I worked with three Grade 9 English teachers to develop this tableau vivant project where students depicted scenes from Romeo and Juliet. One teacher had done a similar project before where students took still images to represent scenes, but we took it up a notch by compiling them in iMovie, adding background music, having students recite the lines, and adding subtitles. This project really brought out a visually creative side to studying Shakespeare and allowed students who have strong photography and editing backgrounds really shine.
Putting the A in STEAM has become a particular passion for me, and I’m always looking for opportunities to fuse the arts and STEM. As we look to close the gender gap, it is important to incorporate fine arts into STEAM learning to get more girls involved. Also, gamification mixed with STEAM and the arts ropes in certain students who may not be motivated in traditional methods. Composing music using a unique platform like Minecraft allows students to work with something they are passionate about while learning the core skills of creating original pieces of music.
Teacher Betty Lin and I worked with another teacher, Samuel Wright, who has been using Minecraft in his music classes for quite awhile. Collaborating on a project with another teacher living in Austria has been a great opportunity professionally for both of us!
I worked with Grade 7 English teachers Gina Zlaket and Shannon Conant to create informational text websites for their non-fiction unit. I went into their classes and did tutorials to teach students how to create a website using WordPress. Students also created Podcasts to include in their websites. Please watch the video below to hear how the students and teachers felt about this project.
I did a presentation yesterday to the High School faculty about what me as a tech coach could do for them. During this presentation, I showed a picture of a class that I worked with where we used Sphero robots to code in non-native Chinese classes. As soon as I put up the slide a teacher said (with a hint of cynicism), “What value would that add to learning Chinese?” It took me back for a second, but since I had made a reflective video about the project I had already thought about the benefits it had to learning.
Although strictly speaking, coding doesn’t have much to do with Chinese language learning, it created an authentic learning experience for the students. If anyone has every tried to learn a second language, we all know how repetitive and boring it can be to talk about menus, greetings, and directions. This provided students with new vocabulary and experiential learning while speaking Chinese and using the Chinese interface in the app. They troubleshooted and helped each other when they couldn’t understand why a line of code didn’t work the way they wanted it to, and because of the way coding works, it provided a clear step-by-step process that could be edited easily on the fly when something didn’t work. Remember, this was all happening with teachers and students speaking Chinese.
Although this seemed obvious to me, it’s important to remember as an instructional coach that part of our job is to educate and reinforce the importance of authentic, experiential learning. What we might be used to seeing and doing might not be something that others have seen or done before. Meeting teachers where they are and helping them understand the rationale is an important step in the coaching process.
I worked on this project with a middle school teacher, Tami Cutter. We tested different software, she decided what students would be expected to do (each create a plant or animal cell, label it, and paint it). Then we co-taught the initial lesson where she focused on learning goals and I focused on technical abilities in 123D Design and Tinkercad. Students collaborated and helped each other problem solve when they didn’t know how to do something (and neither did I!) like splitting a shape or taking our pieces of it. When they were done, students voted on the best two designs per class and one of our IT support experts taught the kids how to use the printers. After they were printed, students worked together to paint the models.
Asking students to reflect on the project and debriefing with the teacher are important steps in the coaching process. Creating this culminating video not only gives us a unique artifact, but allows us to stop and think about the awesome work we achieved as a team and how much the students learned.
After an exciting weekend in Hong Kong at the 21st Century Learning conference, I’ve been thinking a lot about girls in STEAM. I was happy to hear a lot of presentations about girls in STEAM/STEM and also conversations with other women who believe in empowering women to pursue leadership in education.
Learning more about the why girls typically don’t pursue STEM subjects has really helped me define my own “Why”. The one point that Sylvia Martinez made in her presentation, Girls in STEM: Inclusion, Equity, Action that really stuck was that when all our STEM clubs involve a competition or robots pushing things off tables we lose the girls.
The examples I’m going to share show how we can involve girls in STEAM education without needing to force them into areas they aren’t interested in. Allowing girls to design clothing with wearable LEDs or 3D printed jewelry to be showcased at a fashion show will create more buzz than a robotics competition. Brittany Morgan at Shekou International School has done amazing things in this field. Connecting with her has given me numerous examples for how we can do this at AISG.
Other examples below show women who have created art installations with copper LED paper circuits and coding wearable gloves to make music for to be performed using physical movements. These are all non-traditional forms of STEAM that I believe will generate more excitement around the subject for girls.
I’ve been touting the process of failure all year, especially when it comes to the design process and learning how to use our new toys (especially the 3D printers). But like George says, no one remembers the hundreds or thousands of people who tried and failed at something, we remember the people who finally succeed.
Although embracing failure is a huge part of innovative designing and thinking we cannot let teachers or students stop there. The process is not complete until some form of success happens. That may look differently depending on the project, topic, or person, but a sense of accomplishment is the ultimate goal.
As an instructional coach, a huge challenge of the job is to get people to try new things. If they only try something new once and it fails, I might be out of a job pretty quickly. Being ready with a plan b, c, d, etc is a must. If not ready with a new plan, ready to meet again and hash out what went wrong and how it can be improved.
Furthermore, even if a project is successful it’s important to revisit the planning stage each year. Technology grows at such a rapid rate that if we don’t continually edit and revise what we are doing we will quickly become out of date.
One thing that can be difficult about my job is helping people understand my role and what I can do for them and the school.
Short answer: I can do anything!
Longer answer: Watch the video below. I’ve been working to curate some of the work as a Middle/High school Tech coach at AISG to date.
In 2015, I applied and was accepted to be an Apple Distinguished Educator. It was during my time working as an 8th grade math teacher in a dual-language Korean international school in Seoul.
Take a look at my application video! Editing and photo quality could use some work but glad to see it’s something I am getting better at.
I joined George Couros’s #IMMOOC this year because it’s a book I’ve always wanted to read fully and wanted the motivation of a group to do it. I’ve been working on a personal statement/manifesto about my thoughts on innovation in education today, particularly related to STEM/STEAM learning. I am hoping to be finished with it when #IMMOOC is complete and will publish it here later.
Our school recently started an Innovation Initiative where we’ve opened a new Inno Lab with 3D printers, vinyl cutters, raspberry pi’s, arduinos, and more. Being my first year at AISG and walking into this new initiative was exciting but also put a lot of pressure on our tech department to deliver.
I’ve learned to embrace the process of innovating rather than creating something innovative itself. Fail fast and hard is a big part of the process. If you can’t come to terms with failing, innovation can be difficult to achieve.
I recently came across this amazing video from Shanghai American School where they showcase their Innovation Institute. Needless to say I was in awe and completely inspired. We aren’t there yet but it’s a good goal to reach for moving forward. Take a look.