Professional Learning Teams

AP Biology

Description of PLT including Goals and Plans to Disseminate

The AP Biology PLT of the Mohawk Valley is comprised of secondary science teachers who all teach the College Board course. Many of the individuals that are members of the PLT are the sole instructor for this course in their respective districts. Having a group of colleagues that share similar objectives has been extremely helpful in the preparation and implementation of lessons within our courses. An additional 2019-20 school year emphasis will be on new curriculum changes that the College Board implemented in 2019. This PLT has three main goals that we are working toward. First, we are trying to narrow the scope of the AP Biology curriculum so that students are required to memorize less facts, but rather understand main themes across different content areas. Second, we assist one another in best practices and the trouble-shooting of various laboratory investigations. Finally, we continually share ways in which to make this course more student-centered and inquiry-based.

Facilitator of PLT Laurie Hennessy

Email of Facilitator

Membership Laurie Hennessy and Sean Ryan

Meeting Dates and Locations All meetings begin at 4:30 p.m. on the third Monday of every month. Locations may vary but typically are in the Utica area.

Emerging Technologies PLT

Description of PLT including Goals and Plans to Disseminate

This PLT was formed to develop cross-curricular experiences for students that would enrich their education with emerging technologies. We are integrating the use of drones, 3D printers, augmented reality and robotics into our classrooms to inspire and engage our students. Our PLT would like to take the "train the trainer" approach to disseminate the research and curriculum the group creates to the rest of the MT cohort.

Facilitator of PLT Scott Gray

Email of Facilitator

Membership Scott Gray, Chris Snell, Lisa Wind, Dave Morrell, Wes Laurion, Brian Roecklein

Meeting Dates and Locations TBD on a monthly basis.

Earth Science Rocks!

Description of PLT including Goals and Plans to Disseminate

This PLT will research rock and mineral localities within NY specifically focusing on finding localities where rocks and minerals mentioned in the Earth Science Reference Tables can be legally observed and/or collected. We will also plan trips to visit, document, photograph and collect samples from each site. Eventually, we have aspirations of creating a free online database to assist other Earth Science Teachers in locating and respectfully collecting high-quality rock and mineral samples from NY for use in their classrooms. We also plan on presenting at NYSMTP conferences and offering open PD for Earth Science teachers to disseminate our information to the NY Earth Science and/or K-12 teacher community.

Facilitator of PLT Gary Osarczuk

Email Facilitator

Membership Gary Osarczk & AJ Spado (Coordinators who work to pick and plan trips) - All teachers are welcome to plan and/or attend trips. Please reach out to Gary Osarczuk at if interested.

Meeting Dates and Locations Meetings are held digitally on an as-needed basis to plan trips.

STEM Connections

Description of PLT including Goals and Plans to Disseminate

The goal of this PLT is to create and share lesson plans that embody the interdisciplinary connections between mathematics and science. The PLT will collect, create, and review materials to share them with colleagues and The Master Teacher Program. The current focus is on the connections between the sciences (middle school, life science, earth science, chemistry, physics, and computer science) and mathematics (middle school, algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, and Calculus). We will also be exploring the connections at the elementary grade levels.

Facilitator of PLT Brian Roecklein and Dave Morell (Co-facilitator)

Email Facilitator ,

Membership Brian Roecklein, Dave Morell, Chris Snell, Lisa Wind, Wes Laurion, Nicole Sullivan, and Barabara Butka

Meeting Dates and Locations 2nd or 3rd Monday of the Month from 7-9 PM via Google Hangout.

Multimedia use in Your Classroom

Description of PLT including Goals and Plans to Disseminate

Have you ever wanted to develop your own media (i.e., videos) to use in your classroom? This PLT addresses the development, editing, production, and use of videos and other multimedia for your personal classroom, K-12. Members will evaluate existing recording/editing platforms and will suggest what can work for quick, as well as more detailed, productions. Members will also work to evaluate known hardware needed to record material and provide suggestion lists to those entering into this area. In collaboration with and support of each other, members will produce their own instructional videos to be used directly in their classroom (or as an additional teaching medium). These videos can serve both as primary instruction (as in a flipped classroom) or as additional support for students (tutorials, information for absent students, etc.). An additional goal is to develop a library of instructional materials available for all disciplines of Master Teachers in K-12 (depending on PLT membership) to use when desired. Products will be available as they are completed through either a shared Google drive or Google workplace.

