Mobile STEAM Lab Part II
Description of Grant
As a part of the 2016 Institute for Innovation Grant, we created a Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (S.T.E.A.M.) Lab for students and teachers to provide materials and professional development support to implement S.T.E.A.M. activities. Through co-teaching, teachers report they are more equipped to implement S.T.E.A.M. lessons on their own and have a better understanding of how to integrate multiple subjects while also addressing the new Mountain Brook Science Standards. We observed a renewed excitement for teaching and learning with increased student engagement, creative problem solving skills, innovation, resourcefulness, and collaboration. Because the initial setup and understanding of the instructional design of these types of activities often seem overwhelming, having a co-teacher who is present for classroom implementation helped minimize the fear of failure and promoted a willingness to take risks.
We also reflected on what worked while also reviewing options that would assure continued success. While we celebrate an increase in teacher preparation, one component that remains needed is parent education. We want parents to understand the “why” behind the S.T.E.A.M. Lab. We plan to provide training sessions to explain S.T.E.A.M., the new Mountain Brook Science Standards, and why the shift in this area is crucial for our students. We hope to springboard from Sir Ken Robinson’s presentation this March. His belief that, “We don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it. Or rather, we are educated out of it” has definitely struck a chord with us. Parents are accustomed to having their child receive “study guides” for science content and dedicating time to memorizing facts and details. Instead, we want them to learn strategies to empower their children to become critical thinkers and problem solvers and give them opportunities to innovate, build confidence, promote teamwork, take risks, foster creativity and curiosity, instill a “growth mindset” – not just at school, but also at home.
We are excited that this endeavor fully supports our new District Goal #1: Ensure a comprehensive and cohesive system that results in increased student, staff, and community commitment to and ownership of the purpose of the district.
The second part of this proposal addresses continued teacher development. Many of our teachers have requested co-teaching assistance; however, time demands have become difficult and we have not been able to meet these needs. We are proposing an adjustment to the current model to accommodate two facilitators – one for K-3 and one for 4-6. These two teachers are Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Lead Teachers and have found that the PLTW curriculum further addresses our school-wide beliefs that profound learning occurs when creativity and innovation are promoted; authentic experiences are valued; deep understanding is developed; critical thinking, problem solving, and perseverance are expected. PLTW also uses the engineering and design process found in our current STEMscopes curriculum as well as the S.T.E.A.M. framework. With PLTW, facilitators will be able to work with each team of teachers to supplement our current curriculum with more rigorous learning that empowers students to develop the knowledge to formulate solutions to real-world problems.
What Happened Over the Course of the Grant
Work of Both Science Facilitators
- Created shared documents with easy to read ALCOS and MB Science Standards for ALL grades (K-6)
- DOK Level for each standard
- Differences in language/rigor
- Correlated with STEMscopes Units
- Correlated with PLTW Units
- Additional resources that can be used to teach each standard
- Created a collaborative document for Scope & Sequence for ALL grades (K-6)
- Within this document, STEM resources have been aligned with all Science, Language Arts, and Math Standards K-6. All documents can be found here: https://www.mtnbrook.k12.al.us/Page/17017
- Ordered and delivered new PLTW materials purchased with grant funds
- Saved all PLTW materials from Canvas (PLTW moved to a different LMS this year)
- Created (from Scratch) an easy to follow small group rotation schedule that incorporates STEAM centers as well as grouping students according to pre-assessment data
- Created a School-Wide Overview of progress in each grade in the areas of growth mindset, Project Lead the Way, and Computer Science. We included specific areas in each grade level that needed extra focus for the 2018-19 School Year.
- Created Presented a Growth Mindset session for parents.
K-3 Science Facilitator (McClung)
- Integrated Growth Mindset lessons into primary-level PLTW unit that teaches the engineering design process
- Modeled lessons in 1st Grade: Haley, Black
- Developed a series of growth mindset lessons for use in Kindergarten. Modeled lessons in ALL Kindergarten classrooms.
