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Friday, 07 March 2014 14:34

PLTW Pilot Program 'LAUNCH' Continues In Second Semester With Positive Initial Feedback

By | News

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Lake Avenue Elementary was one of 42 schools in the country selected to pilot Project Lead The Way’s (PLTW) LAUNCH curriculum, in which second-grade teacher Nancy Ferguson now writes ‘engineering’ as a subject on the chalkboard along with science, math, English and writing.

With only a handful of classrooms participating in the experimental format to enhance science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) understanding at the elementary level, Ferguson said the main complaint she receives is from parents who can't get child included in the program.

The curriculum is based on introducing formatted modules to the classroom that begin with a reading component, then progresses through tiered problem solving activities, and ending with a project or ‘build’ .

The modules, which take 10-12 hours to complete during the course of the semester, allow the classroom to apply lessons from multiple subjects into a problem-solving activity, Ferguson said and added that it’s a curriculum that she would like to see continue next year. "We don’t just talk about math in isolation," she said. "We apply it."

Six classrooms, one in each grade level, have been leading their students through such modules since November to stir interest in STEM learning as well as another way to reach current common core standards.

This is the opportunity where the "playing field is leveled" for students and teachers, as Instructional Technologist as Saratoga Springs School District Jim Nair said. In areas where students may struggle in one subject, they may have a strength in others that will aid them in completing a project with their partner. All the while, the role of the teacher is been changed into that of a facilitator.

 "It can be a little chaotic in the classroom, but the energy is directed at solving the problems," he said.

The topics for the modules this year include Structure and Function of Materials, Forces, Sound and Light, Flight, Energy and Robotics.

"We are asking students to branch out in new ways and allow themselves to learn from their mistakes with the teacher acting as mentor and facilitator," Nair said. "The ongoing goal of this exciting pilot is to allow students to listen, collaborate, investigate and engineer solutions to problems using math, science and technology."

Lake Avenue Elementary is the only school in the Northeast piloting the program. Through its participation, Nair aim to help shape what the program will look like as it rolls out at other schools in the future.

Nair said that the program has so far generated a lot positive feedback from teachers, students and parents in addition to comments for where the project could be improved in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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