Facilitator of PLT Kathryn Silvestri

Email of Facilitator

Membership Brandon Fleming, Kayla Foster, Lindsey Sikes, Nicole Sullivan, Kathryn Silvestri (facilitator), Justin Wiedrick, and Jason Bradley

Meeting Dates and Locations Times are either 7-8 PM or 2:30 to 3:30 (we decide via email the week before we meet) on 11/4/19, 12/4/19, 1/6/20, 2/5/20, 3/11/20, 4/8/20 at New Hartford High School, Rm 294.

Engagement and Achievement

Description of PLT including Goals and Plans to Disseminate

Encourage student involvement. Have meaningful discussions. Build relationships with and among students. Shift engagement levels. Excite students. Include rigor, community connections, and relevance. Encourage reflection. Bolster social and emotional " well-being." PLT members explore ideas, tools, and strategies to help students engage and achieve.

Topics include: classroom management styles, designing inquiry-based projects, setting expectations, embracing diverse learning styles, and select literature (Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess and Leaders of Their Own Learning by Ron Berger).

Facilitator of PLT Amy Parr and Barbara Butka (Co-Facilitator)

Email of Facilitator and

Membership Amy Parr, Barbara Butka, John Sunderland, Hanz Litz, Jillian Kreppel, JoAnn DeMars, Jenn Rightmyer, Deb Henry, Chaundra Davis, Elaine Ojeda

Meeting Dates and Locations Third Thursday of each month, 5:00 - 7:00 pm. Location varies. Please email the facilitators for details.

Computer Science Opportunities

Description of PLT including Goals and Plans to Disseminate

The focus of this PLT is to find and explore events and competitions that exist outside of the traditional classroom to provide students with opportunities to use computer science in a competitive setting. Additionally, we hope to have students from different school districts working collaboratively and competitively with each other and computer programming challenges. We hope that this will promote computer science in schools. We plan to share our findings with master teachers at other schools and offer training to other master teachers to help them feel confident leading a competitive programming team at their school.

Facilitator of PLT Wes Laurion

Email of Facilitator

Membership Wes Laurion, Mike Eramo, and Chris Snell

Meeting Dates and Locations TBD/ Continuous online collaboration

Creating Connections in a Disconnected World

Description of PLT including Goals and Plans to Disseminate

Our PLT will be designed to guide teachers from all disciplines to research current trends in the educational impacts of technology and its effects on student interaction in the classroom. We then aim to apply new pedagogical techniques to the classroom. Teachers are noticing a lack of communication skills between students as well as between students and teachers. This may be partially attributed to shifts in technological trends. We are hoping to bridge the gap between living in a digitally connected world while maintaining interpersonal relationships.

Facilitator of PLT Eileen Roth and Matt Romonow (Co-facilitator)

Email of Facilitator ,

Membership Matt Romanow, Lindsay Ballie, Stacey Bennett, Patty Jenks, Kayla Foster, Melissa Richardson, Chris Snell, Lisa Wind, Charles Rogan, and Nick Darrah

Meeting Dates and Locations October 10, New Hartford, 3:15 pm

Elementary STEM Enrichment

Description of PLT including Goals and Plans to Disseminate

This PLT will focus on the development and implementation of extracurricular STEM lessons and challenges offered to elementary school students. These STEM activities will meet and deepen knowledge of the New York State Science Learning Standards. Prior to each monthly meeting, we will work to develop and refine STEM lessons and challenges that we can use at the extracurricular STEM events. Upon meeting, we will discuss the best pedagogical methods to deliver content and demonstrate skills to accomplish challenges. Aside from collaborating with Master Teachers, our members will also be meeting with administrators and community organizations to identify ways to implement these enrichment activities. We will have a Google Drive that contains not only all of our STEM activities but will also possess all the administrative forms (permission slips, letters to parents, etc.) that one would need to create and operate an extracurricular STEM event in a district. We are also open to presenting our activities and implementation tips at MTP events in and outside of our Mohawk Valley region.

Facilitator of PLT Sean Ryan and Jason Bradley (Co-facilitator)

Email of Facilitator ,

Membership Sean Ryan, Jason Bradley, Kate Sfeir, Kate Radell, Elaine Ojeda, Kathleen Washburn, Barabara Butka, Gary Tinkler

Meeting Dates and Locations 4:00 p.m. at Hart's Hill Elementary Room 21 on 11/6, 12/11, 1/15, 2/1, 3/11, 4/15, 5/20, 6/3

Phenomenal Physics

Description of PLT including Goals and Plans to Disseminate

Refine and develop physics resources, labs, and lessons to maximize student ability to acquire knowledge and skills and have them readily available from memory to make sense of future problems and opportunities. This year a focus will be on fostering community/student relations through experiments and events.

Facilitator of PLT Mike Eramo

Email of Facilitator

Membership Rich Calenzo, Jonathan Levine, Brandon Fleming, Penny Mann, Brian Roecklein

Meeting Dates and Locations Future dates to come.

