Sunday, February 19, 2017

STEAM Studio in the 4th Grade


At GA, we understand that the work of STEAM and innovation is the work needed for our 21st century learners.  This work represents so much more than what you see in the words of the acronym.  Embedded in the teaching of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics, we practice inquiry based learning, design thinking, empathy, collaboration and creative problem solving.  We practice failing hard and then picking back up and failing less-hard, followed by growth.  We learn to value process, and then joy in the satisfaction of seeing our determination come to fruition.

The STEAM Studio course was envisioned as a course for 4th graders to engage in student driven learning through collaboration, dialogue, and guided inquiry. The design thinking process, with an emphasis on fostering creativity and empathy, is central to the program's initiative.  While using critical and innovative thinking, students are encouraged to take thoughtful risks, and persist in problem-solving. The skills and concepts of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics are key as the students sketch, plan, and build prototypes to realize their ideas.

STEAM Studio was spearheaded by science teacher, Craig Newberger and art teacher, Jess Killo along with the 4th grade homeroom teachers, Julia Blumenreich, David Nagel and Connie Williams.  We meet each of the three classes, once a rotation (or once every 3-4 weeks) for 1-hour.  So far, we have had three STEAM Studio sessions for each class.  We expect to see each class a total of 7 times before the end of the school year.

  • 1st Steam Studio Session –
    • Introduction to STEAM,
    • Ice breaker, collaborative Team Tape Maze
    • Reflection
    2nd Session-
    • Special guest, Librarian - Bridget Flynn leads Guided Meditation
    •  Introduction to the keys of innovation
    • Exercise in collaborative Smart Recombinations
    • Student presentations of Smart Recombinations
    • Kid President video on innovation
    3rd Session-
    •  Students present three problems phrased as questions.  One problem that is their own from home life, one problem from school life, and one problem to help someone else.  Ie… How might I develop a product to help my elderly neighbor more easily collect their mail from the far end of the driveway?
    •  Students are paired by their interests and work collaboratively throughout the process.
    • Students work collaboratively to Begin Mind-mapping (a diagram used to visually organize ideas).
    Expectations for the next few sessions-
    • Students complete mind-mapping and begin the Design Thinking Process.
      • EmpathizeWho are you solving for, why your work matters?
      • DefineWhat are the needs? What are you trying to accomplish?
      • Ideate, Idea generation, What if…?  writing, dialogue, sketching, video diary.
      • PrototypeHow might this design be realized? Sketch and start building the idea.
      • Test, Does it work?  How can it be improved?  Iterate and repeat the Design thinking Process.
    • Students record daily diaries of their process and reflections throughout the sessions.  They can do this through writing, voice recording, and/or video.
    ·             Students are asked to pursue primary resources as part of their research; Internet, articles, interviews with community members, public servants, family, etc.
    ·             Students present their innovations to each other and finally to the GA community.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Mapping Your DIgital World: 10th Grade Health Classes Engage in Digital Citizenship Curriculum

Students in upper school sophomore health class spent sessions in the Beard Center for Innovation thinking about four key aspects of digital citizenship - relationships, self image and identity, digital footprint and reputation.   The focus of this exercise was to utilize case studies and discussion as a means of thinking about digital tools and the online world as forces for creating positive change in the world.  Students also engaged in this work as a way to shift the conversation about digital citizenship from lecturing about what NOT to do in the online world, and to instead focus on what is positive and possible.