- Developed initial Claim, Evidence, Reasoning (CER) Lessons for 2nd and 3rd and modeled lessons: Mitchell and Carter
- Developed structure for Science Journal for Units 1 and 2 in STEMscopes (3rd Grade)
- Developed Lessons to Teach Design Process (How to Design a Robot) in 3rd All lessons were taught to all 3rd grade classes.
- Trained two 2nd grade teachers (Barringer and J. Haley) in PLTW using co-teaching and modeling of Materials Science: Structure and Function unit. Teachers were trained and achieved PLTW teacher certification through this job-embedded PD, rather than through a 16 hour PD course.
- Trained all 3rd grade science teachers in PLTW with Stability and Motion: Forces and Interactions as well as Variation of Traits.
- Facilitated student learning using the Coding Curriculum that accompanied our class set of Dash and Dot Robots to the entire group of 3rd grade students through Exploration.
- Created an after school coding club for 2nd and 3rd McClung trained and additional 3rd grade teacher (Mitchell to use Code.Org, Scratch, and Dash and Dot Curriculum so that this club could accommodate twice as many students. (We took 40 students – over 60 were interested!)
4-6 Science Facilitator (A. Anderson)
- Facilitated 5th and 6th Science PLC Meeting
- Developed standards based gradebook for 4th Grade Math
- Developed standards based gradebook for 4th Grade Science (according to Science Practice Standards)
- Leads 4th Grade Math/Science PLC to separate items by standard on all assessments in Math and Science in order to give a standards based grade (4, 3, 2, 1) on each area assessed.
- Co-taught PLTW Units in McKerley/O’Neill daily. All 4th grade PLTW units were taught and teachers were trained: Human Brain, Computer Systems, Energy Collisions, and Energy Conversions)
- Built VEX IQ Robot and participating in continuous learning on coding VEX robots in preparation for 5th PLTW unit.
- Attended Wednesday and Thursday Robotics Team Meetings every week at the Jr. High. Crestline has 3 teams compete on a regular basis. One team won at the State level and two teams attended the World Competition in Kentucky. One team came in 4th in their division.
- Developed a more structured science journal that follows the procedures and activities in PLTW Modules: Human Brain and Input/Output Computer Systems
- Organized Solar Eclipse Viewing and resources school-wide
- Assisted A. Johnson with 5th grade PLTW Unit on Robotics and Animation.
- Modeled lessons with OSMO in Art (Fowler). Art teacher was then able to utilize this resource on her own for future lessons.
What You Learned
- Modeling/Co-teaching entire PLTW units with teachers is highly effective! Rather than sitting though a 16 hour PD on PLTW, teachers were able to see, daily, how each lesson was structured and how scaffolding learning in a project-based format truly engages both students and teachers. Teachers felt more comfortable implementing these lessons with the added support of another classroom teacher. Teachers were able to have thoughtful reflection and conversations following lessons. Students regained excitement for learning in science because they began to make real-world connections and connections to their learning in other subject areas. Teachers began to see that science was more than reading non-fiction text and memorizing terms and definitions. Parents e-mailed frequently to let the teachers know how much their children were enjoying school, specifically science!
- Splitting our day between “facilitating” and teaching was extremely difficult. In theory, we had hoped that we could dedicated 50% of our time to our classroom duties and 50% to facilitating. What we found is that our classroom/grade level duties ended up taking up about 75% of our time. While we accomplished many of our goals, the 25% that was left for facilitating didn’t allow us to be as effective as we had planned. We wanted to reach more teachers!
- Our schedule allowed McClung to teach 3rd grade Math/Science in the AM and facilitator K-3 in the afternoon. I facilitated 4-6 in the afternoon and taught 4th grade Math/Science in the PM. What we found is that some 4-6 grade teachers needed me to come at times I wasn’t available and K-3 teachers needed Amanda to come at times she wasn’t available. This limited our reach and was frustrating for us and teachers who requested help.
- We realized we needed a continuum of what computer science looked like at each grade level. The updated Computer Science and Digital Literacy Standards have really helped with that this year and we are continuing to analyze them.
- We were able to have a successful Growth Mindset Parent meeting, but had a small turnout. We really feel that it is important to educate parents on this as well. We are looking for ways to get more parents involved in learning about this concept and how changing the language we use with kids can help positively impact their mindset toward learning.
