TDSP General Studies staff had a special guest at their staff meeting this week- Mr. David Seay, formerly the Middle School Math teacher at TDSP. Mr. Seay is a Teacher Mentor for The Center for Initiatives in Jewish Education, (The CIJE), training teachers on ways to increase math and science skills while exercising the brain and having fun.
Mr. Seay led the first part of the professional development (PD)session, introducing the teachers to games they can play with eight-sided dice that have high numbers on them, like 18 or 20. Students can roll multiple dice, and then pick a card that tells them what to do with the two numbers (multiply, divide, etc). The games become more complicated as the students get older, with middle school students creating and solving equations from rolling 6 dice at one time!
The Math PD was followed by a Science PD, given by Dr. Catherine Owuor, Middle School Specialist and Program Coordinator for The CIJE. The aim of the science PD was to show teachers how they can incorporate project-based learning and design thinking in their classes, allowing students to work together to find innovative solutions to problems. “And students choosing topics to research and being engaged is really incredible to see.”
For this session, the problem the teachers needed to solve was space waste. You might not know this, but outer space is full of floating waste, things like busted satellites and other spaceship debris, all drifting through the atmosphere up there. The teachers were tasked with creating a prototype that would get rid of space waste, using random materials, and to come up with ways that their prototype would work. The unit teaches the users to go through a design process, with hands on experiential learning.
Dr. Owuor has been working with teachers at TDSP for a few years already, most recently assisting Ms. Yarissa Valdez on the science fair. This PD was the first CIJE PD for this school year. Dr. Malka Ungar will be using The CIJE modules to provide a hands-on learning experience to accompany the learning units of the TDSP science curriculum. Other upcoming projects include designing a candle that will last for seven days. “It’s exciting to work with a science expert,” said Dr. Ungar of Dr. Owuor, who holds a PHD in neuroscience from Yale University. “And students choosing topics to research and being engaged is really incredible to see.”