Creative Constructor
Lab Virtual
Leadership Exchange
at ISTELive 21
Edtech Advocacy &
Policy Summit

Challenging Educators to Create Engaging and Empowering Learning Experiences

Listen and learn

Listen and learn : Lecture

Tuesday, June 25, 4:15–5:15 pm
Location: Room 124

Dr. Paula Leach   Dr. Virginia Lewis   Stephanie Playton  
Learn about a year-long professional development experience for upper elementary and middle school teachers. The model includes integration of technology, problem-based learning and global collaboration to promote workforce skills (e.g. collaboration and communication) in the classroom to improve student achievement through increased student engagement.

Audience: Teachers, Professional developers, Technology coordinators/facilitators
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Windows, Android, iOS
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Focus: Professional learning
Topic: Teacher education
Grade level: PK-12
Subject area: STEM/STEAM
ISTE Standards: For Educators:
  • Pursue professional interests by creating and actively participating in local and global learning networks.
  • Use collaborative tools to expand students' authentic, real-world learning experiences by engaging virtually with experts, teams and students, locally and globally.
  • Foster a culture where students take ownership of their learning goals and outcomes in both independent and group settings.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

The demands of workforce needs continue to have a strong emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). While schools and districts try to prepare and implement these initiatives, our teachers still lack the professional development and therefore, students lack the learning experiences. Global competencies are also at large demand in the workforce. Students need learning experiences that facilitate skills like collaboration and communication, but include experiences that go beyond classroom walls to foster a global education. This presentation will share how a group of educators participated in a professional development experience to help them provide STEM and global education learning experiences in their classrooms. The purpose of this presentation is two-fold: 1) To share and describe a successful professional development model for other educators and educational leaders to learn from; and 2) share examples of how the tools and resources were used to provide these valuable experiences to teachers and their students (i.e. classroom implementations with students). The year-long professional development experience that will be described includes grade 3-8 teachers challenged to make incremental changes in their classrooms by creating integrated STEM and global education learning experiences to engage and empower their students; however, any participants focused on K-12 could benefit from the presentation and project findings. Since this project was done with teachers from multiple school districts and schools, it will provide conference participants with a diversity of ways to integrate STEM and global education learning experiences based on what resources they have available to them in their own schools.
The professional development that will be described, began as a five-day face-to-face workshop where teachers were encouraged to join as teams (e.g. grade level). The objectives for this teacher learning experience included the integration of technology, pedagogy that supported alternative assessments (problem-based learning), and global collaboration to promote critical and creative thinking, collaboration, communication, and citizenship in the classroom and improve student achievement in the classroom through increased student engagement. Problem-based learning (PBL) nurtures interdisciplinary learning experiences (Anderson, 2007; Clark & Ernst, 2007; Marshall, Horton, & Austin-Wade, 2007; Paige, Lloyd, & Chartres, 2008; Park-Rogers, Volkmann, & Abell, 2007) and offers a way to motivate and integrate authentic STEM learning and help develop students' higher order thinking skills as they participate in solving problems drawn from real life situations. In addition, the incorporation of alternative assessment complements PBL by requiring learners to be engaged in real-life problems, while providing opportunities for experiences to include an invested audience beyond the classroom, higher levels of thinking, and use of various forms of communication (Martin-Kniep, 2000). During the face-to-face professional development, teachers were immersed in problem-based learning activities that involved the use of various technologies, including littleBits (, and that connected them will professionals outside of the classroom using tools like Skype and Google Hangout (i.e. We Skyped with directors from littleBits). Case studies with littleBits reveal experiences that include an organic approach to meeting engineering needs through projects integrated into curriculum content, while supporting classroom discussion and problem solving (Hammill, 2014; McLenlland-Crawley, 2015; Wilkinson, 2014). Research shows actively engaging teachers in these design and creativity projects help them develop conceptual understanding and inquiry skills that are difficult to teach (Crismond, 2001; Fleer 2000; Sadler, Barab, & Scott, 2007). By using the STEM tool, littleBits, teachers were exposed on how to further integrate it into their classrooms to support content learning with the use of other technology tools. Technology tools such as Seesaw for online journaling (, Newsela for integrating non-fiction reading (, and Google Suite tools (e.g. Google Classroom, Google Suite “add-ons”) were used as examples to engage and empower students. Since the teachers were actively engaged in the learning experiences, tools used for alternative assessment will also be shared (i.e. digital peer reviews and rubrics). These technology tools and examples will be shared so that conference participants understand how these could be and were explored and integrated into the professional development, then later into classrooms.
While this 5-days of face-to-face professional development with teachers created a learning community, that community was further nurtured through the exploration of global learning strategies and tools that could be implemented into classrooms. While some examples and experiences were shared over the face-to-face portion of the professional development, a book study was also conducted over five online sessions where teachers interacted with each other in a variety of methods and tools through discussion of “Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds: Move to Global Collaboration One Step at a Time”. Global competition is a reality for students in today’s world. Upon graduation, they will need to be ready to compete in the global marketplace, be strong problem-solvers, and be able to collaborate globally in various manners (Lindsay & Davis, 2013). Powerful results have been documented using such communications to collaborate beyond the classroom walls to empower students to connect and create with other students across physical, cultural, and socioeconomic boundaries (Kist, 2012), providing them global learning experiences. Participants in this session will learn about different global projects our teachers participated in, as well as projects they can participate in (e.g. World MOON Project, Global Read Aloud), tools that facilitate global education (e.g. Doodle Poll, Wikis, Flipgrid), and examples and outcomes of some of the experiences our teachers were able to provide to their students.
The grant funded project’s evaluation will help present evidence of the successes through various testimonies of the teachers, including examples of classroom implementations. As a result, educators that attend this session should be able to understand how problem-based learning can be an effective pedagogy to implement STEM, learn about tools for alternative forms of assessment, how learning as a community of learners can support initiatives in STEM and global education, and various levels and variety of global education opportunities available for educators.


