Sunday, February 2, 2014

STEAM School part 1

I have been asked to participate in the early stages of discussions around building a STEAM (Science, Technology. Engineering, Arts, and Math) school in our district.  We are on a very tight time-line for the design of the physical space and so I have been gathering as much data as I can about what works and what doesn't.

I put out feelers to my PLN, I tweeted, Google +'ed, +Edmodo'd  and surfed.  I received an immediate tweet back from my friend +Jason Borgen  at TiCal  who suggested I contact +Skip Johnson. I had seen Skip present some innovative work his school was doing with iPods a few years back at Lead3.0 and then at a few TiCal gatherings.  Jason told me that Skip would be a good resource, so I reached out to him.

Skip is the Principal at El Crystal School  in the San Bruno Park School District. About a year ago, he and a very committed group of teachers "STEMmed" their school. I wanted to know how they did it, what worked and what they'd change. He referred me to a blog post, All Stemmed Up he'd written on the subject, and then we chatted on the phone. I can't wait to go up to his school and see what they are doing.
The good news, for us right now, is that they made very few facilities changes when they converted to a STEM Magnet school.  The did take the shelves out of the middle of their media center to allow for building of K'nex and Lego projects and other PBL (problem based learning) activities. But for the most part, the classroom walls have stayed physically the same. All of their classrooms have short throw projectors, interactive white board and document cameras.

As it should be, their efforts were less in the facilities department, and more in curriculum development and parent education.  The walls will be there, what really matters is the learning that occurs within and beyond them.

I've also created a group +Pinterest Learning Spaces board to start gather ideas.  Edutopia lists 8 tips for re-designing your classroom  starting with Involving Your Students. Which is exactly what I did! First I had our kids tweet about their idea of an ideal school.

Then I told them about the proposed STEAM school and showed them the facilities plan and asked them to design their ideal STEAM school. They are so excited and their ideas, and methods are as individual as they are.  I can't wait to see their ideas gel, and of course, I'll share them here.

1 comment:

  1. Love the Pinterest board.. a lot of great ideas. Go take a peek at the Science rooms at Price.. Oh yea, I want that