Meet Partners D.C. Public Schools and I-STEM Resource Network

September 27, 2016

Over the course of four webinars, partners from the 100Kin10 Networked Improvement Community will share their work exploring a different facet of improving K-12 engineering and what they’ve learned in the process. A collaborative approach to running experiments, the Networked Improvement Community enables organizations to develop and test practical solutions to problems under a shared topic area.

Here we introduce partners Margaret Harrison from D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) and Jenny Hicks from I-STEM Resource Network (I-STEM), who collaborated on a project that aims to make it easier for educators to integrate engineering across subjects.

Tell me about your Networked Improvement Community project. What is your goal?

Margaret, DCPS:
Our goal is to boost teachers’ ability to integrate engineering into their instruction across disciplines. To meet that goal we are developing a rubric that teachers can use to assess what good practices look like in integrating engineering. We are aligning the rubric to classroom videos so that teachers can see core concepts modeled.

Why is having a rubric so important to integrating engineering effectively?

Jenny, I-STEM:
A lot of people see engineering as a cure-all that integrates math and science, but it’s not that simple. Teachers are often trained in pedagogy over content, and math educators in particular tend to not know the science. You have to be very intentional about that integration, and very knowledgeable.

Because the average teacher does not have that content background, our job through the rubric and video is to provide them with the proper guide so that if you were to ask a teacher what part of a particular lesson is integrated they would be able to respond.


Walk me through your process. Where are you now?

Jenny, I-STEM:

Our first goal was to come to an agreement as a community of practitioners about what integration looks like, both on paper and in video. As a group we aligned on an initial set of points to include in our rubric that includes:

* Helping students make connections between content areas
* Allowing for deep thinking and problem-solving
* Authentically reinforcing needed literacy/mathematics/science skills
* Including a real life problem or scenario

We hope to refine the practices in our rubric and make sure that they are both realistic and at the right grain size.

We are also thinking about how to integrate video clips to find key moments that demonstrate those points.

We would love to have a bank of videos that could be aligned to the rubric and that way teachers could look at different grade bands.

For example, a video for lower and upper elementary and one for middle school that shows good examples of integration.

How do you hope to implement the rubric in your work?

Margaret, DCPS:
My goal is to add the rubric and videos to our school district’s online research hub.

Jenny, I-STEM:
In addition to posting on our website, I hope to use the rubric in our professional development with teachers and to lead a training where we look at what integration looks like.