This is it! The last week of school in Oceanside Unified. It is an incredibly bittersweet feeling. I'm very excited for my new position, back in the classroom, in Tennessee, but I'm also super sad to leave my Oceanside family. I've worked with so many outstanding educators these past few years and the work we've done has positively impacted both students and teachers. Luckily for me, I'll be leaving my EdTech TOSA position to a very capable teacher!
So what now? I have a few more days to wrap things up in Oceanside. This includes organizing the PLTW materials, cleaning up my Google Drive, and returning my devices and keys to my three school sites. My goal is to leave my position, ready for the next EdTech TOSA to step right in and get to work.
My family will be driving out to Tennessee in two weeks! From there, I have a few weeks to set up both our new house and my classroom. I'm honestly a little bit nervous to be back in the classroom - almost like a first year teacher. I feel a lot of excitement about the things I will do in my classroom and can't wait to innovate with my students.
Follow along on my adventures on my social media channels (below).
I recently made the announcement that my family and I will be moving from California to Tennessee in a few weeks. We have a house and I have a job, back in the classroom, waiting for me out there. This will be a HUGE move for my family, as both my husband and I have only ever lived in California. We are excited, but definitely a nervous excitement.
Being out of the classroom for the past four years has given me so many great tools to add to my "teacher toolbelt." Now that I will be back in the classroom (3rd grade), I'm excited to have the opportunity to implement the tools that I've gathered as a TOSA with my own classroom of students.
While I'm super excited to head back in to the classroom, I'm also a little bit anxious. Not so much for the kids - I've taught third grade before for 5 years - but for the TN standards and way of doing things. I feel a bit like a first year teacher again, trying to imagine my classroom and the way that I will do things in that classroom.
I would love to connect with some other elementary teachers from Tennessee, or maybe even some that have relocated from California to Tennessee. If that's you, leave a comment below, or let's connect through social media!
As teachers and students begin to wrap up the school year, they complete memory books, sign yearbooks, clean out desks, and take home class work. But what about all of those digital projects student have created throughout the school year? What happens to those? How should students save their work, sign out, and clear their devices? What steps do you and/or your district have in place to support students with this?
As the EdTech TOSA for three schools, I've developed a list of steps and videos to support teachers and students with the end of year procedures for iPads. The list includes the following:
You can find my list of steps for "end of year iPad procedures" as a FREE resource in my teachers pay teachers store "Love-Fleck EdTech." Be sure to check it out and download it today! While you are in my store, make sure to look through some of my other STEM-related resources and give my store a "Follow" to stay up-to-date on new posts.
I will be the first one to tell you that I am not always the best at integrating Art into STEM. Many teachers can do this seamlessly, but I am not one of them. Recently I was invited to participate in "Art Discovery Day" at one of the elementary schools that I support. I jumped at the chance to open the STEM Lab for some "STEAM" and to challenge myself to create Art activities in the STEM Lab.
I decided that I wanted to include robots in the Art Discovery Day, so I grabbed some Ozobots and Spheros and came up with a plan. From my experience, students really love drawing the line codes for Ozobot to follow, and often don't get enough time in the STEM Lab to do so. So, with this in mind, I pulled some giant butcher paper and brought brand new markers. The paper was set up on the ground, with the markers, Ozobots, and a copy of the Ozocodes. The directions given to students were simply to draw line codes for Ozobot to follow, and work together with your group.
With the Spheros, I've always wanted to paint with them, but never had the perfect opportunity, until now. I put together a big box to keep the Sphero contained, and pulled more big butcher paper. With dots of paint scattered around the paper, students were told to drive the Sphero and spread the paint. I set a timer for 2 minutes for each student, and that seemed to work really well.
In addition to the Ozobots and the Spheros, I opened up a few computers for the "Ozobot Shape Tracer" game which is my favorite way to introduce students to Ozoblockly coding. Not all students want to get down on the floor and draw or paint, so offering a third option of computer coding worked out really well.
The Art Day sessions were successful and students moved between activities on their own, when they felt they were ready to change. I didn't hear any complaints from the students that attended my sessions, and it appeared that most of them were having a blast!
If you are planning to integrate some "A" in to your STEM, I highly suggest these open-ended activities that really give students the chance to create and play with the robots in a different and unique way.
.This is part 4 of my STEM Lab Story. If you have not read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3, please go back and read those first.
STEM Lab Schedule
For the 2016/2017 school year, the biggest change that I made to the STEM Lab had to do with the schedule. From the previous year, I noticed that the students in grade 3-5 were never able to complete a project in the STEM Lab, before having to clean up and move on. I made a huge change to the schedule, so that one (3-5) class would visit the STEM Lab at a time. This allowed students from that class to work on a project for one week (4 days). They could store their work-in-progress until the next day, if needed, and then clean up their materials on the final day (Friday).
You can purchase my sample STEM Lab schedule HERE. If you use Google Docs, there is a link within the sample STEM Lab schedule resource that will allow you to make a copy of my schedule. Once you have made the copy, you will be able to modify it however you need. If you have questions about the sample STEM Lab schedule, please leave them in the comments below!
STEM Lab Journal
In addition to the schedule I spent a lot of time working and re-working the journal that students would complete during their time in the STEM Lab. I wanted a journal that focused on reflection and goal setting, so that students could evaluate their own learning. I also figured out, very quickly, that a simple format was better, since I was seeing multiple classes each week in the STEM Lab.
I developed one journal template for grades 3-5 and a different journal template for grades 6-8. You can purchase my STEM Lab Journal/Reflection (Google Slides) Template HERE. You will need access to Google Slides to use the template, and I suggest distributing and collecting work through Google Classroom.
Advice for Getting Started with your STEM Lab
For those of you that are in the beginning stages of setting up a STEM Lab, I would highly suggest creating a set schedule and using some type of journal. There should also be some type of STEM Lab Orientation for students, prior to them working in the Lab. This establishes the rules, procedures, and expectations of the STEM Lab.
Also, remember that it is okay if you are not an expert on every kit or software in your Lab! I figured out many things in the STEM Lab alongside my students. Encourage them to search for their own answers, rather than asking you immediately. That could mean talking with a classmate, re-reading a manual, or finding a helpful video on YouTube.
I would love to support you as you begin your journey with STEM, either in a Lab, or in your classroom. Please leave a comment below with any questions or wonderings, or find me on Twitter @mrslovefleck.
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!
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.