SASTA

Building a Professional Learning Community in STEM

Posted by Tegan McClean

on 04/10/2018

We all know that our colleagues are our greatest resource, and at The Grove Education Centre this resource is being used with exciting results!

The Grove Education Centre, a special school in Woodville, South Australia provides a supportive learning environment for students with a verified intellectual disability and associated complex needs.

The Principal, Ms Nikola Haskell and staff have embarked on a professional learning journey to develop new understandings in STEM and apply it to their classroom, in order to raise student engagement and achievement. They believe that every child can engage in the critical and creative thinking that is part of STEM learning and as a school, they wanted to work towards developing a STEM Scope and Sequence linked to Australian Curriculum.

Earlier this year, a core group of three teachers began work with Kate Dilger, the Education Officer from the South Australian Science Teachers Association. Over four sessions, the teachers developed an understanding of STEM teaching and Learning and skills in planning effective lessons for their students. 

Using what they had learned, these teachers then hosted a STEM presentation on the first pupil free day of Term 2 for their staff and wider partnership. Below is their feedback about the learning and how it was received:

“It went incredibly well. We had feedback from the partnership - particularly as it was aimed at special education teachers for our students who have complex needs. We shared your resources, information and planning templates, which all staff at The Grove are now using and sharing. I also shared lots of video footage of the junior classes engaging in the challenges that we created in our sessions with you, using the Engineering Design process and how we differentiate it for each student and their needs. The design challenge we facilitated with the staff on the presentation day was a huge hit and we have feedback that many of them would be doing it with their students in their classes last Term. 

As a school we are building a collection of STEM challenges in our common drive to share amongst each other, as well as sharing footage of teachers teaching STEM, at staff meetings. We have already had one session of this and it was great to see STEM happening from juniors to seniors, meeting a wide variety of student learning needs.  

As a STEM PLC we are now working on assessment of these challenges, particularly targeting creativity and critical and creative thinking to which a few teachers are trialling different things which we will share later with each other.”

- Carly Tate, Teacher

The Grove 3    
The Grove 1   The Grove 2