Sunday, June 16, 2013

Ummm, Take 2?

6:37 p.m.


Well, clearly I'm off to a terrible start. I'd forgotten all about this blog. I was writing math curriculum in Atlanta for the last two weeks. I thought that that experience would complement thinking about the STEAM Lab and that I would naturally remember to do this. Not so. The work was kind of all-consuming and I did not think about the STEAM Lab even in passing. So, allow me to restart.

One thing I would like to do with STEAM Lab is to maintain a year long focus. I will only be meeting with the students for 45 minutes per month. (I will see them for another 45 minutes as part of a model math classroom, so I am hoping to be able to link the two.) I think that keeping a yearlong theme will help the students remember what our work is about - learning how to think like scientists and engineers and artists. Learning to be problem solvers.

Although my goal is to increase spatial skills, I wonder if I should limit that to second graders in order to "preserve" a group for research the following year. Is that a bad thing to do?

I'm thinking about doing Journey North with the first graders. Through this we could focus on:

  • art - making scientific illustrations or 3D sculptures of butterflies
  • technology - tracking via apps 
  • science - every which-a-way you look, it's here
  • engineering  - hmmmm, maybe I need to incorporate that into the butterfly sculpture? Or maybe in designing a milkweed garden? Maybe rain barrel construction for a milkweed garden? I need to think on this. 
  • math - I can make math fit anything I'm teaching. I'll worry about that one later. 
  • spatial skills - 
    • Possibly via the 3D sculpture of butterflies - creating something three dimensional from a 2D representation requires spatial ability. 
    • Another option would be to do a more explicit activity playing off of the symmetry in butterflies. I could have students design their butterflies through symmetry painting. Then give them specific locations to hole punch on their folded butterfly. They'd have to predict what the unfolded butterfly would look like. 
Well, I was avoiding spatial skills for first grade because I thought it would be difficult to come up with two distinct programs for teaching spatial skills, and I didn't want to neglect the art or science side of STEAM. It looks like spatial skills will be easy to incorporate into the project, so perhaps I should abandon the idea of "preserving" a group who does not receive instruction in spatial ability. 

Second grade's focus may or may not be on robots. More on that in the next entry.

End Time: 6:53

Okay, seriously, that was not that hard. I've been toying with Journey North for a while now and it took 16 minutes of thinking specifically about that to realize how perfectly it meshes with STEAM. I need to stop putting off this blog. 

Time: 16 minutes. 
Feeling at the start: 1 (dread). Now that I'm done, I'm wondering what my problem was. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Starting to think about the STEAM Lab

Start 12:00


I'm a terrible blogger. I try to write because I fully appreciate the benefits of being a reflective practitioner/parent/learner, but sometimes it's just easier to keep the ideas in my head. I like the look of this, my former blog, so I've hidden all the ranty education posts and am now using the blog to try to provide a space for the STEAM Lab I'll be piloting in the fall.

As part of an action research project, I'm also collecting data on how frequently I blog and how I felt about it at the time of writing. I'm hoping that I'll maintain the "Woohoo, I love my blog!" feeling. If the past tells me anything, though, this feeling usually has a shelf life of about 5 days. Then it quickly transitions to "I should really post something", which is quickly followed by "What blog?"

So, I'm setting a goal of writing daily for ten minutes. I'm rating how much I looked forward to writing (and/or enjoyed writing) based on this scale:

A score of 0 will be reserved for days I did not write.


The STEAM Lab I will pilot in the fall will be located at a rural primary school where I work as an instructional coach. I will see children in 1st and 2nd grades for a 45 minute block just once a month. My ideas are grand, but they are being tempered by two facts: 1) most of my ideas are more suitable for 3rd - 5th grade, and 2) 45 minutes a month is a short time in which to serve students. Right now, I'm planning for large scale projects that span a semester. I'm hoping that as I get the ideas on paper (well, blog), that I can see if they coalesce into a workable plan, or if I really need to think about each class period as a discrete lesson. We'll see what comes from this as I force the ideas out of my head and into the world wide web. 

Time stamp: 12:22


12 minutes, 3 rating

22 minutes total, but approximately 10 minutes of that was spent looking for a font for the scale. (I couldn't find the one I wanted.) Formatting images is pretty typical of how I avoid a task at hand, so I'm rating this event as a 3 and recording 12 minutes of active writing.