Teachers test out a solar-powered activity to share with students when school resumes.

Teachers test drive a solar-powered activity

More than 300 educators will spend part of their well-deserved summer vacation in professional development trainings offered by RAFT, Resource Area For Teaching. These Summer Institutes connect groups of dedicated educators with tools and methods which inspire curiosity and engage students in the learning process, especially when it comes to STEM education.

Now in the program’s 8th year, the RAFT Summer Institutes emphasize techniques for educators to encourage student mastery of the critical 21st century skills they need to be successful in school and future careers. Participants will join thousands of graduates from past Institutes in creating effective math and science learning environments for an entire generation of Bay Area students.

The San Jose-based nonprofit introduced the Innovation Institute in 2007 and its success led to the development of sessions covering math, science, and innovation for students from pre-kindergarten through high school.  RAFT offers the Institutes to help teachers implement effective lessons that encourage students to become collaborative, creative, and lifelong learners. Skills such as these are now the hallmark of the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards.

“RAFT was ‘Common Core’ long before the educational standards were introduced,” said Cynthia Lipsig, science and technology teacher at Central Bay High School in Salinas, RAFT Fellow, and Institute participant. “I could not effectively teach my students without project-based learning activities which instill skills, not just content. RAFT makes it possible for educators to go beyond multiple choice and continually improve teaching techniques that make learning engaging. This summer I am looking forward to learning about best practices for implementing Next Generation Science Standards and getting more awesome RAFT resources.”

The Institutes, led by RAFT master teachers and curriculum developers, are funded by Bay Area corporations, foundations, and individuals dedicated to enhancing STEM education. A limited number of seats are still available for some of the Institutes, which run now through August. Interested educators should visit www.raftbayarea.org/summer-institutes for more information.  From among this group, RAFT will select a new cohort of Fellows to share their expertise in hands-on learning techniques with educators and students throughout the community over the course of the next school year.

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