Teachers receive summer training through AMSTI

NORTH SHELBY – Shelby County teachers are using the summer to learn new classroom strategies.

Many teachers are participating in training through the Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative through the University of Montevallo, including a Summer Institute held June 12-23 at Oak Mountain Middle School.

The training features tips, best practices and hands-on projects, taught by fellow instructors, that teachers can take back to their schools, AMSTI UM Director Cissi Bernhard said.

“This is what they are going to do with their kids in the classroom,” Bernhard said.

Through the training, teachers become certified for a certain grade level. If they change grades, they require additional training to remain certified.

AMSTI UM supports 3,500 K-12 math and science teachers in 87 schools, with about 900 undergoing training this summer.

In addition to Shelby County, teachers from several other systems—including Talladega County, Talladega City, Vestavia Hills City, Homewood City, Hoover City, Chilton County, Bibb County and Coosa County—are participating in the training.

Teachers from various systems are identified as possible trainers then undergo special training themselves—“train the trainers,” Bernhard said.

The training also includes an online component, said Bernhard, who commended the teachers who participate for sacrificing time during the summer to become better at their craft.

“These teachers make contacts with other teachers, and they also establish a resource in the trainers,” Bernhard said.

Bernhard said Shelby County Schools donates use of OMMS, which is appreciated since AMSTI receives funding through a state budget that is tight every year.

Rachel Stockard, AMSTI UM elementary specialist, said the program provides equal opportunities for students.

“Because we supply all of the materials necessary for teaching math and science through activity-based lessons to the school or system, all schools have access to the best instructional materials available, coupled with ongoing teacher development and support through Teacher Leader Programs, Professional Learning Communities, coaching and other best practices methods,” Stockard said. “The Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative has allowed us to support teachers in preparing our students to be competitive in the 21st century workforce.”

Caycie Fields and Katherine Alexander of Vincent Middle High School were trainers for a course on land, water and erosion for fourth grade teachers.

Groups of teachers filled plastic containers with various types of soil components—sand, clay and gravel—then mixed the components together to form uneven soil.

Next, water was poured onto one spot in the container and drained out of the other end. The teachers observed the effects the water had on the soil and mapped how the water moved across the soil and eroded certain areas.

“It allows them to identify erosion they see in the real world,” Alexander said. “Instead of reading about erosion, they’re seeing it happen.”

Fields said the projects, though intended for science classes, also require math and writing.

“It really incorporates everything, and the kids absolutely love it,” she said.

A second Summer Institute will be held July 10-14 at Hoover High School.