This is part 3 of my STEM Lab Story. If you have not read Part 1 and Part 2, please go back and read those first.
Kindergarten - Second Grade
I finished out the 2015/2016 school year in the STEM Lab, having students rotate through the various activities in the STEM (Smart) Lab. K-2 students visited me weekly in the STEM Lab for a 45 minute lesson. They used materials including K'Nex, Zometools, and Ozobots, and they used computer programs like code.org and Pixie. We also used consumable materials like cups, string, tongue depressors, etc. to build bridges and towers.
Third - Fifth Grade
Students in grades 3-5 rotated through 5 islands: K'Nex, Snap Circuits, Vernier Sensors, Code.org, and Lego WeDo. One class would visit for 4 days, within one week (M, T, Th, F) for 1 hour each day, then would not return to the lab for 4-5 weeks. This was the best way for students to have enough time to build with their materials, however, it still made sharing the materials and kits a little bit tricky. For example, the students in Class A would come in for an hour, then Class B would come in for an hour following them. Class A and Class B were sharing the same materials and kits, so the students often had to build, then deconstruct their work before leaving.
When working through an activity, students referred to the Creative Learning Systems curriculum for instructions. Some of the directions in the curriculum were difficult for students in grades 3-5 to comprehend, so I would scaffold and support during these activities. Students completed a slide within their STEM Lab journal each day that they worked in the Lab. This was built into the clean-up/closing procedure and quickly became routine. We also looked at exemplar journals so that students knew what was expected of them and their writing. The journals were completed in Google Slides, and distributed and collected through Google Classroom.
Middle School students in grades 6-8 worked their way through 15 different activities, using their Google Slides journal as a form of goal setting, planning, and reflection. The students used the Creative Learning Systems curriculum to guide them through their activities, and for the most part, students were able to follow along with the curriculum independently. Students always worked with a partner and focused not only on the task at hand, but also on the 4C's of 21st Century Learning.
At the end of the 2015/2016 school year, we held our first STEMfest event, where students in middle school were able to show off their work from the STEM lab to their families. I highly suggest organizing an opportunity for students to share their work with an audience (parents, classmates, experts, etc.). The students really felt the need to step up their presenting game when they knew that they would be sharing their work, and fielding questions, from an authentic audience.
Following the STEMfest of 2016, everybody was excited about STEM education at Stuart Mesa!! I spent the last few weeks of the school year, cleaning, organizing, inventorying, and reflecting on the STEM Lab. I came up with some pretty exciting plans for the STEM Lab for the 2016/2017 school year. Stay tuned for "STEM Lab Story: Part 4" to hear about changes and improvements I made to improve the STEM Lab for the following year!
This is Part 2 of my STEM Lab Story. If you have not read Part 1, you can find it HERE.
Let's head back to December of 2015 for a few minutes. That is when I decided to leave my tenured 5th grade teaching job in Vista and take a grant-funded "STEM Lab" job in Oceanside, working with K-8 students on a military base. Kinda crazy to leave so much security and take a risk with a new position. However, I needed a change and felt like I was hitting the ceiling in my self-contained 5th grade classroom, as far as STEM related activities and innovation. So, long story short, although it was a risk, it definitely worked out for me and my teaching career.
When I first arrived at Stuart Mesa Elementary, the STEM Lab wasn't even completed yet. I actually was able to watch Creative Learning Systems build the STEM Lab (SMART Lab), set up the islands, and unpack the materials. And, how lucky was I that the Lab came with all the technology and supplies!
Check out the Google Earth Photo sphere of my STEM Lab HERE.
Once the STEM Lab was installed, I went through a week of training with Creative Learning Systems, then had a few extra days of support from them. I spent about a month organizing and learning as much about the Lab as I could, before ever seeing students. That is one thing that really helped me to be successful with the Lab, taking time to create a plan and familiarize myself with the kits, software, hardware, etc. If you are just beginning a lab or slowly piecing one together, take as much time as possible to develop your plan for success!
