As we approach the fall, many districts are working diligently to find solutions to continue STEAM at home. While we know that students learn from hands-on activities and educators certainly can make suggestions about how parents can help at home, there are also ways teachers can present the concepts of STEAM as they instruct remotely.
The areas of S(cience), T(echnology), E(ngineering), A(rt) and M(ath) have been focal points for education for some time. In a traditional classroom, teachers integrate these areas throughout lessons and by incorporating other technologies (3D printers, programmable robots, cardboard challenges, building materials, etc.) in order to expose students to this way of learning. The areas of the brain that are activated using these methods, however, can certainly be just as active outside of the classroom.
First, teachers will need to suspend the notion that the ACTIVITY will be similar and focus on the goals and outcomes. Take the example of a cardboard challenge. Students are designing a structure in order to solve a problem. A teacher could certainly recreate this type of thinking and provide these opportunities. The guiding principle behind STEAM is inquiry. Using various inquiry types throughout lessons with authentic media learning opportunities will allow students to become problem-solvers and engage in higher levels of thinking and inquiry.
Additionally, many companies are using virtual labs which address standards, grade levels and have a plethora of resources available. For example, MyStemKits provides users with standards-aligned lessons, assessments and guides that allow the students to explore and the teacher to facilitate. Districts can further explore these options at boxlight.com/robo.
This school year will be unlike any other; STEAM thinking and activities do not have to be another stressor for your teachers. If you are looking for additional solutions, please feel free to reach out and DAT is happy to help.
Over the past few months, we have all become very familiar with the phrase “Together, Apart.” For teachers, this adjustment has created a major shift in our teaching strategies and methods. Many teachers are learning technology integration at a faster pace than they ever had to anticipate; and (for the most part) they are doing this work alone.
As a former instructional technology coach, I can tell you there is no one teacher that knows every piece of software, every APP or every STEM project that could work for every teachers’ classroom. Technology changes every day and it can be daunting to assume that you will be able to keep up with all of it on your own.
In the past, you would walk down the hall and find the technology specialist, teacher, or administrator that you know can help you. Today, that is not an option.
Teachers, being the innovators and collaborators they are, flock to social media to create Think-Tanks and share resources with one another. Below are some of the groups and resources that I find most helpful.
As students come back this fall, the vigilance to clean classroom technology is another area teachers are going to be paying closer attention to. Anybody using a Chromebook used often by an early elementary student can tell you that sticky keyboards happen frequently and often. This guide contains recommendations for organizations to ensure they are making their best effort at keeping devices safe and clean for use. Your organization may wish to add to these measures, as this guide in no way serves as a prescription, but rather a guide to creates processes to limit cross-contamination through devices.
Every year educators face the inevitable issue of addressing summer learning loss. This year, as schools have been disconnected from parents and children for an increasing amount of time, keeping those learning opportunities and lines of communication open may be more important than ever.
Many organizations, such as Camp PBS Learning Media have already created opportunities for students to continue to engage in learning but also interact with the world around them.
While others, like Reading Rockets, provides free resources for families and students to use.
Yet another way to explore this summer is through a virtual field trip. Depending on the platform, parents could even consider streaming these on his or her TV and educators could use their ProColor Boxlight Interactive Panel to attend and record out these trips as well.
In an effort to find field trips you can interact with throughout the summer, I have included a calendar with a link to each field trip in this post.
In an age in which so much is going on, many teachers wonder not only how to have conversations with students about current events but also how to frame the educational technology used around these times. For example, a third grade teacher may be worried about assigning a research project and allowing students to use the internet for fear that this opens the door for misuse of the internet.
This is something I have heard from teachers of every age group and in every school setting, regardless of my role.
And while every district has an “Acceptable Use Policy” or guidelines for use, it does not seem to stop the fear that students will be exposed to material in the classroom on the teacher’s time. That is a walk to the principal’s office that nobody wants to take.
As a former secondary teacher, I can say that it was an opportunity for me to get students engaged in the learning process. When teaching students how to write about a “Critical Societal Issue” we spent more time talking about why these were issues, what they thought, what was respectful dialogue and what would and would not be accepted than we did on the actual computer doing research.
All of these seventh grade students were also being faced with the Flint Water Crisis not only in their backyard, but from their own sinks. Two families from our school made national headlines for advocacy about this issue. I could not, in good conscience, ask them to write about school uniforms.
Often, as educators, we can be bombarded with the newest, latest and greatest of: strategies, assessment, software, devices, philosophies, political ideals.... the list goes on.
One of these new initiatives is technology implementation. While it can often feel like device and behavior management that accompanies technology may be more hassle than it’s worth, we also have to prepare students for a technology dependent world both in and out of the educational setting.
That is why it is important to use technology in ways that work best for you and your students; technology use in not prescriptive.