Exploring Best Educational Practices through Online Media

Description of PLT including Goals and Plans to Disseminate

Educational researchers noted and highly respected educators, and other masters of their respective fields in regard to educational philosophies and teaching practices offer vast and wide varieties of shared digital content. Through this Professional Learning Team, members will explore digital content produced and published by these field experts and collaborate on ways to incorporate their teachings into classrooms and other educational settings. For each meeting, specific media content including, but is not limited to, podcasts, video series through YouTube and TeacherTube, interview series presented on Stitcher, and documentary series to be listened to or watched by PLT members. After watching or listening to the digital content, members of the PLT will unpack the content and discuss modifications and adaptions of the presented of the presented best educational practices. At the end of a series or stand-alone educational presentation, members of the PLT can present their findings of best practices to other teachers in their district or at conferences through discussion panels. Since the nature of this PLT is to explore best educational practices, it is suitable for educators in all content and grade levels.

Facilitator of PLT Nick Darrah

Email of Facilitator

Membership Lisa WInd, Lindsay Ballie, Christine Caloger, Lisa Meschutt, Nichole Sullivan, Kevin Ford

Meeting Dates and Locations October 3 & 17, November 7 & 21

Literacy in STEM

Description of PLT including Goals and Plans to Disseminate

We are a group of educators that love to read and strive to foster a love of reading in our students. PLT participants create and share classroom materials based on books or excerpts from both fiction and non-fiction sources. Increasing literacy skills through reading tasks increase language comprehension and build vocabulary. Our goal is to create a library of activities that are aligned with NGSS and readily usable for classroom teachers. Teachers from all STEM subjects and grade levels are welcome.

Facilitator of PLT Shauna Douglass

Email of Facilitator

Membership Megan Spado, Sarah Elacqua, Jon Levine, Rich Calenzo, Carla Calenzo, Steeves Devlin, Char Mazur, Brian Frantz, Danielle Keefer, Andrew Boyd, Kate Sfier, Michelle Walrath

Meeting Dates and Locations October 9th, 2019 (Utica area)

Exploring Mathematics Through Competition

Description of PLT including Goals and Plans to Disseminate

Academic competitions are a way to build student interest in various levels of mathematics. When meeting for this Professional Learning Team, members will explore and create questions to be used in an academically competitive setting. While writing these questions, participants will draw inspiration from released SAT, ACT, and AP exams, as well as past New York State Regents exams. Members will also work on creating and implementing multiple school competitions.

Facilitator of PLT Nick Darrah

Email of Facilitator

Membership Nick Darrah, Michael Dunn, Mike Stanton, Stephen Costanza

Meeting Dates and Locations October 7, November 4, December 2

Gamification in the Classroom

Description of PLT including Goals and Plans to Disseminate

Our goal is to explore and apply aspects of gamification in the classroom, in an effort to increase student engagement, growth and achievement. We are focusing on learning about and designing ways to gamify aspects of our classroom through book study (Explore Like a Pirate by Michael Matera), monthly meetings and discussions, and participation in applicable workshops. As we design and implement gamified learning experiences in our classrooms, we share and reflect on the outcomes, in an effort to further build a classroom that engages all students and inspires them to work hard and achieve success.

Facilitator of PLT Christina Prokopienko

Email of Facilitator

Membership Christina Prokopienko, Michelle Walrath, and Loreen Hobart.

Meeting Dates and Locations Next meeting is Wednesday November 6. We meet monthly; please e-mail the facilitator for specific future dates.

Griffiss Business and Technology Park Community Connections

Description of PLT including Goals and Plans to Disseminate

Our PLT seeks to increase student, teacher and community exposure to STEM opportunities that are currently available at the Griffiss Business and Technology Park in Rome, New York. Goals and Actions: The Griffiss Business and Technology Park houses many STEM-based businesses and will be used by teachers to encourage relationships between local experts and students. These relationships will strengthen community connections between the school district and local resources, which will increase student exposure, and hopefully interest, in the STEM fields. The goal of our PLT is to increase communication of the potential opportunities for student involvement in STEM camps, internships, externships, as well as future career opportunities. Increased alignment between these opportunities with our school district, local colleges, and local businesses will hopefully ensure gainful employment of local graduates in our local community. Actions to Meet Goals: Collaboration with the Griffiss Institute, Mohawk Valley Edge, Griffiss Air Force Research Lab, Rome City School District Director of Fine Arts and STEM. We are adding collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce and the Mayor this year.

