Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Wayland Institutes 2016: STEAM Day One

The Marshmallow Challenge was great fun
and great learning too. 
At the tired end of the year, I was worried about attending The Wayland Institutes. Would I have the energy to present and partake after a very busy (and positive) end to the school year, I wondered. I'm sure I was not alone.

Yet, I did make it to the event, and I'm so glad that I did. While the Institutes come after a busy school year, I can't imagine a better time to plan the event. And the level of effort that goes into making the Institutes' successful is exemplary.

The Wayland Institutes are positive for the following reasons:
  • The event features wonderful speakers who help educators to develop and enrich their craft.
  • The event takes place in a brand new, modern high school setting that's welcoming and works very well with regard to the Institute's agenda of whole group meetings and small group workshops and conversations.
  • The event invites local educators to share their expertise with each other--we learn from our colleagues in Wayland and nearby systems.
  • The event is well organized including a tasty lunch and morning coffee and snacks.
  • The event offers interested educators salary credit and professional development points.
  • It's a good place to connect with like-minded educators.
To teach well, it's essential to make time for worthy teaching/learning events. The challenge today, in this regard, is the fact that there are limitless opportunities for professional learning online and offline. Further challenges include day care costs for many educators who balance family life with their professional work, and there is also the challenge of what's the best time to put on an event like this.

Today's presentation by #curiouscrewrob, Rob Stephenson, was terrific. Stephenson is an expert when it comes to STEAM teaching. 

He introduced and discussed many, many ideas, examples, and projects with regard to STEAM/STEM teaching and learning, ideas I've captured, in part, below with Storify.

Rob Stephenson is founder and host of  "Curious Crew."
The break-out sessions included another round of learning with Rob, a wonderful chance to try out the design process led by our Middle School Art/STEAM teacher, Peter Curran, and a chance to have a conversation with colleagues about the Team in STEAM. 

I left the day with many ideas that I want to try out.

First, for STEAM activities, I want to give students a chance to explore and gain familiarity with materials first. And, as Rob suggests, I'll mainly move the process from a chance for children to try to solve a problem on their own first to collaborative problem solving/design and then to STEAM class meetings, and after that, chances for children to re-design as well.

I also want to develop greater TEAM (Together Everyone Achieves More) during STEAM and math teaching times. To do this prior to the STEAM study, I'll focus on what it means to be a good team player with the attributes above. I'll also introduce the students to possible STEAM roles. Then as students study and learn with hands-on activities, they'll have a chance to try out all the STEAM roles as one way to know what it takes to be a collaborative, successful learner. This skill will translate into increased skills, the ability to get along with others, and career choice in the future too.

During our TEAM talk we discussed models in schools that support positive collegial/student teams. We looked at ways to discuss teams with regard to whole school think and practice too. It was clear that there are many ways to foster team, and that it's important to look for ways to foster a sense of team with one another throughout school.

Tomorrow we'll return for more STEAM study as well.