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Stephen P. Robinson Collaboration Grant Report: Clayton-Bradley Academy, Maryville, TN

Tuesday, January 8, 2019  
Posted by: Christina Mimms
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In July 2013, the doors of Clayton-Bradley Academy (CBA) in Maryville, TN, opened with the mission of creating critical thinkers, problem solvers, and collaborators using citizenship skills called Lifelong Guidelines and LIFESKILLS. The mission was implemented utilizing the instructional model called Highly Effective Teaching. CBA’s mission was not solely internal, but also to serve as a training center for teachers nationwide. As CBA’s student numbers grew, it expanded in facilities with the opening of their main building that, along with additional classrooms, included a Teacher Training Center and opened the Center for Reimagining Education, the teacher training side of CBA. 

Since its inception, Clayton-Bradley Academy has partnered with Maryville College in many areas of education from the use of facilities to inviting Maryville College pre-service teachers into CBA classrooms. This partnership has been one of growth as the two institutions learned how to help and support each other. As part of this partnership, Kendall Terry, assistant director of CBA, reached out to Rebecca Lucas, associate professor education at Maryville College, about the SAIS Stephen P. Robinson Collaboration Grant opportunity in November 2017. Plans were already in motion to provide a Summer STEM Teacher Academy at CBA in June 2018 and this seemed like a natural fit for a collaboration of the two institutions.

Creating a dual-institution collaboration between secondary and college instructors required forethought and detailed planning. By December 1, 2017, Lucas and Terry were meeting to discuss how this collaboration was going to take place. An initial decision was that the grant would provide training free of charge for any Maryville College student in the education program, necessary supplies, and stipends for people leading the program. Both institutions wanted to offer real-world, hands-on activities that would enhance the teachers planning for the 2018-2019 school year and provide pre-service teachers with experiences to help them in their future classrooms. The training would also be made available to current educators for a fee. 

As this collaboration moved forward, Lucas recruited Terry Simpson, Irene Guerinot, and Bruce Guilliame from Maryville College to join the team. Terry from CBA brought Ankie Camacho, Kendal McCarter, Jennifer Webster, Nicole Whitecotton, and Liz Shugart to round out the team. As this group met at CBA and toured the facilities, working pairs were formulated and activities began to develop for the training in June. Participants for the training would take part in projects and activities in morning sessions and then discuss pedagogy, curriculum, and best practices after lunch each day for the two-day experience.

As planning progressed, participants registered from Maryville College and from the surrounding school systems (both public and independent). The total registration included 18 participants, nine of them pre-service teachers and nine current teachers from surrounding school systems. All 18 participants experienced each activity in small breakout groups for enhanced learning and understanding.

 Participants were given experiences in the following activities:

  • Stream Ecology: Participants studied Pistol Creek that flows on the boundary of CBA’s campus. Instruction was in the collection of macroinvertebrates, given field guides to help in the identification of each species, the use of Vernier probes to collect data on the stream, the setup of leaf litter bags, and other methodologies of stream ecology. Each step provided time for the participants to do exactly what the student would do in a stream ecology unit.
  • Beekeeping 101: Participants were given the opportunity to don beekeeping suits and visit the beehives located on the campus of CBA. They performed maintenance checks and were shown general procedures for beekeeping with students. (Honey is harvested from these hives by students each July and the participants walked through the steps of this process.) 
  • Hydroponics and Community Gardens: Participants were given the opportunity to explore the hydroponics setup and community garden at CBA. They walked through the steps of maintaining and designing each with the limitations and challenges of each. Participants were given a demonstration hydroponics kit and shown how to set it up in their classrooms. They also helped prune and check the various crops being grown on the CBA campus that students had planted and maintained for several years.
  • Science Modeling and Visual Note Taking: These two strategies were demonstrated together through physics activities for the participants. They were asked to develop their own models in Wave Notebooks with Frixion Pens that were provided for each participant. As they worked through the models with their instructors, participants were able to see how the scientific modeling process can be used to help students work from an initial understanding to a more indepth scientific understanding of the real-world.

During afternoon discussions, participants reviewed what they had learned. The instructors of the activities presented student work, further activities, integration strategies, challenges, and rubrics. Participants were then given the chance to work on developing curriculum with the help of the instructors using the standards each teacher needed for their grade level. Pre-service teachers and professional educators collaborated in creating new standards-based lesson plans. 

By the end of the two-day training, participants left with ideas around hands-on, project-based curriculum that they could implement in their classrooms. Feedback from the training indicated very positive outcomes for the training and instructors. Some of the comments from the participants included:

“There was a lot of great information and ideas to use in the classroom. There were also a lot of people available to ask with questions. Lots of resources available as well.”

“Thank you so much for letting me be included in this I look forward to doing other things at CBA in the future!”

“I thoroughly enjoyed this training and visiting your amazing campus. Your teaching philosophy at CBA is top-notch. I wish more schools understood the value of critical thinking and the waste of time that is standardized testing. Thank you for the experience.”

Clayton-Bradley Academy is currently in the process of scheduling another Summer STEM Teacher Academy with a math focus for June 10-11, 2019. The focus of this academy will include vertical alignment of standards, task-based assessment, and integration of other content into math for teachers grades K-12. For more information, visit www.claytonbradleyacademy.org or register for the event at https://goo.gl/forms/y25owLLD9FHWRmct2.


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