Ever thought that solving a problem could be fun? The Virginia Initiative for Science Teaching and Achievement (VISTA) uses problems – and how we can solve them – as a fun and effective way to engage teachers of grades 4, 5, and 6 and their students in studying science. This approach is called problem-based learning and is the focus of several VISTA summer teacher training programs at universities across Virginia. At the VISTA Institutes, teachers and students investigate and measure a variety of real-world problems and create a plan for putting problem-based learning into action in their classrooms.
Last summer, teams of teachers from Hanover County, Chesterfield County, Bedford County and Hopewell City spent a month at VCU learning about problem-based learning. At the camp, they created and tested their unit and mapped out a plan for implementing it during the school year. This fall they worked with their students to tackle the problems with enthusiasm and confidence. All VISTA teachers are provided with additional resources including funding and a coach to help them implement their ideas.
If you are a teacher of grades 4, 5, 6 in Virginia and would like to attend one of the VISTA Summer Institutes either at VCU, William and Mary, or George Mason, contact VISTA for an application.
The Virginia Initiative for Science Teaching and Achievement (VISTA) is a five-year, $34 million federal grant designed as a partnership between VCU’s School of Education, the College of William and Mary, University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, James Madison University and George Mason University, with 47 school districts, and the Virginia Department of Education.
Listen to ths report by WCVE Public Radio’s John Ogle: