U.P. SMILE Offers Training, Tools to Teachers

A new professional development opportunity for Upper Peninsula 6th-12th grade teachers will help them integrate literacy into science, engineering and mathematics instruction and use technology to break down the silos between traditional content areas. The U.P. Project SMILE program partners Northern Michigan University’s Seaborg Center with four intermediate school districts across the Upper Peninsula. Its goal is to engage students in “three-dimensional learning.”  

Project SMILE provides stipends for 125 teachers to attend two summer technology sessions at each site and covers substitute costs for school-year sessions on research-based practices to improve student learning. Participants also will receive technology tools to take back to their classrooms: a 3D printer and laptop; and Vernier digital data probes and GIS software. The program is supported through a Math and Science Partnership grant from the Michigan Department of Education.

“There is a lot of talk about educational technology, but this program will explore what that really means and the instructional benefits of using technology in new ways,” said Chris Standerford, director of the Seaborg Center. “At the first summer session, teachers will build their own 3D printers from scratch and learn 3D design and the computer code that supports it. In the second week, they will gain experience gathering meaningful environmental data using Vernier probes, and then integrate that data with GIS technology. There’s a big push nationwide for both coding and GIS expertise right now, and we aim to provide teachers an opportunity to explore these areas with their students.”

The summer sessions at NMU are scheduled Aug. 1-5 and 8-12. The school-year training includes an immersive Next Generation Science Exemplars  (NGSX) web-based system. According to its website, NGSX engages teachers in working with the practices and disciplinary core ideas in the National Research Council's Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards. Three additional days will be devoted to integrating literacy in math and science education. Participation in all components is required.

The four ISD partners in U.P. SMILE are: Eastern U.P., Western U.P., Northwoods and Dickinson-Iron. NMU, Michigan Tech, Lake Superior State University and Bay College will provide instructional support. 

For more information, call 227-2002. 

Prepared By
Kristi Evans
News Director