NC East Alliance

Golden LEAF awards NCEast Alliance $150,000 for STEM Northeast Network

July 10, 2019

The NCEast Alliance (NCEast or The Alliance) announced it will receive $150,000 from Golden LEAF over two years to support the development of a STEM Northeast Network in several northeastern North Carolina counties. The grant will support the design of a regional professional learning program that initially focuses on Career-Connected Project Based Learning (PBL) for  middle school teacher teams.

 Mr. Todd Borghesani, Esq. (https://www.nceast.org/alliance/staff/ ) has been retained by NCEast to lead the effort to develop a Series of one-day Career Connected PBL workshops in support of middle school educator teams from nine districts across the region. The Career Connected PBL Workshop Series will start with teaching basics of PBL: how to design projects and manage a PBL classroom. Teacher teams will advance their mastery, learning how to develop quality assessment practices. As the series concludes, teacher teams will have surveyed several industries and share an understanding of how to develop and lead development school-wide, multi-subject PBL projects . Teacher teams will be given the tools and knowledge to help their students acquire skills for the future workforce.

 Each workshop blends an industry theme--construction, manufacturing, marine trades, etc.--with PBL learning strategy and practice. Teacher teams meet and learn from regional industry experts, gaining valuable, authentic insight. Central to PBL project design is the authentic connection to our eastern region," said Todd Borghesani, Director of the STEM Northeast Network.

 PBL is centered around students learning through experiential “projects." The Buck Institute (www.buckinstitue.org) describes the PBL method of teaching through a key set of design elements knows as the “gold standard”. The gold standard includes a challenging problem or questions, sustained inquiry, authenticity, student voice and choice, reflection, critique and revision, and public product. The STEM Northeast Network hopes to focus on authenticity in Career-Connected PBL projects by getting students to solve problems that are authentic to industry.

 To support the PBL Workshop Series, a Career-Connected PBL Communications program will be developed. The communications program will involve regional PBL advocacy, PBL communication tools as well as advisory board management. It will support middle school PBL projects with regional industry professionals from a variety of industry sectors. "We know teachers want and need support to develop their practice so their students can succeed. With GLF's investment, we gain insight into rural district roadblocks to implementing effective professional learning," Borghesani emphasized.

 According to Mr. Borghesani, "We are better together. For rural school districts in northeast North Carolina, regional collaboration is not a choice, it is a necessity. Collaboration offers unique financial opportunities. Collaboration helps to elevate the voice of rural districts, uplift and empower isolated teachers, administrators, and students. We are fortunate to build upon the best practices of STEM East."

 

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