WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - Fain Elementary is expanding its project-based learning curriculum next school year by adding a new mentor program after it partnered with a Wichita Falls STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) business.
"We want the kids to learn why it's important to read, to understand why they're learning mathematics, or why it's important to read and to problem solve," Clarisa Richie the school's principal said.
Last year, Richie added project-based learning becoming the first school in Wichita Falls ISD to do so.
"We had several community members in last year and the students were able to present their designs and ideas and collaborate with community members with real adults, not just the teachers and their peers," Richie said.
Now, the school will partner up with Dexter Learning to bring in mentors to help students in mathematics. Richie said students would trade in crayons and clay to work on computer programming skills and creating their own 3-D printing designs.
"We hope that they'll be able to create some portfolios for the teachers and students so we can share our ideas and do some big things," Richie said.
Michael Olaya, Dexter Learning CEO, said teachers will also have to learn how to apply project-based learning.
"We're bringing in a world-leading expert in project-based learning an education adviser at the Nueva school, [Lora Saarnio]," Olaya said. "She'll come here and do a workshop with the educators at Fain, help them transition to facilitators."
It is the first school Dexter Learning has partnered with for the mentor program but Olaya said they plan on working other schools in the area.
"What happens is if you can add more schools to this network, say software developing, it allows teachers to collaborate, share lessons, the quality of the curriculum for the students actually improves," Olaya said. "So, if we can have a network of schools the outcome will be much, much better."
A classroom and an outdoor shed will be converted into STEAM rooms (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) just like the Marker Space, a room designed by the students, was.
"That's what we want from our projects. We want it to be lead by the students not just the adults in the building," Richie said.
The teacher's workshop will take place August 10 at Big Blue.