Professional development opportunities for teachers can usually go one of two ways. Teachers find value and are excited about the learning during the PD, or teachers are bored as they sit through a PD that they either do not need or have heard before. part of my role this school year is to plan PD that is meaningful for teachers at the three school that I support. Much of the PD will revolve around Project Lead the Way (our new science curriculum) and the transition to Google Apps.
This month I organized an EdTech Professional Development for teachers at my three sites. The PD took place in the afternoon of a minimum day, and provided three sessions with lots of variety for teachers to choose. My goal was to give teachers choice in their learning so that they can take what they need and apply it in the classroom immediately. Organizing an event like this can be overwhelming, especially if you are doing it alone. Below I will outline the steps that I took to plan my EdTech PD event.
I began by surveying the teachers about what they needed/wanted in a PD. I created a simple Google Form for teachers to fill out that would show me what sessions I needed to include. I asked the principals at all three sites to send out the Form for me, so that (hopefully) more teachers would fill it out. I gave teachers about 1.5 weeks to complete the form, sending out a reminder email (or two).
Part of the Form included a questions about presenting a session. This was my call for volunteers, or at least my way of seeing if anyone was interested in presenting/leading a session. There were about 8 teachers that volunteered to present a session or two. That was great! I contacted those teachers to confirm the sessions that they would be comfortable leading. I even reached out to a few district level coordinators to ask them to present too!
Once I had my results from the Form and had confirmed with my presenters, I began planning the session schedule. This part was a little tricky, since I wanted to keep presenters doing multiple sessions in the same classroom. I moved the sessions and presenters around like a puzzle until the pieces fit. I also created descriptions of the sessions, so that the attendees could choose the session that was right for them.
I shared (emailed) the Schedule and Description with the teachers who would be attending about 5 days before the event. I wanted them to start planning out their afternoon, so that they could make the most of their time.
A few days before the event, I confirmed the room numbers and double-checked the technology available in those rooms (projector, connections, desktop, etc.). I also worked with the administrator at the hosting site to purchase snacks (water bottles, trail mix, granola bars) and chocolate for the day of the PD. Once everything was planned and set up, I sent a final email out to teachers (the morning of the PD) with all of the attachments they would need - schedule, descriptions, kick off slides, self-paced learning slides. I spent the morning of the PD organizing the snacks, printing out signs and maps, getting Chromebooks ready for teacher checkout, and organizing last minute details. Then, all that was left was to wait for the teachers and the PD to begin!
I recently volunteered to write a BLOG post for the San Diego CUE organization. I focused on some easy ways to create virtual reality content in the classroom. Check out my BLOG post HERE.
On May 24th, the Classroom of the Future Foundation held their annual Innovation in Education event, where teachers, schools, and districts from around San Diego were honored. The event was hosted at Sea World, with incredible food and drinks, raffle prizes, student displays, and a fabulous award ceremony. It was really exciting to hear about all of the innovative programs happening in and around San Diego county and to network with other like-minded educators.
I was extremely honored to be chosen by SDCUE as the (1st ever) Innovative TOSA, and received my award at this event.
May 19th was the 2nd Annual STEMfest at Stuart Mesa elementary. This event provided an opportunity for 6th - 8th grade students to share and present their learning with family and community members. The STEM-focused projects ranged from Virtual Reality to Scratch coding to Aeronautics. Students displayed their STEM notebooks, model or prototype, and a tri-fold board with information about their project and their process. As visitors approached the tri-fold board, students were expected to share their work for approximately 2-3 minutes, answering questions and demonstrating their prototype. The event was overall a celebration of the students' hard work and learning this school year.
Special thanks to community members at the event, including representatives from Oceanside Unified School District, the Marine Corps General of the Camp Pendleton base, and Assembly member Rocky Chavez. You helped to provide an authentic audience for our students to present their learning, and we are grateful for your attendance.
