Using Design Thinking To Support STEAM Educators

This week I had the amazing opportunity to work with Andre Morgan from the Learn Launch Institute/MAPLE to design a session for educators in my district that supported the sharing, reflecting and key data points to tell the “story” of our STEAM work within the district.

In this session I had the goal of bringing together as many of our district STEAM educators (Science Teachers, Digital Learning Teachers, Math Teachers, Art Teachers, Specialists) as a group to discuss and design our districts next steps, questions and pathway.

The key areas in which we first addressed in the program overview were:

  • Let’s Celebrate and Reflect  On Our Success In This Area Across The District!!! You have done amazing work!

  • What does STEAM mean to us as a collective group?

  • Planning Our Next Steps To Expand Our Vision In STEAM Learning

  • STEAM Learning is in the North Reading Digital Learning & Technology Plan As A Central Focus

  • STEAM Learning is a great way to think across grade levels, schools and student skill sets.

  • A Focus On STEAM Brings People Together And “Un-Silo’s Our Thinking”

  • 21st Century Skill Sets For All Students

We also addressed some of the value of STEAM in our work with students and teachers:

  • Cross Collaboration (Increased Communication and Resource Sharing)

  • Shared Curriculum Experiences (Collaboration and Support With Development, Alignment)

  • Student Experiences Expanded (21st Century Skill Sets/Career Readiness/Fun/Authenticity)

  • Better Product Investments and Support

  • Teacher Experiences Expanded (Professional Learning Aligned/Better Conversations)

We connected some of the embedded values of Personalized Learning to STEAM Instruction

  • Communicate and share student skill sets which scaffold student learning to meet skills and knowledge areas

  • Provide students interdisciplinary learning opportunities

  • Curriculum supports student skills and prepares students to engage in STEAM knowledge sets (21st Century Skills, New Opportunities & Resources).

  • Increase access for all students to participate in Computer Science and Robotics courses and have new experiences in schools

  • Find tools and resources which can best personalize instruction and measure student success

And of course, we addressed the challenges that we face in teaching and instructing in STEAM content/discipline areas:

  • Lack of time and resources (material, people, space, curriculum, support) to facilitate a project

  • Properly Investing In Curriculum and Products Which Have Impact & Value

  • Aligning District-Wide Collaboration & Sharing

  • When something really exciting and cool happens somewhere in North Reading how do we share?  How can we expose others in all of K-12 so they can become inspired by the work?

  • Understanding the jargon of modern education and finding opportunities.

  • Connect Industry To Education More Seamlessly (Speakers, STEAM Nights,Coding Events)

  • Forgetting the “A” in STEAM

We proceeded to review a few of the districts data points such as course enrollments, new programs and opportunities for students presented through interdisciplinary STEAM work. The participants then worked as small groups separated by grade level and school to come up with our “story” of our progress and also develop questions based on their review of the districts data points across schools.

The feedback and conversation from the share out was a great process. Teachers shared a new understanding of some of the programs going on, discussed their willingness to support curriculum groups to support a broader range of STEAM integration and also continued to ask key questions around our next steps within the district. I now have teachers who are willing to keep the conversation going around the support for this topic and input from the key stakeholders who are working each day with the students to make the STEAM “magic” happen in the classroom.