Creative Learning Systems also provides a curriculum, which I spent time getting to know. Since I was at a K-8 school, I had to figure out a plan for K-5, as well as a plan for 6-8 (the STEM Lab was an enrichment option for them). I familiarized myself with the curriculum for all grade levels, and methodically mapped out what K-5 and 6-8 would work on in the STEM Lab.
In addition to learning as much as possible about the STEM Lab, I also developed quite a bit within the Google Apps for Education (G-Suite) to supplement the lessons and activities. This included a STEM journal, which I created in Google Slides. There was one journal for grades 3-5 and another one for 6-8. The journal was my way of holding students accountable for their work in the STEM Lab. Each day students had to take a picture of their work, and write a reflection on their activity. They recorded the things that worked, as well as their failures and plans for next time. I distributed and collected the STEM journals through Google Classroom.
Since it was January 2016 by the time I officially opened the lab (Read about the Grand Opening HERE), I developed a plan for the remainder of the 2015/2016 school year. The 6-8 grade students would work through 15 different activities (one at each desk/computer) with a partner, spending about 3 days on each one. Students in grades 3-5 would work through 5 activities (one at each island) with 6 students working on the same activity at once. They would also work with a partner and spend 4 days on each activity. My little ones in K-2 visited the STEM lab once a week, and would have a 45 minute activity, whole class. The teachers in grades K-5 stayed in the Lab with the students, which was extremely helpful!
That's it for Part 2 of the STEM Lab story. Keep looking out for Part 3 to come out soon!
Have a question? Leave a Comment Below! Thanks for Reading!!
As I approach my 3 year anniversary with the Oceanside Unified School District, I've been thinking about how my role has evolved. I am blessed to have so much flexibility in my job and to be given so many opportunities to be innovative and creative. From STEM Lab facilitator, to EdTech TOSA, to Instructional Technology coach, I have worn many hats over these past three years, and have grown so much as a teacher.
The three schools that I support - Stuart Mesa, Santa Margarita, and North Terrace - all have amazing STEM Labs from Creative Learning Systems. The STEM Lab at Stuart Mesa is where I began with OUSD, and it is a really special place to me. Students in the STEM Lab have the opportunity to try new things - things that they would never try on their own. They get to struggle and fail. They get to troubleshoot and "start over." They get to succeed and improve. They get to do so many things in the STEM Lab that they do not get to do in the regular classroom or even at home.
Funding a facilitator for the STEM Labs has been a challenge and this year there is very little help in the STEM Labs (as far as a full time position). One school has support from the library/media tech and a substitute teacher, one school is relying on the classroom teachers, and one school is starting to get the library/media tech on board. As the EdTech TOSA for all three schools (and the person with the most familiarity with the Labs) I've been creating a student-driven STEM Lab curriculum for students in grades 3-5. The curriculum consists of 5 activities happening simultaneously in the STEM Labs, and takes about 4 hours to complete each activity. Students work on one activity for 4 hours (one hour per day), then rotate to the next activity when they return to the Lab.
Over the next few Blog posts, I will describe the activities that each grade level is participating in during their STEM Lab week. I will also describe the STEM Lab schedule, journal, routines, organization, and classroom expectations that have been working for my three labs this school year. Are you planning on creating a STEM Lab, Makerspace, Design Lab, etc? Follow my Blog posts to gather some ideas and inspiration to help get you started!!
Have a question about this Blog post? Leave a comment!!
The more Project Lead the Way (PLTW) modules that I teach, the more materials that I feel the need to create as a way to support teachers and students during those modules. I have created resources like data charts, formative assessments, and hyperdocs that support student learning during the modules.
The Launch Logs are great, however students often need additional supports and scaffolding in order to complete the activities in PLTW. The resources that I have created provide that extra support, extra practice, or extra formative assessment that teachers are often looking for.
