Guest Post: Laura Giuggio, Technology Integration Specialist
In honor of Educator Appreciation Week, Our Favorite Tech Teacher Has Some Sharp Lessons on STEAM Learning
Outside the windows of room C-107 is a dynamic, fast-paced, and ever-changing world full of choices.
Inside, is a classroom dynamic built on project-based learning – solving world problems by investigating and responding to authentic, engaging and complex questions, problems, and challenges through open collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking.
Students and teachers participating in STEAM learning make more real-life connections.
STEAM learning (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) combines real-world problem-solving with project-based learning across many disciplines.
Moving away from an “old-school” computer lab, technology is now integrated into the curriculum. It is no longer taught in isolation. Through STEAM learning, this integration becomes transparent. Rather than teach each discipline as separate and detached subjects, STEAM integrates them and other disciplines into a cohesive learning paradigm based on real-world applications.
Lean your head into room C-107 and you’ll see our elementary students creating and accepting challenges like:
- Building a prototype to detect flooding using Snap Circuits which utilizes science and math skills to solve real world problems
- Constructing an arm, in this case, a coloring marker, on a Dash robot allowing it to draw. This project makes a direct connection to prosthesis bringing together science, math, art and engineering in a fun and creative way
- Programming a Finch robot, where the students estimate distances and then must learn to adjust through trial and error to better meet the challenge, utilizing critical engineering, computer coding and math skills
- Utilizing Green Screen Studio, students record themselves in front of a famous monument and report on its historical significance. This combines critical writing, art and social studies with technical skills; and
- Researching and developing an educational game on Scratch, an MIT developed coding program. Students even include peer feedback – our own student focus group – to get real world creativity experience through coding, engineering and math.
Students are all interacting, all engaged, and it is all autonomous learning.
My role is a facilitator. I lead the students who then become responsible for their own learning. Students quickly learn that everyone is a teacher and their classmates are excellent resources. This starts with students choosing their area to work and then utilizing that design to take learning into their own hands and become self-regulated, independent learners. Perseverance, determination, and empowerment become our classroom mantra.
Students and teachers participating in STEAM learning make more real-life connections. School becomes not a place you go to learn, but the entire experience of learning itself – active learning – in which they are always growing, experimenting, and challenging themselves. Their curriculum is presented in a way that is tangible. Students become immersed in a foundation and a way of thinking that will carry them to the next level in their education and ultimately in their careers.
Responses from our students:
- The challenges help me pay attention to the details
- I learn to break a big problem down to small steps
- It helps me visualize directions
- I’m working on challenges that matter
- Usually there is just one answer, with our STEAM challenges there are many answers!
- One piece can make all the difference
- I figure out ways to make the solution even bigger and better
- I can be so creative!
- I learn to stretch my thinking
- As a group we have to plan and think it through
- It’s fun!
The principles of STEAM – critical thinking, asking good questions, observation and exploration – are truly at the heart of every discipline. So, this type of educational approach encompasses all the subjects, desired higher level thinking skills, and strategies to access deeper learning for our students.
The best part is they are guided to discover it all for themselves!
My Top 5 STEAM sites:
Code.org – Courses to learn coding for all ages – gets the STEAM ball rolling!
STEAM Education – Blog with oodles of ideas for STEAM lessons.
Playdough to Plato – 40 STEAM ideas to try at home – for ages 4 and up.
21st Century Ed Tech – So. Many. Resources. Could investigate this site for days.
Tech Corner – My mentor Sandy Budreau’s site is a great resource. Check out newsletters on the right.
About the Writer:
Laura Giuggio is a Technology Integration Specialist at Center School in Longmeadow, MA. Twenty-six years ago, she began integrating technology through teaching multimedia project design to thirty 8th graders using ONE laptop!! She hasn’t slowed down since (however, she now has more devices). She is the recipient of The 2013 Pioneer Valley Excellence in Teaching Award. Her enthusiasm encourages children to tap into their creativity, take risks, and discover the unknown. Check out her blog Center of Technology and follow her on Twitter @Giugg24.