‘STEAM’ing Ahead Through Project-Based Learning in Uganda

By Usha Rajdev

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Dr. Rajdev is a counselor for Marymount University’s, Alpha Beta Delta Chapter, of Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society, and leads the STEM initiative in KDP’s International Committee. She’s a faculty advisor for the National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) Student Chapter and also for Marymount University’s Global STEM Certificate.

With this need to prepare our youth for future challenges in mind, in November 2018, in Indianapolis, I presented a ‘STEAMing Scientists’ workshop (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) about my upcoming STEM teaching approach. The following year, I would model this approach for the KDP Esooka chapter in Uganda. After my Indianapolis presentation, several audience members asked to meet with me. They expressed their interest in this upcoming STEM hands-on teaching approach. In 2019, I embarked on a journey to provide STEM education to teachers and institutions of the Esooka KDP Chapter. This STEM education was part of the KDP STEM Initiative. Over the course of two weeks I met with faculty members from one university and administrators and teachers from four local high schools to develop STEM programs. Under my guidance, The Mosquito! Module (https://ssec.si.edu/mosquito) was implemented at the five institutions. Teachers from each institution engaged in training using local resources to later implement this project with their students.

The Mosquito! Module framework focused on sustainable actions that students defined and implemented to reduce mosquito infestations in and around schools. The content of the module included cleaning wells, removal of stagnant water, learning the life cycle of mosquitoes and the spread of diseases, and the importance and urgency of engineering and designing mosquito traps. The Ugandian students continued to work and strengthen their projects and traps throughout 2019. They were actively engaged in informing their surrounding community about the mosquito problems and offering realistic and sustainable solutions. The students also communicated with the school nurse to document the decline in cases of malaria in their schools. They were looking forward to sharing their data and projects at the next International KDP/STEM Convo in 2020. However, due to COVID-19 canceling the 2020 Convocation, this KDP presentation will take place at a later date.

Uganda’s KDP/STEM story does not end here with the Mosquito! Module. The Ugandan teachers will continue to work on this module over the coming years and will present their projects at some point when routine life begins. They plan to mentor and expand this Mosquito! Module with other schools and will begin their work on the Smithsonian Science Education Center’s COVID19! Module with me. The effects of the contagion will be compared with that of the mosquito diseases within their local communities.

Teachers and students met monthly online with me to update their progress and receive support on how to best continue and overcome any challenges. In October 2019, members of the Esooka Chapter met with the Smithsonian Science Education Center to discuss progress of the Module. Some schools had an abundance of stagnant water, while others dealt with marsh areas. The teachers and I also discussed ideas for the future of the program including an International KDP/STEM Conference that is planned for Kampala, in Uganda, when the COVID-19 pandemic ends. A Ugandan teacher who worked with our STEM program entered his student in a STEM competition. Of the 1,200 students involved in the project, the student’s presentation, demonstrating his passion for sustainability, was one of the winning projects. (https://bit.ly/2BSa2Qm). All five institutions are working on the criteria for a ‘STEM School Certificate’ through Marymount University’s Global STEM Chapter.

As described by the Esooka Chapter Counselor, Joyce, Nansubuga, this experience through KDP’s STEM Initiative helped in… “making teaching and learning more practical through the PBL approach, being an innovative teacher and a lifelong learner, and embracing STEAM in preparations of our lessons and in teaching.”

The journey continues. (https://bit.ly/2NHoJs7).

KDP’s International Work

Today’s bloggers are Dr. Barbara Meyer (Member, KDP International Committee) and Dr. Susan Trostle Brand (International Ambassador and United Nations NGO Representative for KDP).

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Everyone deserves a quality education.

Education, at best, is tailored to each individual’s unique developmental, cultural, and academic needs. 

Every student learns differently, and each student, even a youngster with only a five-year history, brings their personal stories, cultures, traditions, and histories to the classroom.

History and culture exert a tremendous impact on an individual’s learning. Teachers who recognize and take a pro-active role in students’ cultures and histories are better prepared to reach out and meet the needs of their students.

Some educators have the opportunity to travel, engage with others abroad, and observe how others live.

Other educators do not have these opportunities.

