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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

This past spring, ASSET’s professional development (PD) specialists traveled to Idaho—specifically Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston and Boise State University in Boise—to conduct three-day PD sessions for school district administrators, teachers, preservice teachers, and librarians. The onsite course, Lay a Strong Foundation for STEM Teaching and Learning in Your Classroom: Unlock Student Potential through Hands-on Inquiry, included an optional virtual component, which was offered throughout August, September, and October and will wrap up November 13.

Participants in the onsite course gained a broader understanding of what it takes to build a strong STEM philosophy and common language among educators as they

  • considered characteristics of a holistic approach to STEM;
  • engaged in deep thinking about personal definitions of STEM in respect to academic and lifelong learning outcomes;
  • thought about leader roles to help change teaching and learning cultures to embrace integrated STEM; and
  • discussed the importance of connecting STEM teaching and learning to community, work, and global issues.

In addition, participants completed ASSET’s two-day Foundations for Inquiry course, where they learned how to implement essential features of inquiry-based teaching while examining their own teaching and learning practices. They explored the essential features of and misconceptions about inquiry as well as an instructional view of process skills that support implementing Idaho Science Standard 1: Nature of Science (K–12). They also engaged in reading, writing, speaking, and listening activities grounded in science content on the causes of seasons on Earth, addressing state standards for English language arts and literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects (K–12).

The 12-hour virtual component of the program consists of three phases, during which participants engage in educational articles, videos, and case studies; examine their practice to purposefully implement shifts in their own classroom or organization setting; and post reflections of their learning with evidence and artifacts from their settings (such as student work samples, planning documents, etc.). 

 “I was encouraged by what the teacher (in the video) said: ‘Evidence-based thinking opens the door for MORE participation,’” says one participant. “I will use this to encourage and direct my students in positive ways, letting them know it is for their benefit.”

ASSET STEM Education embraces a holistic and transdisciplinary understanding of STEM—defining STEM as an interconnected discipline that seamlessly integrates with all academic subjects to increase student engagement and achievement and foster 21st-century skills. If you’d like to learn more about ASSET’s onsite and virtual PD offerings for STEM teaching and learning and Foundations for Inquiry, contact Maleea Johnson at