01:14 p.m.

    Sure thing, Sean. While on site, externs are of course “at work” generating databases, programming computers, dissembling machines, etc. At summer’s end we ask the host business or agency to estimate the monetary value of the extern’s work. A hospital estimated over $100,000 in cost savings as a result of the some inventory analysis work by an math teacher extern in their emergency room. A manufacturer estimated a $30,000 value of the extern that they’d have likely spent on a consultant who’d have done the same job. That sort of thing. Thanks.

  • Icon for: Davida Fischman

    Davida Fischman

    Facilitator
    May 11, 2015 | 02:31 p.m.

    Looks like an intriguing way to provide teachers with an understanding of applications of mathematics and science. Could you speak to the aspect of classroom implementation: how are teachers utilizing this knowledge in their classrooms? Does this provide the basis for projects, or for teaching some applications? How are students responding?

  • Icon for: Jeff Weld

    Jeff Weld

    Presenter
    May 12, 2015 | 10:27 a.m.

    Davida over the duration of the project we’ve collected lots of artifacts and evidence from teachers. Many of them translate their business experience into lessons for their students. For example, a mathematics teacher working for a major grocery chain on supply chain has students developing algebraic algorithms for predicting product demand at a local store, based on weather, for example. “How can we mathematically model demand for grilling supplies and sunscreen based on the weather forecast?” And in a surprising number of instances, teachers’ very philosophies about teaching (trending toward more career readiness)are seen to shift in their reflective pieces. As to student effect, our evaluators track content gains as well as attitudes in partnership with Iowa Testing (The Iowa Test of Educational Development) with results coming out later this spring. Thanks.

  • Icon for: Janet Kolodner

    Janet Kolodner

    Facilitator
    May 12, 2015 | 03:14 p.m.

    See my comments below. Making these things happen systematically (across more of the participants) would be important, I think, and then, I think the possibilities of what teachers could get from the program and what they might bring to their classrooms are quite varied and idiosyncratic. I’d really like to see, as I say below, a really nicely nuanced change model showing what you expect and then some investigations of what the impacts actually are and under what circumstances the good things happen. That will allow both refining the program as well as helping others put together similar programs. My own experience with a program like this many years ago at Georgia Tech was that while there are many anecdotes to offer, there is still much to learn about getting to the impacts we all want (or think we want).

  • Icon for: Janet Kolodner

    Janet Kolodner

    Facilitator
    May 12, 2015 | 03:14 p.m.

    Or even knowing what those impacts might be. ;-)

  • Icon for: Janet Kolodner

    Janet Kolodner

    Facilitator
    May 12, 2015 | 03:08 p.m.

    So, what might you put in place to help teachers more systematically recognize what they can take to the classroom and transfer it there? To me, that’s the most important thing — the transfer to the classroom — and my guess is that it is not easy for many of them to know what they have learned that they can take back and not easy, as well, to figure out how to apply what they’ve learned. There are a variety of challenges in doing that; I bet just getting teachers together regularly during the summer and afterwards with a facilitator who can help them learn from teach other and think through these issues. (Also pat them on the back when they get back to school and their principals don’t appreciate them enough.)

  • Icon for: Janet Kolodner

    Janet Kolodner

    Facilitator
    May 12, 2015 | 03:10 p.m.

    I wonder, too, how you might measure the effects on students of these teachers. It has to be more than just getting at what teachers are helping them learn about jobs. My guess is that connections teachers can help students make to the world around them will keep more students interested and wanting to learn. I wonder what your change model is, and based on that, what you can do to measure both effects on teachers and effects on their students.

  • Icon for: Jeff Weld

    Jeff Weld

    Presenter
    May 12, 2015 | 07:57 p.m.

    Janet we have a wonderful team of mentors who coach extern-teachers on translational applications of their work experiences back at school. Take a look at their blogs and lessons at http://www.iowastem.gov/externships. And let me know if you’d like a copy of our annual report. Thanks.

  • Icon for: Janet Kolodner

    Janet Kolodner

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2015 | 10:40 a.m.

    I was asking you to be explicit here in this discussion about the lessons you are learning. I was also challenging you to take a systematic approach to learning those things and to thinking about what you might investigate and learn. So what are the lessons that others can take away from your work?

  • Icon for: Jeff Weld

    Jeff Weld

    Presenter
    May 14, 2015 | 01:18 p.m.

    Sure thing, Janet. Some of the lessons that others can take from our work include our finding that business hosts believe the experience to be beneficial in that teachers accomplish host goals, acquire real-world examples to share with students, and forge relationships between school and industry.
    Teachers report improved teaching as a result of their experience and believe that it affected STEM interest among their students. Thanks.

  • Icon for: Arthur Lopez

    Arthur Lopez

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2015 | 07:53 p.m.

    Hi Jeffrey. Your project really caught my interest as I teach Computer Science courses in the high school. There are so many future opportunities for students in Computer Science and Computer Science related fields, that I would really welcome the opportunity to work in a company that involves computing and computational thinking. I would be really interested to learn what methods you discovered within the scope of your project that would help others across the country to develop these kind of programs for teachers to participate in? What procedures or methods had the most impact of getting the externships started and how did you go about reaching out and convincing industry to participate? I know that you answer some of this to Sean Smith’s post, but I am curious if there are other considerations in starting externships outside of Iowa. Great project!

  • Icon for: Jeff Weld

    Jeff Weld

    Presenter
    May 14, 2015 | 01:23 p.m.

    Arthur, we place a number of teachers in computer science work settings, including network systems, modeling, graphic design, even coding. We have found the trade organizations and associations to be very valuable allies in recruiting businesses: the Iowa Business Council, the Technology Association, and such. Early on, a key step we took that I would recommend to others is to hold “think tanks” with groups of business leaders and groups of educators. Not only did they help us shape the program invaluably, they were also the early participants, eager since they’d bought in at the design stage. Then it grows concentrically from there. Thanks.

  • Icon for: Arthur Lopez

    Arthur Lopez

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2015 | 01:31 p.m.

    Thank you Jeffrey; really appreciate your response. I hope that I can contact you in the future as I proceed to do something similar in my region.

  • Icon for: Neil Plotnick

    Neil Plotnick

    Teacher
    May 14, 2015 | 11:35 p.m.

    When Grace Swanson said, “Connecting learning to purpose” I got excited. Motivation of students is difficult when the only thing teachers can say is, “You need to learn this because you may use it one day.” I worked in the corporate world for about 15 years when I transitioned to becoming a teacher. Often the most important things I draw upon are my experiences outside of the classroom. Nice work! I wonder how many other states are trying similar ideas.

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.

Icon for: Jeffrey Weld

JEFFREY WELD

IA Governor's STEM Advisory Council

Real World Externships for Teachers of Mathematics, Science, Technology
NSF Award #: DRL-1031784

Secondary school teachers of math, science, and technology spend six weeks full time in business and industry applying their content and process skills to real challenges of the private sector. Working shoulder-to-shoulder with researchers, plant managers, technicians, engineers, and skilled workers, teachers emerge more fully in command of the application of their subjects in the world of work. They return to school with new lessons and units that bring the curriculum to life. And they have lasting partnerships with private sector partners right in their towns. Businesses end the summer with problems solved, dollars saved, a legion of youth inspired to aspire, and a strong return on investment.