- We recommend having a full-day facilitating position. This would allow the STEM facilitator to be more flexible and available at the times that work for classroom teachers. It would also allow the facilitator to dedicate 100% of his/her time to co-teaching/modeling.
- Co-teaching/Modeling is the best way to facilitate positive change in teaching and learning in this area (STEM and Project Based Learning in Science). The STEM facilitator must remain an active and visible part of the school environment. We do not recommend the STEM facilitator taking the role of a “specials” teacher where the students come once or twice a week. The teaching needs to happen within the students’ regular classrooms and the classroom teacher needs to be present for the entire lessons and activities throughout the entire unit. Our goal is to “blur” the lines that separate the subject areas and get teachers and students to see that they are using multiple skills across several disciplines to accomplish a successful project.
- STEM facilitators need to develop a partnership with the school tech coordinators. In many instances, especially in the area of computer science, the traditional role of the tech coordinator and new STEM facilitator overlap. A good working relationship between the two is vital to the success of implementation of new educational technology and computer science standards in all grades.
- I believe that a dedicated, full time STEM facilitator at each elementary school is the absolute best model, however, I know staffing is a concern. At Crestline, our administration was able to use one of the units we receive for an academic Interventionist to allow for two half-time STEM facilitators. This year (2018-19), since McClung married and moved out of district, our admin was able to once again creatively use one of our units to provide one full-time STEM facilitator position. I have been able to accomplish exponentially more in the first nine weeks of this school year than last year. My schedule has been filled with teacher requests, I spend 90% of my day in classrooms across the school, teaching and modeling.
- Accomplished so far this year (as of 10/5/18)
- Modeled a beginning of the year growth mindset lesson to 24 classrooms (1st – 4th)
- Trained the new 4th grade teacher using the PLTW Unit Human Brain. I have been in her classroom daily from 8:00 – 9:00 modeling lessons. She then replicates the same lesson in the afternoon.
- Trained another 4th grade teacher to use PLTW Computer Science unit during Exploration. All of the 4th grade students will rotate through this year.
- Modeled lessons in all 3rd grade science classes to teach students how to use Claim, Evidence, Reasoning to develop a scientific explanation/argument.
- Modeled design process lessons in all 3rd grade science classes to teach the Engineering Design Process
- Worked with PAGE teacher to implement LEGO WeDo 2.0 Resource with 3rd grade page students.
- Currently working with 3rd grade teacher to begin implementation of PLTW Computer Science Module, Programming Patterns, during 3rd grade Exploration time. All 3rd grade students will rotate through this Exploration this year.
- Currently working with 2nd grade teacher to begin implementation of PLTW Computer Science Module, Grids and Games, during 2nd grade Exploration time. All 2nd grade students will rotate through this Exploration this year.
- My current year schedule can be found here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1og8oOImunQzrR56KIWvyEpbm295Vo6VtDe4NpEHMTsk/edit?usp=sharing (All of the prior weeks are “hidden” so only the current week shows. All hidden weeks can be accessed by “un-hiding” tabs at the bottom of the page.)
- Upcoming Work:
- Implement use of Bee Bots into K-2 Science, Math, and Language Arts Centers.
- Train six 2nd grade teachers in PLTW Materials Science: Form and Function
- Help 2nd grade teachers with the 5E Model and STEMscopes. Find creative ways to access time in their day to dedicate to teaching science curriculum.
- Train new 3rd grade teacher in PLTW Stability and Motion as well as Variation of Traits
- Continue to model/co-teach the remaining two PLTW modules with the new 4th grade math/science teacher.
- Investigate ways to incorporate more computer science and robotics in 6th
- Integrate more STEAM in the Media Center
- Offer additional growth mindset sessions for parents
- Continue Science PD by investigating Cross-Cutting Concepts with teams of teachers.
- Continue to add STEM resources to documents on web-page in an effort to reach more teachers across disciplines.
- Created shared documents with easy to read ALCOS and MB Science Standards for ALL grades (K-6)