EANES ISD GRADUATE PROFILE
Desired Characteristics of an EANES ISD GraduateWell-Rounded Person
Listening to STEM educators who are pursuing full-integration into the learning environment, I came to the realization that every teacher has STEM experience embedded into his or her practice at Eanes Elementary. What we often don’t take the time to do is to reflect on the lessons we facilitate that are most certainly STEM-driven, but are often identified in with another name, an alter-ego.
The bottom line is that we are all on track to fully integrating STEM education into our daily learning opportunities. Here are some of the take-aways I feel we gleaned from this week’s NSTA STEM Forum:
This forum opportunity was a wonderful experience, leading our team of three (Debbie Smith, Kelly VanMeter, and myself) to reflect on where we are, where we’ve come from, and where we are going along the road to further STEM integration at Eanes Elementary.
Technology integration has shifted a bit since I was in school...which wasn't that long ago! In elementary school, I used green screened computers in a dark lab with a cardboard box over my hands, ensuring my typing speed was at the right WPM rate. In middle school, I expanded my technology repertoire from typing practice to creating power point presentations on boxy desktops covering Texas history topics relevant to the state's learning objectives of the early 90s. In high school, I branched out from word processing and music downloads from Napster (1 song coming right up...4-5 hours later). I ventured into the world of computer programming by taking a C++ class. It was frustrating and complicated, and in all honesty, I saw little value in creating a code which made an "X" dance in a box around my screen to earn a coveted A in the programming class.
I've always enjoyed using technology, but I've never really stopped to think about how my shiny MacBook pro actually makes the magic happen. Last week, Debbie Smith, our educational technologist, came into my office and celebrated the fact that she had just completed a coding activity in Scratch Jr. So, I asked her to teach me! She and I sat and laughed, creating our own little comedy scene on the iPad Friday afternoon. I asked her, "Why code?" It was hard for us to come to an immediate conclusion, though. Today, she shared this info-graphic with me in response. Below are the Five Reasons to Teach Kids to Code as shared by Kodable, and below the info-graphic, please enjoy the fruits of my inaugural coding labor. Special thanks to Debbie Smith for taking the time to co-create this little gem with me and have the patience to answer all of my "why" questions. Side note, this little coding video is far more exciting than a dancing X across the screen...promise!
Be careful! Watch out! Eek! Don't touch that! Wait for me!
I sometimes (let's be honest - always) throw these phrases out to my children who are trying new adventures, taking risks, or are moving faster than a nice stroll. I'm a parent, it's my job, right? However, when I, myself, learned to ride a road bike with clip in pedals and elected to simply sit on the seat without pedaling forward for fear of falling...I fell - hard. I needed to be moving forward and going fast for my bike, pedals, and shoes to all work in conjunction with one another. After all, the whole "an object in motion stays in motion" scientific fact is quite...factual.
What if we applied this "slow down", "not too fast", and "wait for me" concept to learning at school? I can tell you this, we'd prevent innovation and success from taking place, because everyone would be so cautious that no one would take risks, fail, or discover new and beautiful ways of creating and doing. The loss would be perceived as outweighing the gain. Is this what we want for our 21st century learners? I'd say not.
When I began adding my thoughts in writing to the blog my husband set up to share Rex's progress with the world, I second guessed every word I typed. What would people think? Would they be able to handle the words I wrote - would I be able to look back and read my own words years down the road? I took a risk, and I'm so glad I did. I documented our journey, and looking back, it's such a healing gift to have for our family.
So, as you close your eyes and cringe, peeking out to find your child trying a new problem solving technique or creating something new and innovative with technology which is out of our own comfort zone or capabilities, take a deep breath. They may be creating magic unknown to us through their calculated risk taking. If we can all loosen the reins a bit and let our children run, play, explore, and take risks, we'll be sure to find the benefits far outweigh the risks almost all of the time. Here's to new adventures, new risks, failures, modifications, and innovation. Here's to our generation of Mustangs who will change the world.
Check out this PBS segment on play, 21st century learning, and technology exploration!
Here's to a New Year and Finding the GREAT in Each Child and Adult Who Sets Foot on Our Camus! Here's to You, Mustangs!