Regardless, in order to attain ongoing enlightenment, mutual respect, and continued progress in social justice, educators must all acquire an understanding of those who live in different places and speak different languages. Acquiring an awareness, an understanding, and an acceptance of those who live in different regions and countries equips individuals to work for equality and equity and, ultimately, strive for a more harmonious world. People with whom we work and socialize all have different backgrounds, even though we may live in the same neighborhoods.

As teachers, the students in our classrooms may originate from other countries or speak a different language in their homes. 

Their priorities, goals and challenges may be different from what we experienced when we were that age. Educators who embrace these differences are better prepared to actively and compassionately teach every child with an appreciation for, and recognition of, their uniqueness.

The mission of Kappa Delta Pi, an International Honor Society in Education, is “to prepare all learners for future challenges.” This mission includes the preparation of educators throughout the world, as KDP is an Honor Society for all teachers in all countries.

One example of our KDP mission in action is evidenced through the work of the International Committee of KDP that strives “to establish, promote, and enact, various initiatives of action, advocacy, and advancement towards international education and international educators.”

Through traveling abroad and experiencing locations outside of our local areas, educators encounter and acquire an appreciation of the personal stories and histories of their students. These educators share their international experiences and new knowledge with other educators through meetings, publications, webinars, lesson modeling, and face-to-face interactions. Therefore, they promote international awareness and an expanded range of teaching skills for other educators that embrace all diverse learners.

In 2016, the International Committee of KDP formed the International Ambassador position. As International Ambassadors travel to different countries, they bring with them their expertise and resources from KDP and discuss with educators abroad the value of joining KDP. Some ambassadors initiate new members into KDP and even install chapters in international schools, universities, and colleges. They describe and visually display the resources that KDP offer for educators and explain how these tools can be used for their own professional development and instruction.  Because of this work, KDP has an ever-expanding number of members in 47 countries outside of the United States.  

The outreach of our KDP ambassadors and other KDP members has resulted in substantial and groundbreaking work in countries such as Western Kenya, Uganda, China, Mexico, and more. 

With this progress in mind, over the next few months, we plan like to present a series of blog posts that describe these experiences and provide KDP members with ideas of how they might also travel abroad to promote the mission of KDP and work with members and chapters in other countries. Watch for exciting and inspiring international posts a few times per month from October through December.  We hope you will enjoy hearing these international stories, perhaps consider traveling yourself, and also glean ideas about how to better serve the needs of international students in your own community.

To contact us about opportunities, email membership@kdp.org.

It’s A Small World, After All

We frequently hear about the importance of today’s students being critical and innovative thinkers and globally aware citizens. But did you know that the same discussions are happening halfway around the globe? As part of the 7th Annual High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange held in Beijing, June 7–9, 2016, a U.S.–China Education Think Tank Dialogue was held with a theme of Educational Research, Policymaking and Innovation in the Knowledge-Based Economy. Participants in the dialogue included policy makers, teacher preparation faculty, researchers, principals, and teachers. (You can download the agenda by clicking here.)

The presentations addressed topics such as lessons of education reform and development in China and U.S. educational reform efforts, curriculum reform, vocational education, and innovative teaching practices. The scope and variety of presentations provided attendees with a unique and comprehensive overview of education in China today. Similar to U.S. efforts to address inequalities in education and to equip our youth with the skills and mindsets necessary to thrive in the 21st century, Chinese policy makers and school administrators are working to improve access to quality education in the western parts of the country, to develop more critical thinking skills and creativity, and to make K–12 classroom instruction more student-centered.

As part of China’s commitment to internationalize its education, all 300 million students study English, starting in Kindergarten.

While the United States shares some of the same education goals, we also have similar challenges. Our Chinese counterparts are increasing funding and support of rural and minority schools, identifying new ways of engaging the community, working to make the profession of teaching more respected and with competitive salaries, and providing schools with more autonomy. Another area of commonality is providing professional development for educators and administrators. Because of Shanghai students’ high PISA scores, there has been global interest in learning more about Shanghai teachers and schools. Data from a Teaching and Learning International Survey revealed that Shanghai teachers have 62 professional development days per academic year.

All new teachers participate in a multiple-year induction program that includes a mentor who is an expert teacher. This level of support requires a financial commitment, which is particularly noteworthy given that 100 new schools are built each year in Shanghai.

The Think Tank Dialogue offered rich learning opportunities for both U.S. and Chinese educators. Reflecting on the three days of presentations, it is clear that we have much more in common than the differences that divide us.

