Port Washington School District teachers this summer designed interdisciplinary activities and curriculum projects for the coming school year.
Five teachers were trained in a program called Project Lead the Way, where they learned how to use a project-based approach on the new STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) curriculum.
The curriculum focuses on students’ applying their knowledge of a subject to identify problems and find a unique solution, rather than “receiving instruction in a question-and-answer, right-or-wrong learning environment,” according to a news release.
“The district is extremely excited to bring this STEM initiative to our elementary schools,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kathleen Mooney said. “PLTW represents exactly the type of project-based, differentiated instruction we are seeking to enrich learning for all our students and provides additional depth to our curriculum.
“During the program, the teachers studied how kindergartners can design and build a cast for a broken arm. They were also shown an example of third-graders using their knowledge of simple machines to create more complex machines to get an escaped tiger back into the zoo.’’
Dr. Wafa Westervelt, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and assessment, said: “PLTW enables students to use a variety of mechanisms, technology resources and materials to apply learning in an innovative manner. It is all about the application of concepts and skills gained across the disciplines in a constructivist manner.”
The curriculum also incorporates robotics and computer coding components, the release said, “but just as importantly, it’s interdisciplinary and can be applied to areas of the curriculum not generally associated with STEM, such as English and social studies.”
“PLTW empowers our youngest students to lead their own learning and develop higher-order thinking skills,” said Mooney. “They solve age-appropriate problems that interest them and have a profound impact on the world around them. This dovetails perfectly with our educational vision of preparing our students for the future.”
The release said that the teachers who were trained in the PLTW curriculum will pass along their training to interested teachers during the 2016-17 school year.