The PD Diaries: GEAR UP Allentown

Over the past 9 years, MAD-learn’s team of veteran educators has been working with educators in various school districts either in-person or virtually or both to ensure that they not only become MAD-masters but also have a phenomenal plan in place for student success year over year.

One such series of professional development sessions was in Eastern Pennsylvania, where our Director of Curriculum and Implementation, Gregg Stone, recently spent an eventful week visiting schools and working with both educators and students. In his own words: “I learned that ALL students can become “appreneurs” and snow days are called much more quickly than here in Pittsburgh 😉 “

EdTech class at Raub Middle School explores MAD-learn

Monday, January 23rd  was spent with a small group of teachers and GEAR UP staff at Trexler Middle School, students were able to take a deep dive into the newly revamped MAD-learn platform. The group navigated all six elements of the design-thinking process with ease, and the session was well-received.

7th grade Science student at Harrison Morton Middle School

On Tuesday, January 24th, Gregg visited South Mountain Middle. His host, Andrew Feldman, was very enthusiastic about MAD-learn, especially after having attended the Monday session at Trexler Middle. Ms. Bortz, a teacher at that day-long event also invited Gregg into her 6th-grade math class, where he led an activity in which students learned about HTML code through backward design. They had a great time with the lesson, and several did quite well on the task. Ms. Bortz was so enthusiastic about getting all her students involved in bringing their ideas to life through app creation that after the session, she immediately sent Gregg student data to create MAD-learn accounts. Later in the day,  Gregg had a unique experience working with a special needs class. They participated in an activity where they chose apps that had been made by MAD-students and rated them based on a rubric. Needless to say that our Director of Curriculum and Implementation was very impressed by the level of engagement and skill demonstrated by the group. As this was his first experience in such a class,  it made him appreciate how important it is to expect every bit as much from a group of special needs students as from any other class.

Gregg with Andrew Feldman

Although Wednesday, January 25th’s plan of spending the day at Harrison Morton Middle School was slightly derailed due to a threat of 1-3 inches of snow, the turn of events was by no means bad. The District made it a virtual learning day and fortunately, Gregg was able to salvage some of that day by splitting time between Harrison Morton Middle School and Raub Middle School on Friday.

Mr. Haas’s EdTech class at Trexler Middle School

Thursday, January 26th was spent with Brit Kholi at Trexler Middle School. There, Gregg visited two of Stuart Haas’s EdTech classes and was able to introduce the new and improved MAD-learn to these groups, as well as conduct a couple of activities related to coding. Mr. Haas was very supportive and helped keep both groups focused on the activities.

The morning of Friday, January 27th was spent at Raub Middle School, where Gregg focused more specifically on introducing MAD-learn to two more of Mr. Haas’s EdTech classes. Mr. Haas has submitted six class lists to the MAD-learn team to get them started with mobile app development. MAD-learn accounts have been created for all of his students! Raub’s Instructional Supervisor joined both classes. Gregg had the opportunity of having some great discussions about how MAD-learn’s app development program is a perfect fit for the goals of technology skills development at Raub. It was a joy to see Jessica Williams our great GEAR UP host, donning a MAD-learn  “STEMinist” t-shirt for the occasion!

Jessica Williams in her MAD-learn  “STEMinist” t-shirt.

Later that day, Gregg went across town to Harrison Morton. Lori Shuler did a great job in pulling together three afternoon classes from the ones that had originally been scheduled to meet on Wednesday. These included another special needs class and two science classes. The latter classes were devoted completely to getting acquainted with app building. Again, Gregg was very impressed with how the teacher, Kelly Caflin, jumped right in to run the second class, referring to him only when she needed to. This was done with just an introduction to her the period before!

Kelly Caflin jumps right in!

In all, it was a very productive week. The Allentown GEAR UP hosts were quite helpful. We are looking forward to more such exciting school visits.