Most of the resources that I have created to support teachers and students in PLTW can be found on my Teachers Pay Teachers store, "Love-Fleck EdTech." I plan to continue creating and posting PLTW-aligned resources in my TPT store, so give my store a "Follow" in order to see the latest materials.
After many years of shopping the online store "Teachers Pay Teachers," I have finally decided to create my own TPT store, "Love-Fleck EdTech." I decided to open a TPT store for a couple of reasons:
My store will focus on resources in the following categories:
I would love support and "Follows" for my new TPT store! So, if you are browsing the amazing resources on Teachers Pay Teachers, please take a minute to check out the resources at Love-Fleck EdTech!
Now that the school year has begun, I'm starting to get quite a few emails regarding the use of class sets of devices (iPads and Chromebooks) in the classroom. How do I set up routines with the devices? Where do I start with the apps? How can my students use Chromebooks in class? What should I do about digital citizenship? There are tons of questions that teachers ask regarding technology, especially if this is the first time that they've used devices in the classroom.
Last year, I wrote a BLOG post called "Back to School Device Boot Camp" where I outlined some best practices for introducing students to devices in the classroom. Creating a "Device Boot Camp" for your students is a fun way to familiarize them with the device, while also "laying down the law" of what is expected of them with regards to technology. Here is an example of a device boot camp presentation that I've used with students in the past. Think about the specific rules (big and small) that you have and also the consequences for breaking those rules. Some of the rules I like to enforce with iPads are no selfies or videos (unless told to do so), consistent wallpaper/backgrounds, no app folders (I hate those), and only download certain apps.
As far as apps to start with ... I always go Google! As a Google district, all of our students have school Google accounts. Begin by having them log in to those accounts with their ID number and birth date (ddmmyyyy). Show them their Google Drive and have them create a folder for this school year. Create a Google Classroom for your students to join. Post a fun activity in the classroom for students to complete, and show them how to turn in an assignment.
Is Google a little too much for your K-2 students? Start with Seesaw!! Create a teacher account, add your students, them have them login with the QR code. Post a fun "getting to know you activity" and have students respond. Can't think of an activity? Don't worry, Seesaw has already created activities for you to use.
Don't be afraid to try things out with your devices! If something is not working for you or your students, then change it. Technology is a tool for learning, so make it work for you. Need ideas about how to do that? Sign up for EdTech support, and I would love to help you with your devices.
How do you introduce devices in your classroom? Leave a comment below, sharing your ideas.
When I first accepted a position in Oceanside, it was to facilitate a STEM Lab as an EdTech TOSA. It was the greatest job! I was able to inspire students to discover new things, facilitate meaningful learning experiences, and basically play with robots and K'Nex all day (Haha!). I've learned so much in these past three years and have really had the opportunity to refine my teaching practice. I've been able to discover and explore innovative teaching and practice integrating technology in the classroom for multiple grade levels.
My role as an EdTech TOSA in Oceanside has changed since beginning my position in Oceanside. I am no longer in the STEM Lab, but rather support teachers and students at three schools in Oceanside. I still get to support the work in the STEM Labs at these sites (my favorite thing), while also pushing in to classrooms to model tech-infused lessons and co-tech PLTW, our new engineering curriculum.
I think that I will eventually go back to the classroom, so that I can use all of my new-found ideas with a self-contained K-5 class. I'm also interested in exploring ways to infuse technology with all subjects areas - language arts, science, social studies, and math - and the best way to do that is as a classroom teacher.
For now, I'm loving my time working with classroom teachers and students to support their learning!
Follow my work on Twitter: @mrslovefleck
This is the week before teachers return to school for Oceanside Unified School District. Many of my colleagues have already begin working in their classrooms, creating bulletin boards, organizing classroom libraries, and so much more. I ended last school year on maternity leave, so I haven't been in the "school state of mind" since May 4th. I'm slowly starting to plan out my first few weeks back and create my "To Do" list of items that I need to accomplish.
