April 17, 2013
Faced with new standards and decreased access to professional development offerings, more and more teachers are taking a do-it-yourself approach to professional learning. They’re scouring the Web for quality content, often using Google to find materials.
Unfortunately for these proactive professionals, many initiatives designed to address the new standards have not yet produced the large collections of aligned materials needed to effectively implement a new curriculum. The quality of content found in a broad search of the Internet varies, and educators are spending much of their limited planning time slogging through content that hasn’t been evaluated or slick vendor sites designed to convince them that an out-of-the-box solution is just a $450 check away.
At the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM), we recognize that getting digital content delivered to teachers—and their students—is imperative. More importantly, we recognize that teachers need focused, well-curated collections of digital content they can return to, and the contextual materials that will help them use that digital content in a face-to-face classroom right away.
NCSSM has been producing digital content for its residential and distance classrooms for years, and invites educators to benefit from these materials at no charge. STEM@NCSSM is the entry point to this collection of lessons, animations, videos and documents gleaned from NCSSM courses, and feature a variety of professional development sessions conducted at NCSSM over the past few years.
The collection features content-area lessons for content newly repositioned in the mathematics Common Core, like this lesson on recursion, as well as materials which support Essential Standards in science, like interactive animations that explicate how the volume of a gas changes when temperature changes or demonstrate how plant respiration works. While most people know NCSSM as a high school, STEM@NCSSM also includes materials to teach science and mathematics in elementary classrooms, like this lesson in forces and motion.
The NCSSM Distance Education YouTube site hosts the STEM@NCSSM video content, so teachers can find high-definition videos from NCSSM courses and professional development offerings. Teachers can find videos on subjects ranging from dissection to the intersection of music and science to over nine hours of calculus. NCSSM digital content covers hard-to-teach video content, and gives students and teachers the freedom to explore even after the classroom bell has rung. With over 490,000 visits to our video resources alone, we know people are watching!
But digital assets aren’t the only offering NCSSM has for schools. Since 1994, NCSSM faculty have offered honors and Advanced Placement courses in hard-to-staff subjects through interactive videoconference. Even small, rural schools can offer advanced courses in genetics and biotechnology, forensic anthropology, statistics, physics, and a variety of other subjects, giving students opportunities that might not otherwise be available. These live courses often result in digital assets, but the true value added is a live teacher who determines each student’s academic needs and crafts an instructional plan to help that student succeed. NCSSM Online offers advanced students the opportunity to join the NCSSM community for their junior and senior years of high school, without leaving home.
The technology for extending teaching and learning exists. The key is to provide teachers with the quality they need in an easy-to-use format so they can spend less time searching, and more time teaching. NCSSM is working to build content that helps them do just that.