Description of face-to-face professional development (problem-based learning, alternative assessment, technologies, global education) (10 minutes)
Participants will learn about the professional development design
Participants will learn about tools and resources used
Participants will learn how these tools and resources were used to design lessons for teachers to experience

Evidence of success from summer professional development (10 minutes)
Participants will learn about what the summer outcomes and testimonies of teachers

Description of the online book study (10 minutes)
Participants will learn about how the book study was used to facilitate a learning community
Participants will learn about tools teachers used during the online book study, as well as “practice” assignments for global education

Description of Teacher Implementation Examples (10 minutes)
Participants will learn how littleBits were used to create PBL lessons
Participants will learn about global education projects that were implemented and their outcomes

Evidence of success from overall project (10 minutes)
Participants will learn about what teacher participants say about their experiences

Questions and Answers (10 minutes)

Supporting research

Anderson, J. (2007). Enriching the teaching of biology with mathematical concepts. The American Biology Teacher, 69(4), 205-209.[205:ETTOBW]2.0.CO;2
Boe, T. (1998). The next step for educators and the technology industry: Investing in teachers. Educational Technology, 29(3), 39-44.
Barell, J. (2007). Problem-based learning: An inquiry approach. Thousands Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Clark, A. C., & Ernst, J. V. (2007). A model for the integration of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The Technology Teacher, 66(4), 24-26.
Costantino, T. (2002). Problem-based learning: A concrete approach to teaching aesthetics. Studies in Art Education 43(3), 219-231.
Crismond, D. (2001). Learning and using science ideas when doing investigate-and-redesign tasks: A study of naive, novice, and expert designers doing constrained and scaffolded design work. Journal of Research in Science Teaching 38 (7): 791–820.
Fleer, M. (2000). Working technologically: Investigations into how young children design and make during technology education. International Journal of Technology and Design Education 10 (1): 43–59.
Guhlin, M. (1996). Stage a well designed Saturday session and they will come! Technology Connection, 3(3), 13-14.
Guskey, T.R. (2003). What makes professional development effective? Phi Delta Kappan, 84(10), 748-750.
Hammill, T. (2014). Supervisor of Educational Technology and Curriculum Services. Greensburg, PA: Westmoreland Intermediate Unit.
Harvey, J., & Purnell, S. (1995, March). Technology and teacher professional development. Report prepared for the Office of Educational Technology, U.S. Department of Education. Santa Monica, CA: Rand Corporation.
Hawkins, J., & MacMillan, K. (1993). So what are teachers doing with this stuff? Electronic Learning, 13(2), 26.
Hmelo-Silver, C. E. & Barrows, H. S. (2006). Goals and strategies of a problem-based learning facilitator. Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-based Learning, 1. 21-39.
Kinnaman, D.E. (1990). Staff development: How to build your winning team. Technology and Learning, 11(2).
Kist, W. (2012). The Global School : Connecting Classrooms and Students Around the World (1). Bloomington, Indiana, US: Solution Tree Press. Retrieved from
Lindsay, J., & Davis, V. (2012). Flattening classrooms, engaging minds. Boston, MA: Pearson.
Loucks-Horsley, S., Hewson, P., Love, N., and Stiles, K. (1998) Designing professional development for teachers of science and mathematics. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, Inc.
Marshall, J. Horton, B. & Austin-Wade, J. (2007). Giving meaning to the numbers. Science Teacher, 74(2), 36-41.
Martin-Kniep, G. O. (2000). Becoming a better teacher: Eight innovations that work. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
McLelland-Crawley, R. (2015). Middle School Gifted and Talented Facilitator Community Middle School. NJ: West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District.
Nugent, J., Smith, W., Cook, L., & Bell, M. (2015). 21st century citizen science: From global awareness to global contribution. Science Teacher, (November), 34–38.
Paige, K., Lloyd, D., & Chartres, M. (2008). Moving towards transdisciplinarity: An ecological sustainable focus for science and mathematics pre-service education in the primary/middle years. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 36(1), 19-33.
Park-Rogers, M., Volkmann, M., Abell, S. (2007). Science and mathematics: A natural connection. Science and Children, 45(2), 60-61
Ripp, P. (2016). Passionate learners. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis
Sadler, T., S. Barab, & B. Scott. (2007). What do students gain by engaging in socio-scientific inquiry? Research in Science Education 37(4): 371–91.
Wilkinson, M. (2014). Math & Science Teacher. Bronx, NY: Fieldston Ethical Culture, Lower School.
Willis, J. (2011). The Brain-Based Benefits of Writing for Math and Science Learning. [Web log post]. Retrieved from
Willis, J. (2012). Executive function, arts integration and joyful learning (Part 6 of 7). [Web log post]. Retrieved from

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Dr. Paula Leach, Longwood ITTIP
Dr. Virginia Lewis, Longwood University
Stephanie Playton, Longwood ITTIP

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