I'm so grateful to return to my position of EdTech TOSA for the 3 base schools in OUSD. This year I will work on supporting all teachers with the implementation of PLTW in their classrooms. I will also continue to support Google in the classrooms and the use of the STEM Labs at each site. I'm looking forward to beginning the new school year and I am excited to support student and teacher learning with technology.
What is your favorite part about beginning a new school year? Leave a comment below!
I recently wrote a guest Blog post for SDCUE. You can read about it below!
The #GoOpen movement has been recently sweeping the education community, as well as the twitterverse! The #GoOpen campaign was conceived by the US Department of Education in 2015. School districts that participate in the #GoOpen movement have committed to providing open educational resources (OERs) and materials for teachers and students to use. The campaign encourages districts to use open licensed educational materials to transform teaching and learning. Learn more about the #GoOPen campaign and the participating districts at the newamerica.org website.
Besides the twitter hashtag #GoOpen, another great way to learn about OER is to attend a summit or conference that focuses on using open educational resources in the classroom. On April 13th, I had the privilege of attending the 2nd annual #GoOpen Summit in Oceanside, CA. The summit was a excellent opportunity to learn more about OERs and the various ways that local districts have been implementing these materials in to their curriculum.
To kick off the #GoOpen Summit a welcome keynote was given by event organizer, Erin English, Sara Trettin from the US Department of EdTech, and Kristina Ishmael, a Tech & Ed Policy Fellow from DC. The message from the welcome keynote was that OER is meant to disrupt how we view and use curriculum and learning materials to encourage equitable, personal learning experiences for all students. Some of the other benefits of #GoOpen is that it increases equity, keeps content relevant and timely, empowers teachers, supports collaboration, and enable reallocation of district funds.
Following the welcome keynote, participants at the #GoOpen Summit were able to attend various breakout sessions. I attended a session that was led by Carlsbad Unified superintendent, Dr. Ben Churchill, and assistant superintendent, Dr. Rob Nye. They shared the Carlsbad Unified journey into using OER, as well as the powerful message that implementing OER is much less about the materials, and much more about what we expect kids to be able to know and do. I also attended a very informative session by representatives from CK-12, a website that focuses on creating a personalized learning experience with customizable flexbooks. The best part about CK-12 is that it is completely free to use!
The closing keynote was given by Dr. Devin Vodicka, chief impact officer of alt school and former superintendent of Vista Unified. Dr. Vodicka focuses on creating a personalized learning experience for all students. He uses the analogy of traditional education being similar to riding a train, with a set destination and one way to get there. Personalized learning, however, is more like driving a car, with many route options and the ability to make turns based on the driver’s needs. His advice for jumping into the #GoOpen movement included: have a clear vision for learning; connect and collaborate; and start small to set the stage for big change.
The #GoOpen movement encourages teachers to create their own content, and seek out free, open-licensed educational materials, rather that relying on a textbook in the classroom. Teachers are the subject matter experts, and have already been seeking out these types of materials to be used in the classroom, whether they realize it or not (think - Google, Pinterest, Newsela, etc). The #GoOPen campaign supports districts in reallocating funds from purchasing textbooks and instead compensates teachers to find and create relevant and engaging content for students. The movement is an excellent strategy to support teachers as grade-level and content experts, rather than relying on outdated, expensive, and often irrelevant textbooks. Find out if your district is part of the #GoOpen movement today! Start searching for OER materials HERE.
As I've mentioned in previous Blog posts, I am an EdTech TOSA for three school sites. I try to stay at one site each day, to avoid losing time by traveling from school to school. As you can imagine, it can be a little bit hectic scheduling meetings and teacher support at three different schools. One of my favorite tools to keep me organized is Google Calendar. I love Google Calendar for the following 5 reasons:
I would love to hear about some of the ways you use Google Calendar in the comments below!
All thoughts, opinions, reflections, and ideas are that of Heather Love-Fleck, and not the school district that employs her. She reserves the right to change her thoughts, opinions, reflections, and ideas at any time.