Today was Science Discovery Day at our school, which is an annual event, organized by an amazing third grade teacher at our site. Students in grades 1-5 get to attend 3 hands-on science sessions and are in small mixed grade level groups. In the STEM Lab I had the 3-5th grade students create squishy circuits, for their Science rotation with me. If you have never heard of Squishy Circuits, you are missing out!!
Students used conductive dough, battery packs, and LEDs to create series and parallel circuits in the STEM Lab. I did a mini lesson (10-15 minutes) describing a circuit and the flow of electricity. I modeled how to create basic circuit, discussed safety procedures, then let them loose!
If you would like to hear more about how I use Squishy Circuits in the STEM Lab, leave me a comment below. You can also check out the Squishy Circuit website.
Last year (2016) was the first annual STEMfest for Stuart Mesa elementary students. The event was an opportunity for Middle School students to share their learning from the STEM Lab with parents, classmates, and the community. It was the first time that I had ever organized a student showcase, and although it was highly successful, I have some ideas for improving this year's event.
Today in STEM Lab, students began to think about and research their projects for this year's STEMfest. There was a lot of excitement and brainstorming happening, and I'm really excited to see the projects that the kids are planning. I gave students a link to sciencebuddies.org to help them brainstorm and check out possible project ideas.
The students do the bulk of the work for the STEMfest. However, as the organizer of the event, I have my fair-share of work too! Some changes that I will be making to the event this year include:
Friday, May 19th from 5:30 - 7:30 pm
For the past few weeks, the 4th and 5th grade classes at Stuart Mesa have been building roller coasters in the STEM Lab, using mini K'Nex kits. I was able to purchase the kits for the STEM Lab with a grant from Genentech and the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce. Building the roller coasters has been a fantastic experience for the students so far! There have been moments of frustration, perseverance, and celebration amongst the students. Some students even discovered a building talent which they didn't know they had!
The science concepts that we've been focusing on with this unit are some basic physics topics - kinetic and potential energy, gravity, inertia, friction, etc. We have also focused on math concepts, such as finding the mean speed of your roller coaster, measuring the track length, and the height.
The Ozobots have been a big hit at Stuart Mesa this year! I have used them quite a bit with grades K-2 to teach coding, problem solving skills, and the 4Cs (communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking).
Mrs. Engel's 1st grade class has really taken off with the Ozobots!! I have been working with them about 1-2 times a week to practice coding with the Ozobots. One student in Mrs. Engel's class discovered that there is currently an Ozobot contest where you have to send Ozobot on Vacation!! Mrs. Engel's class decided that they would like to send Ozobot on vacation to Legoland. Using a map and images of Legoland, the first grade students worked so hard to recreate Legoland, then created a pathway "code" for Ozobot to move throughout the theme park. We (the teachers) created a short video of the Ozobots moving through the 1st grade Legoland, and will be submitting our video to the Ozobot on Vacation contest.
Check out the video below!!
Yesterday was Science Discovery Day at Stuart Mesa Elementary. Students in grades K-5 rotated through various science activities throughout the day. In the SmartLab, I challenged my groups of 3-5th graders to create art wiggle bots. Students were given specific materials, shown several online examples, then let loose to create with their partner. Communication and collaboration were an important part of the engineering process. Many students discovered that their bots did not work at first. They had to troubleshoot, problem-solve, and modify their bots until they had success. Check out the video below to see one of the art wiggle bots in action!
On May 26th, Stuart Mesa will host our first annual STEMfest. This event will be an opportunity for the Middle School students at Stuart Mesa to share the work they have been doing in the SmartLab. The ideas that the students have been coming up with are phenomenal! Projects range from video game design to solar powered vehicles to creating a new type of soap!
The STEMfest will be open during the day, for other students and teachers to walk through, and from 4:00 - 5:30 for parents and families to visit. Please come by for a visit. We hope to have a good turn out to support the work of our middle school students!!