WW Teaching Fellows Meet at Professional Development Program
At a professional development program 350 miles away from home, Kelly Dine TF ‘13 felt a surge of pride as she heard another educator introduce themselves as a WW Teaching Fellow.
“It was just so cool to hear another teacher state, ‘I’m also a WWTF,’” says Mrs. Dine. “I knew right away that Sam and I would be able to relate on a different level than other instructors because of the unique teacher preparation that we’ve both experienced.”
Samuel Thomas TF ’15 was equally grateful to encounter another teacher with a similar background. “Kelly and I were able to have valuable conversations about working in high-need schools and could immediately identify with the joys and pains we shared with one another.”
Mrs. Dine, a WW Teaching Fellow from Ohio, and Mr. Thomas, from New Jersey, met at a two-week Project Lead the Way (PLTW) biomedical science workshop in Maryland. Both educators are teaching the PLTW project-based curriculum at their respective schools and attended the training to go through the material and troubleshoot the activities with other educators from around the country.
By working through the labs before they administer them in their classrooms, PLTW teachers are able to get a preview of how they might work with their students. “This allows us to foresee misconceptions and difficulties our students might run into when they complete the activity,” says Mr. Thomas. “We are also able to discuss best practices and alternatives for each activity with other teachers and PLTW master teachers.”
The PLTW curriculum places an emphasis on real-world, hands-on curriculum to engage students. For Mrs. Dine, the problem-based design of the curriculum allows her to draw on her past experience as a an officer in the U.S. Navy, as well as a registered nurse and sports coach, to make science come to life.
“My students love the high volume of medical-themed activities and labs that are all real-world learning,” she says. “For instance, they attempt to identify missing persons by measuring and analyzing a skeleton’s bones and performing gel electrophoresis to separate DNA fragments. They really hone their critical thinking skills in relevant and meaningful ways.”
Mr. Thomas relied on the guidance and support of the WW Teaching Fellowship when changing careers to become a teacher. He is excited to teach the PLTW classes and looks forward to seeing “the relationships I will build with my students and the observable progress of my students over the school year.”
Designing hands-on and project-based activities and curriculum, like that from PLTW, is a large part of the preparation WW Teaching Fellows get at their partner universities. Before becoming teachers of record at some of the nation’s highest-need schools, Fellows complete a master’s program centered around a full-year clinical placement in a local school. The reimagined master’s program, clinical placement, and ongoing mentoring and support allow Fellows to enter their first year of teaching with all the tools they need to deliver meaningful and engaging STEM content to their students.
“WWTF fully prepared me to work with high-need students,” says Mrs. Dine “They are a really special, multi-faceted population of kids who deal with a number of unique challenges on a daily basis. I just love my students, and I am so happy to be able to bring my love of STEM and the medical world to them.”
Kelly Dine teaches all four levels of the Project Lead the Way Biomedical Science Program at North High School in Akron, Ohio. Her classes include 10th-12th graders. Samuel Thomas teaches biology and two Project Lead the Way classes at Hoboken High School in Hoboken, N.J.