Effectiveness of activities and resources for professional development:

A national multiplier event in Sofia in the frames of STEM PD Net

More than 40 representatives of institutions dealing with the professional development of STEM teachers in Bulgaria got together in the Home of the scientist in Sofia on March 14-15, 2019. Together, they discussed the effectiveness of activities and resources offered by the Institute of Mathematics and Informatics at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (IMI-BAS) in the frames of STEM PD Net. The participants included policy makers from the Ministry of Education and Science, from regional directions of education in Sofia and Pazarjik. Amongst them were PD centers, Center for innovations of BAS, national laboratories in telematics and in software security, experts in mathematics and information technologies, businessmen, Union of Bulgarian Mathematicians, teacher educators.

The presentations covered the folllowing topics:

  1. The importance of the intellectual outputs of STEM PD Net and the ways they have been reflected in the PD courses the IMI-BAS has been delivering (Toni Chehlarova).
  2. Evaluating the results from PD courses based on the implementation of IBL via dynamic geometry software (Maria Brauchle).
  3. The impact of binary lessons for revealing the connections between mathematics and the rest of STEAM components, as well as with some apparently distant subjects such as physical education (Roumiana Anguelova).
  4. The effect of taking “a step away” from a classical school-math problem and applying the “what-if” strategy (Petar Kenderov).

Another important session dealt with evaluating the impact of a PD course from the viewpoint of teachers, students, businessmen, school principals and parents.

The scheduled poster session provoked vivid discussions and enthusiasm to try the good practices presented. A talk on some specific forms of supporting the inquiry-based learning at its higher levels (guided inquiry and open inquiry) was delivered by Evgenia Sendova, based on the long-term experience of IMI-BAS in educating educators and young mentors to guide research projects. Ivaylo Kortezov shared his experience from his latest PD course on Combinatorial problems in the contest’s mathematical themes for 8th-10th class. Reformulation of a classical problems and theorems in a form close to the world and interests of the students convinced the audience that these problems could find their deserved place in the school curriculum.

The importance of blending physical and computational media was well demonstrated by the final workshop, in which fragments of various PD courses were carried out by the participants.

The first impressions shared by the participating stake holders make us optimists about the outputs of STEM-PD-Net project. As one of the teachers expressed it: …The principle behind events like this one reminds me of a boomerang – an idea generated by someone and refracted through the eyes of another, comes back to the first one even reinforced! During this event I got several ideas I am going to implement in my school.