As the month of October is Connected Educators Month, I am extremely thankful that I have become a connected educator. Being connected has enabled me to learn, share and grow with a global network of passionate educators. This school year I was asked to create a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) lab. At the International Society for Technology conference (ISTE 2015) I decided to learn as much as I could about STEM/STEAM. I accomplished this by attending some sessions but more valuable for me was having conversations with members of my Personal Learning Network (PLN). Their experiences with teaching STEM classes really opened my ideas to all the possible projects I could do with the students in my classes.
When I got to ISTE tweeted that I was looking forward to learning about STEM/STEAM. As a result I had a few people who said let’s chat. Those conversations that I had with several people including, Amanda Dykes (@amandacdykes), Katrina Keene (@teachintechgal), Nathan Stevens (@nathan_stevens), Meredith Martin (@geekyteach ) and Kevin Jarrett (@kjarrett) got me thinking and plans started forming. Over the summer I worked on ideas that can be done in my STEAM/Lab. I was faced with having a very tight schedule and basically no money. Thanks to being a connected educator I was able to shoot ideas back and forth and design an a area that would fit the needs of my students..
Since I did not have any funds I had to find ways to get money for the STEAM Lab. My good friend Meghan Everette (@bamameghan) suggested that we should apply for a grant through the ASCD Emerging Leader program which both of us had been a part of. Fortunately we won the grant. My next step was to talk with my administrators before school started about how the schedule would work. We came up with a cycle schedule so every class will go through the STEAM lab three times during the school year. I then had to figure out the exact projects I would be doing in the time I had. Once again I reached out to my PLN for ideas and had many conversations with others who have done this before. We currently have two projects planned for this Fall. After running the first cycle the students were excited about learning about engineers in our community.
Thanks to being a connected educator I was able to bring this amazing learning experience to my students. With the help of my PLN the creation of a STEAM/STEM lab was made feasible to meet the needs of my school building.