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Posted on March 15, 2016

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Faculty Gather for First Annual STEM Network Conference

On February 25th and 26th, 40 STEM faculty from across California gathered on the Cal Poly-Pomona campus for the first annual Reading Apprenticeship Community College STEM Network Winter Conference. The event was made possible by a grant from the Leona M. & Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust with the aim of increasing the retention and success of all community college STEM students.

Nika Hogan, SLI’s National College Coordinator, described the goal of the conference as “a strong follow up for educators in our network who have participated in the Reading Apprenticeship Faculty 101 online course or the summer 2015 3-day seminar, as well as a nice launching point for new network members who hadn’t participated in Reading Apprenticeship professional learning yet. Most importantly, we wanted to establish a strong sense of safety and productive exchange with this amazing group of practitioners as a community of readers, educators, and learners.”

The participants, who ranged from Reading Apprenticeship novices to experienced leaders, spent two full days in general sessions and workshops. These included:

  1. Viewing and debriefing a new video case: “Making Sense of Physics Lab” which prompted observations such as “Students were practicing real scientific ways of thinking, using phrases like, ‘I’m assuming that…’ and making real hypotheses.”
  2. Workshops led by fellow STEM network colleagues on topics ranging from assessment to working with student tutors, to helping students comprehend graphic information in science, to dealing productively with student misconceptions.
  3. Significant time for reading professional articles and planning lessons with colleagues eliciting feedback such as “collaborating with colleagues in my discipline around lesson planning showed me that we math faculty can work together to plan engaging lessons within the Reading Apprenticeship framework without it being a matter of sacrificing time for content.”

Perhaps the most unique aspect of this conference was that after two intense days of learning and working together, participants left feeling energized. One participant captured a sense of this by saying, “I hadn’t realized how isolated I was from authentic sources of engaged, ethical, creative, enthusiastic, intelligent, FUNCTIONAL community until I was physically immersed in one.”

Highlights from the conference have been added to the STEM Network site. Visit the site today for session overviews and resources, including PowerPoints, diagrams, and more!

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