Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Inspiring Poughkeepsie Day: From STEM to STEAM and Beyond!

My colleague, Susan Cherwinski,  and I took the three-hour drive early yesterday morning to attend Poughkeepsie Day School's day-long STEM to STEAM and Beyond workshop.

Josie Holford, Head of the Poughkeepsie Day School, warmly greeted us upon arrival. I was inspired by the school's inviting, bright spaces which reminded me of the obligation we have as school communities to create comfortable, welcoming learning spaces for all students.

Later, Pam Moran, Superintendent of the Albermarle County Public Schools in Virginia and her colleague, Alison Dwier-Selden, an Albermarle Middle School Principal, gave the keynote address which encouraged all of us to move our schools forward by remaking our schools for new learning today and the world of tomorrow. Both Pam and Alison, courageous, visionary leaders, gave us a window to Albermarle's thoughtful change process and the engaging learning spaces and activities that prompt students to construct knowledge in multiple engaging ways. I was especially inspired by the way they transformed their library, classrooms, and common spaces in a variety of ways to inspire student engagement and learning. I was also moved by their process and the many activities that engage students in constructing knowledge.

Many, many wonderful ideas were shared by Pam and Allison as well as all the talented presenters and participants throughout the day.  I captured many links and ideas in the Storify Tweet story below--ideas and links I'll return to in the weeks to come. 

In the meantime, my immediate takeaways from the day include the following:
  • Remaking my teaching space this summer with magnetic, white board paint, new furniture, and varied learning spaces.
  • Enriching my "beautiful junk" space for creation and innovation.
  • Creating a number of thoughtful, interdisciplinary STEAM learning events for the students.
  • Rethinking the year's learning choreography with increased attention to early year learning to learn units, student voice, invention and creation. 
  • Attention to the details of teaching children well and developing an engaging, updated student-centered program.