Facilitator of PLT Anthony Spado and Christina Steurrys (Co-facilitator)

Email of Facilitator,

Membership Christina Steurrys, Anthony Spado, Salvatore Carollo, Christine Calogero, Lynne Duffy, Megan Spado, Melissa Richardson, Kayla Foster
Meeting Dates and Locations 10/21, 11/18, 12/16, 1/27, 2/10, 3/16, 4/20, 5/18 @ 2:30 at RFA, 95 Dart Circle, Rome, NY, room 1321

Modeling Student Tolerance: An LGBTQ + PLT

Description of PLT including Goals and Plans to Disseminate

The focus of this PLT will be the study of the book Safe is Not Enough by Michael Sadowski and apply our learning to our classrooms and schools. We will read, reflect upon and discuss our approach to modeling tolerance and acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community within our schools and classrooms, endeavoring to create positive learning environments for all students regardless of their identification. Safe Space training is offered to members in order to help them understand the vocabulary and best practices in helping students dealing with LGBTQ+ issues and concerns, and emphasis will be placed on the acceptance of many types of identities and the understanding necessary to provide support and confidentiality. We will also discuss the impact of gay-straight alliances within schools and the availability of LGBTQ+ friendly literature and resources in our schools. We plan to disseminate our reflections and classroom applications at Open PD, most likely in Spring 2020.

Facilitator of PLT Sarah Elacqua

Email of Facilitator

Membership Sarah Elacqua (facilitator), Lynne Duffy, Christine Calogero, Christina Steurrys, Jenks

Meeting Dates and Locations 10/8, 10/22, 11/5, 11/19, 10/9

POGIL (Process/Project Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning) for Inclusion in K-12 Classroom

Description of PLT including Goals and Plans to Disseminate

POGIL is a student-centered group learning instructional strategy. The objective of this PLT is to explore, implement and assess existing POGILs to determine effectiveness as well as need for modification. Creation of additional POGILs will be explored. We will meet to discuss the POGILs we are considering for use, as well as to evaluate and share how the POGIL activities went in our classes. We will consider ways in which to adapt them to fit our student populations. As we learn the format and process involved in POGIL, we may attempt to create our own POGILs. The goal of this PLT is to provide a shared resource of POGILs for grades K-12 in multiple disciplines. It is the intent of the PLT to make POGILs accessible to all teachers (via shared drive or through the new NYSMT Workplace).

Facilitator of PLT Kathleen Washburn

Email of Facilitator

Membership Kevin Ford, Lisa Meschutt, Kimberly Burkhart, Deborah Henry, Elaine Ojeda, Michele Dunn, Stacey Bennett, Michelle Walrath

Meeting Dates and Locations Thurs 10/24, Thurs 11/14, Thurs 12/5 3:15-4:15 on Google Meet

Using Bootstrap Algebra as a Resource in Algebra 1

Description of PLT including Goals and Plans to Disseminate

This group will learn Bootstrap Algebra. This is an evidence-based curriculum that teaches computer science by integrating computer science into the Algebra I curriculum. Unlike traditional computer science languages, Bootstrap Algebra does not violate mathematical concepts. Our objectives are as follows: (1) to learn Bootstrap Algebra (2) to investigate using the curriculum as summer enrichment for students who have completed Algebra I (3) to investigate using the curriculum as a summer pre-teaching tool for students who will complete Algebra I the subsequent year (4) to investigate using the curriculum as a summer remediation tool for students who have failed Algebra I (5) to write a 1 week summer curriculum to be used with 1 or more of the above mentioned groups. We hope to excite and inspire students by integrating computer science into traditional algebra instruction.

Facilitator of PLT Gary Tinkler and Lisa Alexander (co-facilitator)

Email of Facilitator

Membership Gary Tinkler, Lisa Alexander, Melody Morris, and Eileen Roth
Meeting Dates and Locations 3:30 - 5:30, Whitesboro Middle School: 10/7/19, 11/4/19, 12/2/19, 1/6/20, 2/3/20, 3/2/20

STEM Hikes

Description of PLT including Goals and Plans to Disseminate

This PLT will offer members a chance to plan and tend outings to natural geographic points of interest. While participating, PLT members will share their knowledge and expertise about the STE as it relates to the local natural surroundings and how to best incorporate this knowledge into lessons to be used in STEM classrooms. The information gathered and shared experiences through this PLT will also build networking opportunities between Master Teachers and expert members of the communities where outings will take place.

Facilitator of PLT Nick Darrah

Email of Facilitator

Membership Nick Darrah, Chris Snell, Michelle Walrath, Loreen Hobart, Chuck Rogan, Michele Dunn, Kimberly Burkhart, Jillian Kreppel
Meeting Dates and Locations September 25, 29, and October 26

Back to top