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Workshops equip teachers to help students “learn science by doing science”

June 11, 2018

Educators at Catholic schools in the Diocese of Grand Rapids sharpen their instructional skills through a wide variety of professional development opportunities, in order to provide students the best possible education. Those PD opportunities include ongoing workshops from Van Andel Education Institute.

This past school year, 100 kindergarten through 5th grade teachers from 19 Catholic schools participated in VAEI workshops about incorporating inquiry-based learning into science activities. Inquiry-based learning provides students a central question which they explore through guided discussions, experiments and hands-on activities over several class periods. Additionally, teachers learned about connecting those several class periods with storylines about the central question. Along the way, the educators also developed approaches for increasing student choice and ownership in classroom learning, as well as providing students with strategies that develop self-direction. In short, VAEI workshops helped teachers prepare lessons where students learn science by doing science.

Related: Catholic school faculty, administrators collaborate to explore classroom learning labs

Next fall, K-5 teachers begin their third year of professional development activities with VAEI. Whereas the first two years of this partnership focused on the inquiry model for science content, this third year will expand the inquiry model into mathematics and engineering. Previously, middle and high school teachers enjoyed a three-year partnership with VAEI from 2014-15 through 2016-17. Van Andel Educational Institute has been a valuable resource for incorporating models of inquiry into the curriculum at Catholic schools across our diocese. As a result, our educators offer students at all grade levels a personalized learning experience fostering academic excellence.

Catholic schools in the Diocese of Grand Rapids are an alliance of 30 vibrant learning communities serving more than 6,600 elementary and high school students. Our schools inspire young people to grow in Catholic faith and grace, achieve more in school and life, develop creativity and character, and feel welcomed and cherished for their unique gifts. We partner with parents to awaken the whole child to a world of light and life—that grows better and brighter when children reach their potential. Learn more about our Catholic schools here.

Van Andel Education Institute (VAEI) is a nonprofit institution committed to creating classrooms where curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking thrive. VAEI is transforming science education by offering student programs, professional development, and instructional tools that bring inquiry-based learning to life and engage students in thinking and acting like scientists. Learn about VAEI here.