Faye Snodgress is chairing a session on Higher Education Reform and Employment with presenters Dr. Leon Richard, Chancellor of the University of Hawaii Kapiolani Community College, Dr. Sun Cheng, Director of Vocational and Technical Education, National Institute of Education Sciences of China, Dr. Yi Li, Provost and Vice President, California State University-Northridge, and Dr. Wu Ni, Director for the Education Policy Research Center, National Institute of Education Sciences of China.

Faye Snodgress is chairing a session on Higher Education Reform and Employment with presenters Dr. Leon Richard, Chancellor of the University of Hawaii Kapiolani Community College, Dr. Sun Cheng, Director of Vocational and Technical Education, National Institute of Education Sciences of China, Dr. Yi Li, Provost and Vice President, California State University-Northridge, and Dr. Wu Ni, Director for the Education Policy Research Center, National Institute of Education Sciences of China.

Given KDP’s commitment to advancing sustainability literacy, I met with our partner, the Beijing Association for Education for Sustainable Development (BAESD), which is interested in becoming an affiliate chapter of KDP. BAESD is involved in the establishment of a national Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) District and Green Development Exemplary District in the Shijingshan District. China’s commitment to ESD has set a good example worldwide in curriculum development, teacher training, and innovations in technology. As part of working together with educators and other countries to promote the well-being of human society, the group is interested in establishing a partnership with U.S. high schools that have incorporated either environmental education or sustainable education in their pedagogies and curriculum.

Dr. SHI, Gendongi and his BAESD staff, principals, and teachers.

Dr. SHI, Gendongi and his BAESD staff, principals, and teachers.

Being in China for the Think Tank Dialogue also provided an opportunity for me to meet with two of our Chinese chapters. Members of the Far East China School chapter shared the many ways that members use and benefit from KDP resources, such as listening to and discussing podcasts, reading articles from the Record, and using the professional development resources and tips shared in emails from KDP Headquarters. Chapter members are eagerly awaiting Convo 2017!

KDP Counselor Dr. Chen Xaioda proudly displays the KDP banner which will hang in the school’s conference room.

KDP Counselor Dr. Chen Xaioda proudly displays the KDP banner which will hang in the school’s conference room.

The KDP Asia–Pacific Network for International Education and Values Education (APNIEVE) chapter, which was established by KDP Laureate Dr. Zhou Nan-Zhoa, is interested in expanding membership beyond Shanghai. Some new goals were established for collaboration between KDP and APNIEVE related to joint research projects and participation in exchange programs for teachers, principals, and students.

An international experience such as my recent trip to China reminds me how much we can learn from talking with other educators, whether they are part of our local community or teach in schools around the world.

Dr. Xiong Jianhui, Secretary-General of UNESCO-APNIEVE and KDP Chapter Counselor, joins me in showing our updated planning document.

Dr. Xiong Jianhui, Secretary-General of UNESCO-APNIEVE and KDP Chapter Counselor, joins me in showing our updated planning document.

We share a deep-seeded belief that education is the path to a better life, and we strive to ensure that today’s youth are responsible global citizens who have the skills and understanding to address future challenges in an equitable manner.

We are united by a profession in which we all strive to continually improve our practice to ensure that every student reaches his or her full potential. It is a small world, after all.

Faye_S_7-1-14Faye Snodgress, CAE, is the Executive Director for Kappa Delta Pi, International Honor Society in Education.

How Do We Prepare Graduates to Thrive in the 21st Century?

Faye Snodgress is executive director of Kappa Delta Pi.

How do we provide quality education that prepares children to live and thrive in a rapidly changing world? Depending on where you live in the world, there are some cultural differences in how a quality education is delivered, but the goals are the same around the globe.

Faye in China 3From the children of Nomads in Mongolia to teenagers in Beijing, education systems are being reoriented so that everyone has the opportunity to get the knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes that empower them to contribute to sustainable development. Research and case studies showing how these goals are being realized was the focus of the third Asia Pacific Education for Sustainable Development Expert Meeting held in Beijing June 2-4, 2015.

Educators from the Philippines, Canada, Japan, Mongolia, Russia, Laos, Sweden, Thailand, China and the U.S. participated in the meeting. Having been invited to share the work of KDP in advancing the understanding of education for sustainabile development (ESD), I was honored to have the opportunity to learn from international colleagues who have made substantial progress in infusing ESD in their national education systems.

