Curriculum Development for Culturally Responsive STEM Teachers

Teacher Development Grant

 2021-2022 Project Summary

Olga Carcamo-Haney

Danbury High School • Carmel, NY

In the next 10 years, STEM related careers are projected to grow more than twice that of non-STEM related occupations (U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, 2020). However, every year, many of these positions go unfilled. Despite the increase in STEM opportunities, people of color and women continue to remain the least represented groups in STEM positions. Often students of color are overlooked and not adequately prepared to take advantage of the opportunities available to enter the STEM workforce. This is primarily due to the STEM content curriculum, which typically is not designed for a diverse student population. Educational research has shown that students are less engaged and uninterested when learning content for which they see no perceived value. At Danbury High School, for example, Black or African American, LatinX or Hispanic, and English Language Learners score significantly below average on assessments in science and math in comparison to White and Asian students. In order to provide an equitable education for all students, training teachers and creating an inclusive curriculum is key.

Over the course of the next three years, we propose to create a culturally responsive education (CRE) team in the STEM department. During the first year, these teachers will research and develop a collaborative definition and understanding of CRE. The CRE team will interview students and the community, and create professional development based on the research findings and community outreach information gathered. The professional development will include anti-bias training, best practices for diverse learners, and data driven effective strategies for teaching English learners. In addition, student ambassadors will be nominated to work with teachers to include student voice throughout the process. Student ambassadors will help with interviewing students and community as well as having a say in creating and delivering professional development to teachers.

Based on the information gathered in year one, the STEM CRE team will evaluate and redesign STEm core curriculum in years two and three. Because the current curriculum is limited and not inclusive to all learners, the CRE team will evaluate the curriculum using the STEAM CRE Curriculum Scorecard from NYU Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools. The scorecard results will be used to identify areas lacking inclusivity and then this information will be used to re-design the curriculum. Again, the student ambassadors will also participate in these conversations to ensure that the curriculum represents student experiences.

Overall, this project will provide effective professional development for STEM teachers at Danbury High School bringing awareness of the rich multicultural diversity, representative of the student body and their unique strengths and experiences. By designing and implementing a culturally responsive curriculum the teachers will be able to highlight students strengths, increase engagement, and spark interest in STEM careers. Also, this project will allow student voice to be a part of the conversation and participate in changes towards a culturally responsive school.

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