Sep 18, 2017

Universal Design For Learning and STEAM

I just started taking a course on UDL (Universal Design for Learning) with a few of my colleagues. The more I learn about UDL, the more I see the connections between UDL and STEAM. 

One of the main goals of UDL is to foster self-directed, creative learners. One of the ways that we are able to encourage our students to be more self-directed is to encourage a love of learning from an early age. How are we already doing this? In many of our classes, students are given more choices in how they want to learn, collaborate with classmates, and how they want to share their knowledge. Some of our teachers are facilitating Genius Hour, to allow our students to discover their passions, learn about them, and teach others about it.

In order to graduate, all of our eighth graders must complete an Exhibition project. This project has evolved over the years. In its current version, students have the option of working with a partner to find a problem that is relevant in their lives. They then use the engineering design process to research this problem, imagine and plan ideas, and prototype and present their innovative solutions. In the past, students did most of the work in their English classes, but now many of our science, social studies, technology, and math classes are also getting involved. This allows students to see first-hand that all of the subjects they are learning in class integrate and have a real-world application.

I would like to focus my UDL efforts on having more of these grade level experiences that lead up to the eighth grade exhibition. I am working with my colleagues on a TK - 8 STEAM Pathway that will provide grade level experiences that provide a real-world application to the essential standards that students are learning in class. Having meaningful experiences in engineering design, software engineering, and environmental literacy, are crucial for all of our students to truly thrive in the future.

Want to learn more about UDL? The following video is a great way to get started!

Aug 28, 2017

Campbell Union School District's STEAM Innovation Leaders


Introducing Campbell Union School District's first STEAM Innovation Teacher Leader cohort! 

Blackford Elementary School - May Liu
Elementary School - Gloria McGriff and Teresa Iden
Castlemont Elementary School - Jisung Chong
Forest Hill Elementary School - Julie Hart
Lynhaven Elementary School - Megan Delaye
Rosemary Elementary School - Jessica Branstetter
Sherman Oaks Elementary School - Lino Gutierrez
Marshall Lane Elementary School - Michelle Beddo
Village Elementary School - Elizabeth Shepherd
Campbell Middle School - Kimiyo Cordero
Monroe Middle School - Anthoney Roe
Rolling Hills Middle School - Carrie Tibbs

These 13 innovative teacher leaders have been selected to lead and continue to develop our district's STEAM program. Their first group challenge, to come up with a few Back To School Ideas that teachers in their grade level could use to start their year in a STEAMy way! Read about the ideas that we designed that day on RAFT Education's Blog.

I'm so excited to learn and grow with this amazing group of educators and can't wait to see what we create and share together! 

Aug 15, 2017

Spring 2017

As the school year has come to a close, I wanted to reflect on a few of the successes of last school year. Our 9 elementary schools have created their own school STEAM Space or STEAM Centers. And our 3 middle schools have STEAM resources in their libraries. I can't wait to work with our school leadership teams to help them develop a plan to provide meaningful STEAM experiences for every student!
I didn't really get to blog last year, so my new goal for this school year is to blog once a week!

Feb 4, 2017

Piper Kits

I'm back from my maternity and so excited to be back in the swing of things! This year we have a new (part-time) STEAM TOSA, Sherry Burch, and I am thrilled to have partner to collaborate with!

One of the first projects that we worked on together was a Saturday STEAM Academy class with the Piper Kits! We had gotten the Piper Kits through Donors Choose, with the majority of the funding coming from Groupware. Sherry had her STEAM class build the laser-cut, wooden Piper boxes, which she said was both challenging and fun for the kids, as some of them had never used a screwdriver before.

As part of the introductory Minecraft programming lessons in the Piper Kit, students use a Raspberry Pi to build the controls for their computer. They first worked with a partner to connect jumper wires to buttons to be their up, down, left, and right controls. They also problem solved to create circuits operate buzzers, LED lights, and switches to truly bring their computers to life.

At the end of the class, students were so proud to have literally built their own computers!

May 25, 2016

3rd Grade Dash Robot Life Cycle Exhibition Projects

At Sherman Oaks Elementary School, all students in grades TK - 6 prepare an exhibition project to present to the community at the end of the school year. I was thrilled when 3rd grade teacher, Vanessa Diaz, reached out to me about planning their exhibition project around the 3rd NGSS standard of Life Cycles and incorporating programming with the Dash Robots. 
In groups, students researched a plant or animal and the different stages in its life cycle. Each student was then responsible for typing a paragraph about a particular stage in the life cycle in Spanish or English (since Sherman Oaks is a Spanish immersion school).
Students then worked with their teams to create a poster to organize the stages of their life cycle. We asked them to map out at least six different stopping points for Dash to stop and teach others about that particular stage. 
When programming, we also challenged students to have Dash always facing the audience when he is saying something. This proved to be quite a challenge as students had to calculate the extra degrees required to have Dash continue turning after arriving at a specific destination.
The 3rd graders can't wait to share their Life Cycle Dash Robot Projects with the entire school community at Exhibition Night later this week!
You can view the full lesson plan for this STEAM Project by Clicking Here. This lesson and others are also available on our Campbell USD STEAM Resource Website by clicking on the Dash Robot Button:

May 23, 2016

3D Modeling and Printing Training, Bicycle Helmets, and Gold Rush Tools

We recently had four 3D modeling and printing trainings in our district to build interest and expertise around manufacturing and design. We had over 80 teachers, technicians, librarians, and parents throughout the district participate! The trainings were facilitated by myself and Sam Patterson, Technology Integration Specialist at Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School.

During the training, we focused on using TinkerCAD and the Polar 3D Cloud. You can view resources from our training by: Clicking Here We also encouraged teachers to think about a project that they are currently working on and how they can incorporate 3D modeling and design. I also created several screencasts that teachers could use with their own classes to get started with 3D modeling:
As a follow-up, two of the classrooms that I've recently worked with are Anne Stephano's 2nd grade class and Brian Tamekuni's 4th grade class. The second graders had been learning about bicycle safety, so we had them use TinkerCAD to create a bicycle helmet. This was the first time that I had used TinkerCAD with second graders, but it went really well since we did the tutorials together as a whole class. Students also had to explain to us why they added specific features and how it helped to make the helmet safer.
Brian's 4th graders were just starting to learn about the California Gold Rush, so we had the students design a gold rush tool. We introduced concepts like scaling, creating holes, grouping, and duplicating shapes to create tools that were realistic. One of my favorite tools was the pick, since students had to problem solve to figure out how to create the curved metal head. The student below even designed a gold nugget!

May 12, 2016

2nd Grade NGSS Mystery Science Materials Unit at Sherman Oaks

The 2nd graders at Sherman Oaks Elementary school are hard at work learning about materials and their properties, one of their new NGSS performance expectations! Their teacher, Maria Guevara, is one of our new NGSS Teacher Leaders, and invited me to try out a Mystery Science Lesson with her. All 2nd - 5th grade units are currently available for a free trial on K - 1st grade units should also be available in the fall.
The students started by watching a few short videos and discussing the guiding question: Why do we wear clothes? Students were introduced to different material properties like, light, heavy, hard, soft, stretch, and staff.

Students were then given the challenge of designing a hat using different materials. They first tested all of the materials for softness, stiffness, and sweat-soaking (water).

They then used what they had learned about each material to design and create a hat that they could wear outside. We added that they should think about all of the reasons why people wear hats, and if their hat was providing protection from the sunlight and rain and was comfortable!

The second graders can't wait to test their hats outside!