Faye in China 2During our two days together, we reviewed global evidence related to the successes and challenges of delivering quality education through the implementation of ESD. A common reference point for many of the discussion and presentations was the findings from a recently released research report which studied 18 countries that incorporate sustainability in their education and traditional disciplines to prepare graduates to thrive in the 21st Century. The research results provide abundant evidence that ESD contributes to a quality education and promotes the learning of skills, perspectives, and values necessary to foster and maintain sustainable societies.

Faye in China 1As is so often the case, it is through conferring with others who are doing similar work that helps us to grow professionally and be inspired by others’ successes. I look forward to using the experiences and insights of this new group of colleagues to help inform KDP’s effort to infuse ESD in the U.S. education system and to grow a widespread commitment to include the important goals of educating for a sustainable future in our classrooms.

If you would like to learn more about education for sustainable development, University of Edinburg in Scotland is offering a free online course starting June 22. This five-week course requires a 1-3 hour time commitment each week. University of Edinburgh produces high quality ESD programs and materials. Learn more about the course on the Learning for Sustainability: Developing a Personal Ethic web page.

Meet David McNelly!

Check out this month’s Member Spotlight, David McNelly! David has been a member of KDP since 2009 and is a Classroom Teacher Grant reviewer. He is a Special Needs and ESL Coordinator in the United Arab Emirates. Connect with him in KDP Global.

David McNellyWhat do you value most about your KDP membership?
Over the past two years, my understanding of membership has expanded and KDP has become a valued asset. Lately, KDP been a way for way to be of service and volunteer even while teaching overseas.

What is your most used KDP member benefit?
Articles and updates especially in the area of Special Education. I work as a coordinator in a different country at an international school with a modified American curriculum. KDP resources have become more useful as the need to stay updated has increased.

Why do you use KDP Global?
I work overseas in the United Arab Emirates and love to work and live in different countries. I have taught in three countries and hope to add China or Singapore to the list next year.

What do you love about being an educator?
A first grade boy at my school struggles with letters and numbers both due to language challenges (left to right and right to left with a different alphabet) and learning concerns. In the mornings, before school, he gets 20 minutes of free time to use the whiteboard and try to write his name. He still makes a “Z” look like a number two and transposes “I” and “U,” but he is very enthusiastic. Every day he keeps trying, and I think that is what I like most about being an educator—never giving up.

Got a Minute? Week of January 19, 2015

Got a minute for KDP? See what’s going on at headquarters in a one-minute(ish) video.

This week:

  • KDP headquarters will be closed Monday, January 19, for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
  • Registration opens this week for iLead Conferences being held in a city near you!
  • The application portal for the People to People travel scholarships opens January 19.
  • Register for our Jan. 20 webinar: Global Education: Best Practices with Neelam Chowdhary.

6 Members, 5 Life-Changing Trips

Laura Stelsel is director of marketing & communications at Kappa Delta Pi.

Travel Program LogoHave you been looking for a life-changing adventure? How about one that will look great on your résumé? And how about one that is completely free?

If this sounds like you, we have great news! Kappa Delta Pi is partnering with People to People Ambassador Programs, one of the world’s most recognized and respected educational travel providers, on a contest exclusively for KDP members.

Beginning Jan. 19, KDP members will have the opportunity to apply for one of six travel scholarships to facilitate leadership training for students in grades 6-12. This training will focus on global citizenship, leadership skills, global confidence, and goal setting in one of People to People’s Leadership Summits or World Leadership Forums.

Travel Program PhotoThe KDP members chosen will help lead summer programs in Washington, DC, (three trips, including one to George Washington University), Boston (Harvard), or Los Angeles (UCLA), with all-expenses paid.

Sound interesting? The submission portal will be open Jan. 19-Feb. 28. Applicants will need to submit a 60-second video (from your phone is fine!) and answer a few essay questions. Winners will be selected by KDP staff and announced the week of March 9.

You can learn more about People to People’s programs on its website.

In the meantime, be thinking of why YOU should be selected for this opportunity, and check the KDP website on Jan. 19 to submit your application!

We are also pleased to announce that KDP and People to People will be partnering on international trips in 2016! Stay tuned for more exciting details.

