2576 Views (as of 05/2023)
  1. Amanda Gunning
  2. https://www.mercy.edu/users/agunning
  3. Associate Professor, Co-Director
  5. Mercy College, Mercy College Center for STEM Education
  1. Richard MacLeish
  2. Middle School Teacher and Department Chair
  4. Elmsford Union Free School District
  1. Anjinette Piccirella
  2. Middle School Teacher
  4. Yonkers Public Schools
  1. Julianna Puma Shallo
  2. High School Teacher
  4. Elmsford Union Free School District
  1. Anny Vanegas
  2. Elementary Teacher
  4. City School District of New Rochelle

Preparing STEM Master Teacher Fellows in the Greater New York City Area

NSF Awards: 1758317

2021 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades K-6, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, All Age Groups

During 2020, Mercy College STEM Master Teacher Fellows experienced a graduate course in STEM Teacher Leadership. In this course, the Fellows successfully implemented research-based pedagogy methods to explore ways to support STEM learning in their K-12 classes. A major feature of the course was teachers were grouped vertically in professional learning communities (VPLCs) for this work.  In this way, elementary, middle, and high school teachers worked together on a common method to apply, within the same content area, appropriate for their grade level. The methods were chosen based on a review of research articles selected by teachers. These vertical professional learning community groups worked together for weeks in an iterative cycle of planning, teaching and virtual observation of one another. Through a research-based feedback protocol, teachers provided and received feedback that supported growth and sharing of their work in their group and with their students. In this collaborative setting, Fellows established a STEM community of practice that pushed them to take risks in their content classrooms and deepen their use of integrated pedagogies. Furthermore, the course used a social justice lens for work and the Fellows demonstrated increased agency in their schools as they worked with other teachers and administrators to promote STEM integration beyond their classroom walls. Despite the extraordinary challenges of the pandemic, these Master Teacher Fellows were able to implement new strategies for teaching STEM while growing professionally and personally, and while helping colleagues. Fellows identified as teacher leaders as they navigated online teaching, issues of accessibility, and unpredictable teaching schedules. Their resilience shows us that developing collaborative, vertical professional networks strengthens Fellows' leadership even in times of crisis.

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Discussion from the 2021 STEM For All Video Showcase (15 posts)
  • Icon for: PATRICK HONNER


    May 11, 2021 | 09:01 a.m.


    Having teachers working vertically sounds wonderful. I'm envious! Can you give some examples of the concepts or the methods that unified the these vertical groups of elementary, middle school, and high school teachers?

  • Icon for: Amanda Gunning

    Amanda Gunning

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor, Co-Director
    May 11, 2021 | 03:10 p.m.

    Hi Patrick, 

    Thanks for your comment. I will let some of the Fellows also respond, but the way we structure our vertical teaming is around two themes - one is a research-based pedagogy method and the other is a content area. Teachers collaboratively select both for their work.  You can see from the brief snippet of Julianna's group's work that they examined student engagement and accountable talk practices, but this grew out of applying a socioscientific approach as a method with the content topic of genetics. 

    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Seema Rivera
  • Icon for: Anny Vanegas

    Anny Vanegas

    Elementary Teacher
    May 11, 2021 | 09:18 p.m.

    Hi Patrick,

    In my VPLC group we studied math problem solving skills, specifically when dealing with word problems. It was interesting and beneficial to see how this concept is taught through out the grades. My group was also able to understand the math expectations across elementary, middle, and high school. 

    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Amanda Gunning
  • Icon for: Anjinette Piccirella

    Anjinette Piccirella

    Middle School Teacher
    May 14, 2021 | 10:18 p.m.

    Hi Patrick,

    In my VPLC group, we studied the use of virtual field trips with a focus on the concept of energy. This was something that team felt was very important and was lost with the pandemic. As a 7th/8th grade teacher, it was wonderful to see how energy was being taught in the lower grades and what knowledge and experience they are coming to middle school having experienced. I am hoping to continue this dialogue with teachers at the building level in my school come September.

  • Icon for: Marion Usselman

    Marion Usselman

    Associate Director, and Principal Research Scientist
    May 11, 2021 | 11:40 a.m.

