What I Learned: I learned so much this summer during our MSU Urban STEM Fellowship summer program! I especially learned a lot about using technology as a tool for collaboration, communication and creation. Our two week immersion program was unique, enlightening, meaningful and fun. The sessions provided a balance between discussions, hands-on, administrative and ice-breaker activities. The agenda flowed easily starting with a Day in History and the World of Wonder, which I think are great ways to peak learners’ interest to do research on various topics, and increase knowledge about the world. I loved learning new ways to make learning interesting and fun! From the first day, I felt that I was in for a treat, because I had fun learning. I felt so excited to be a part of this awesome STEM cohort!
Each day we discussed articles. The article discussions shed light on different perspectives. These articles were thought provoking and provided a good professional context for analysis of various topics related to educational pedagogy and technology. A few articles stood out to me. One included article called “Disciplining the Mind” was very interesting and informative about teaching students from a discipline paradigm as opposed to only subject matter. We created skits to depict either subject matter or discipline. I thought this was a great way to infuse a fun and engaging art form as another way to assess student knowledge.
We discussed an article about conceptual change. I learned that students often gain conceptual change unwillingly. We must engage students in the observation, analysis, reflection and decision making processes. Also, the articles “Teaching for Understanding” “Creative Teaching” and “Teaching for Aesthetic Learning” were very enlightening about making learning meaningful for students. I learned that teaching for aesthetic learning helps teach for everyday application and understanding. These articles were relative to my Amazing STEM project and confirmed my belief in utilizing creativity/arts in instruction.
I learned a lot about technology and it uses in education during our “Tech Talks” and cohort assignments. Some technology tools included, plickers, Kahoot, olliclip, Twitter, imgflip.com, facebook, Youtube Video Editor, pixlarl.com and the Surface pen. Plickers allows for a very useful and efficient way of collecting and sharing data. I thoroughly enjoyed learning and applying the online apps - Twitter and Facebook. I currently use these sites for mainly social and informational reasons. I learned that students can use them to share information about themselves and their groups, which they love to do anyway!
We also learned about hashtags and memes. This was the first time that I learned the proper way to utilize hashtags. We created memes to capture essence of key ideas using imgflip.com. This was a great way to make a statement using a unique technology tool!
I used Weebly to create my website to highlight my work as a MSU STEM Fellow. This was my first time creating my own website related to my work as an educator. As I was creating the website, I began to think about how I could show students and teachers at my school how to do the same.
I met with another fellow to discuss STEAM, specifically the integration of dance with science and math. We brainstormed several ways to represent math and science concepts in dance. Some concepts included: cycles in nature: seasons, water cycle, space movement, number sense, and geometry, (patterns, angles, counting, fractions). We discussed connecting math to music, i.e., whole, half, quarter and 8th notes, and the senses that are affected from music and dance such as visual, auditory and kinesthetic.
I learned about utilizing STEAM in other ways: We made masks using various materials and supplies as a “wait time” strategy and tool for sharing identity. I thought this was a great way to build upon students’ self identity, integrate art and utilize transition time. Here’s mine:
Another arts integration activity was finding letters in the real world as representations of letters in the real world, which were ultimately used to create the phrase: “GREAT IDEAS:”
Guests and Field Trips:
Second City helped us learn how to apply improvisation techniques to teaching. This was interesting and insightful. I learned some very fun and useful techniques that I can use with students and teachers, including: “Yes...and” - this activity helps validate others’ ideas; “No, but”; “Walk and Jump,” “Story Creations in a Line;” “Panel of Experts” and “Scene Creation with Babbling.” The activities were simple, fun, engaging and applicable in the classroom.
I learned to make field trips even more fun and memorable for students. At the Museum of Science and Industry, we took pics to represent our Imagine It Big Ideas and completed a WOW booklet to express what connections we made and and wonders we had while at the museum. I also learned about museum resources for teachers and students.
How/why does this matter to me?
This experience matters greatly to me because it is very applicable to my role as a STEM Specialist and Instructional Coach. I can apply what I’ve learned to my teaching in the STEM Lab and with professional development and coaching. Ultimately, the information and knowledge gained will help me to grow as an educational leader in STEM.
How will this past summer influence me in the future?
This summer has influenced me greatly. I believe this experience has helped me to have a more research-driven mindset and be a more reflective learner and instructor. I feel more versed in technology and open to using more technology-based and creative instructional strategies with students and teachers.
How has this experience changed what I think about teaching (if at all)?
This experience has changed my view of teaching in that I thought that incorporating various creative and technological ideas and strategies could be too intimidating and difficult to achieve. However, I now look at it as timely, innovative, practical, fun, meaningful and relative to 21st century learning. This experience was also a great reminder of the importance of consistent reading of professional teaching articles. I had become somewhat disconnected from this best practice until now. Reading, discussing and analyzing professional articles helps us to reflect and reminds us of why we should implement best practices and the effects on our students.
What am I taking from this experience and how can I use that when I go back to my classroom? I expect to utilize the various technology tools with students and teachers to help manage instructional activities, build capacity for learning, support communication, share ideas, enhance motivation and assess knowledge and understanding of concepts. One instructional strategy that I will implement is the Tech Talk. I will primarily conduct this strategy with teachers to help them build knowledge and confidence with utilizing technology in instruction.
I plan to make technology a more practical and meaningful aspect of student and teacher life. Students will continue to utilize Google Apps, such as Drive and Classroom. I will also use plickers for informal assessments and engaged learning. Students and teachers will build websites to display projects and share instructional information. Lastly, I want to utilize Twitter and Storify for collaboration and as a communication tool for sharing classroom experiences and resources.
I also look forward to incorporating various ways to assess student learning. I want to give students access and agency to content knowledge and utilize culturally responsive assessment strategies that will help students exhibit knowledge and levels of understanding.
I look forward to learning more about professional research in STEM and how to make learning more engaging and meaningful for students. I am gearing up to start my Amazing STEM unit on “STEMulating Dance” and to begin my deep dive with problem-based learning.
Ultimately, I look forward to learning and growing as a STEM educational professional. I am eager to learn more about how to apply this knowledge and how to effectively plan instructional experiences that will be innovative and effective. I look forward to working with my deep play group and the MSU cohort as we hone our skills in STEM implementation. I also look forward to sharing articles and ideas with other teachers to help them expand their knowledge about various educational topics and make paradigm shifts that will lend to the application of STEM best practices leading the development of 21st century ready learners.