Children matter! Read our UN youth rep’s recap from the briefing

Anum Khan is a member of Alpha Alpha Delta Chapter at Saint Peter’s University. She is Kappa Delta Pi’s Youth Representative to the United Nations.

Anum Khan

Anum Khan, far right middle row, attended the November 20 UN briefing.

On November 20, I attended a United Nations briefing titled “Children’s Voices in Creating a World Fit for All: Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.” You can watch a recording of the briefing on the UN’s Web TV channel.

This briefing was very beneficial because it raised some very important questions, the most important of which was, “Are we listening?” Most adults do not take what children say seriously, which is wrong because children have the ability to make a difference. Their voice matters! As adults we have an obligation to consider the rights of children.

Dr. Roseanne Flores, an associate professor of psychology at Hunter College, gave an informing presentation on how adults can support and encourage children’s participation, including:

  • Make eye contact;
  • Communicate at eye level;
  • Show patience when a child is trying to communicate;
  • Ask open-ended questions to engage children and encourage a response;
  • Provide encouragement so children will speak, participate, and learn to make decisions;
  • Develop activities that will allow children to develop a sense of empowerment and leadership skills;
  • Ask children their opinion on matters that affect them; and
  • Give children age appropriate control and responsibility for their personal care.

Briefing Room

Khan’s view from the briefing room.

These points are extremely useful for educators to apply in their classrooms. It is important for children to know that they are being listened to and what they say matters.

You can read more about KDP’s affiliation with the UN on the KDP website.

* The Convention on the Rights of the Child is a human rights treaty, which establishes the civil, social, political, and economical rights of children.

**Note the Convention on the Rights of the Child has not been ratified in the United States, South Sudan, and Somalia. (Somalia and the United States have signed the document, but have not ratified it)

Mercyhurst University Alums Empower Future Educators

Jessica Pepe is a graduate student at Mercyhurst University. She is associate counselor of Alpha Beta Pi Chapter.

Grace Doman (KDP Member), Jessica Pepe (Associate Counselor of the Alpha Beta Pi Chapter), Heather Mills (Expo presenter and former president of KDP)

Grace Doman, KDP member; Jessica Pepe, Alpha Beta Pi Chapter associate counselor; and Heather Mills, Expo presenter and former KDP president.

On November 8, Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania welcomed back 20 alums who have been in the field of education from 1-5 years to present at the 8th annual Teaching and Learning Expo. The Expo brings more than 100 people together who all have something in common; the desire to educate and create bright futures for students.

The Teaching and Learning Expo, hosted by Kappa Delta Pi, allows students to attend a keynote speaker session and then move to three other presentations of their choice. The keynote speakers this year were three Mercyhurst alumnae from the graduating class of 2013.

These women presented, “Challenge Accepted: Teaching in China,” which highlighted a teaching experience of a lifetime. After graduation, the three moved to Ningbo, China, where they not only had the opportunity to teach young children English, but they were also given the unexpected task of writing and designing curriculum. Their presentation truly underscored this year’s Expo theme: “Empower.”

Jenna Gannon, Shana Brown, and Tawney Johnson’s keynote presentation, “Challenge Accepted: Teaching in China.”

Jenna Gannon, Shana Brown, and Tawney Johnson’s keynote presentation, “Challenge Accepted: Teaching in China.”

After feeling empowered from the keynote session, Mercyhurst undergraduates and graduates were able to craft the rest of their time at the Expo from 16 diverse presentations. The chapter’s goal was to have a variety of perspectives by selecting alums with many different backgrounds in education. Presentations on how to be empowered upon entering the field of education came from early childhood teachers, middle childhood teachers, high school teachers, art teachers, special education teachers, gifted education teachers, and behavior analysts. Presentations gave advice to students on how to survive the first year, interact with parents, build relationships with students, make education fun, and so much more.

The purpose of this Expo is not only for education majors to experience what it is like to attend a conference, but for future educators to be inspired and empowered after graduating. Having presenters that have been in the field for such a short time made this Expo a truly relatable experience for future educators. Students were granted the special opportunity to hear and see how far a Mercyhurst education will go.

After much feedback from attendees, it was evident that alums are living out the Mercyhurst University tagline, “Teach. Anyone. Anywhere.”