As classroom teachers, we often don’t know what kind of technology support we need or want to enhance our teaching. Administrators will ask teachers what kind of PD they want or need, but the truth is that most teachers don’t always have a good response to this. I’ve often said that teachers “don’t know what they don’t know.”
When I was an EdTech TOSA, one way that I reached out to the teachers at my three school sites was by creating short 2 minute videos introducing a new app or technology tip. This would give teachers the opportunity to get an idea of something that they might want to learn more about. For example, if a teacher had heard about Seesaw, but didn’t really know anything about it, they could watch a two minute video about it, and then decide if it was something they would like support with.
I would send a new “Two MInute EdTech Tip” to teachers each week. I always tried to keep the videos short - two minutes or less. Many teachers liked this weekly video because it gave them new ideas to try in their classroom, or something to ask me more about when I would see them at their school site. Sometimes teachers would even ask me to come in and introduce the new app or tool to their class, which I loved doing!
Now that I’m back in the classroom in a new state, new district, and new school, I think something like “Two Minute EdTech Tips” could really be beneficial to the staff at my school site. The school recently transitioned to iPads (from Chromebooks) and I think that the lack of PD on the new device is affecting the usage in classrooms. And, with iPads being such a new (and different) tool to the staff, they “don’t know what they don’t know.”
What do you think? Watch a few of the “Two Minute EdTech Tips” and tell me what you think. Should I start creating more of these videos? Would something like this be useful as a classroom teacher?
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'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. Subscribe below!