    Thanks for your inspiring video.  I'm curious about your evaluation, and whether you are monitoring the level of interaction that you get between teachers in different grade-bands.  Are they forming social networks that extend beyond the course?  

  • Icon for: Richard MacLeish

    Richard MacLeish

    Middle School Teacher and Department Chair
    May 12, 2021 | 08:44 p.m.

    As one of the fellows in this program, I can share that we have indeed made connections that have lasted beyond the formal classes. We are in touch often and use each other as resources and sounding boards. 

  • Icon for: Amanda Gunning

    Amanda Gunning

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor, Co-Director
    May 11, 2021 | 03:11 p.m.

    This is a great question! We have not specifically monitored that, although we have asked in focus groups about their interaction with other Fellows, generally. But that is a great idea for future research, thanks. 

  • Icon for: Seema Rivera

    Seema Rivera

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 12, 2021 | 09:00 a.m.

    Great video, Amanda!  I love that all of this work was done through a social justice lens!

  • Icon for: Nadia Mills

    Nadia Mills

    May 12, 2021 | 10:43 a.m.

    Thanks for sharing your work! I really like your VPLC model and how it shows the importance of teachers collaborating and learning the content that comes before and after their grade level. 

  • Icon for: Michael Ferrara

    Michael Ferrara

    May 12, 2021 | 02:37 p.m.

    Great video (and, of course, great work), Amanda!  The testimonials from your Master Teachers were really moving.  

  • Icon for: Khyati Sanjana

    Khyati Sanjana

    Senior Manager
    May 12, 2021 | 10:37 p.m.

    Great work Amanda. Vertical alignment lays a solid foundation by addressing misconceptions and ensuring a grasp of the content. I am curious about the research-based pedagogy method that you mentioned earlier. Can you elaborate on how that guided your work?

  • Icon for: Amanda Gunning

    Amanda Gunning

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor, Co-Director
    May 14, 2021 | 10:42 a.m.

    The research base was actually selected by the teachers. We helped them recall their library research skills to each find research articles on methods they were interested in exploring. Then each group reviewed the articles selected by their groupmates and came to a consensus on which article and method they would use. For example, a group may have brought forth articles on inquiry, use of apps in the classroom, using graphic organizers and implementing accountable talk. After all group members read the articles, they would discuss to decide which one method they would use for their lesson design. We felt it was important to provide teacher choice for selecting the method to try out, but also be research-driven as effective. We encouraged teachers to explore methods they had not specifically tried before or were not yet comfortable implementing. We situated this process as an opportunity for personal growth and expansion of their teaching toolkits. 

  • Icon for: Brian Drayton

    Brian Drayton

    May 13, 2021 | 01:03 p.m.

    Very encouraging work!   I have a question about long-term effects:  In the video, a teacher says that she hopes her building [leadership] will allow her to continue working collaboratively, as your program enabled her to do.   The willingnes of one's school to take receptive and constructive steps to enable teacher leaders to both lead and to keep growing — it's a key to successful teacher growth.  Does your program do anything to helpl school leadership welcome and deploy teacher leadership?


  • Icon for: Amanda Gunning

    Amanda Gunning

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor, Co-Director
    May 14, 2021 | 10:52 a.m.

    Brian, this is a great question and one that I have personally been ruminating on possible solutions. While each district presents unique challenges, we have several Fellows in a particularly tough district and I have been thinking about what entry points and resources for change may exist. I feel like it is a difficult position for me, as I do not feel that I hold any sway over administrative decisions. We are 'friendly' with administration, by way of providing grant-funded opportunities, but in no way do we have any input to the district structures or their work with teachers. I would love to find a funding opportunity to entice district leadership into a guided self-study or evaluation. If anyone knows of such a funding opportunity please comment it! 

  • Icon for: Kiowa Garcia

    Kiowa Garcia

    8th Grade Living Environment Teacher
    May 16, 2021 | 02:07 p.m.

    As we participated in our VPLC’s, it was eye opening to see how similar research-based teaching methods and similar topics can be shared with different age groups. Our findings made us realize the importance of exposing and implementing certain practices at any age, and the connections between what we all do in the classroom at different developmental stages of students' lives.

  • Further posting is closed as the event has ended.