My Quest To Teach

June 21, 2013

Public Education and Growing STEAM Educators

Filed under: Uncategorized — William Jackson @ 12:07 am
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Wm Jackson Engineering Teacher

Wm Jackson Engineering Teacher

Public Education and Growing STEAM Educators

My observations as an Engineering and Technology
educator in a growing STEAM environment for
elementary students. Teachers are becoming
facilitators of learning not just lecturers.

The STEAM environment of a school and classroom
is a diverse educational environment. It requires
teachers to be facilitators of learning in a
multi-disciplinary environment requiring engagement,
collaboration and cooperation on the part of the
student. The integration and infusion of Science
Technology Engineering Arts Mathematics requires
not just a strong curriculum that can provide
cross-curriculum lines of instruction it must have
passionate, knowledgeable, innovative, creative
teachers that are willing to work collaboratively.

Schools across the country are claiming and announcing
their transition to being a STEAM institutions of learning.
The reality and the challenge is to become agents of
instructional change not just educational reforms.
Allowing and encouraging hands on learning, project
based discoveries in a world of digital media,
testing strategies, benchmarks, learning assessments,
procedures and practices that are sometimes archaic
and outdated.

Dynamics of Classrooms
The dynamics of the 21st century classrooms must be prepared
for equal access to functional technologies; learning should
be engaging, empowering and gradually applying critical and
higher order thinking skills. Students should be taught how
to be critical thinkers, applying old knowledge to new
learning, the ability to think in higher order needs to be
defined so that it is universal in its application. Higher
order thinking skills (HOTS) is inline with educational
reforms that many districts nationwide are trying to
transition too, but find it difficult because many
teachers are not trained in the dynamics of facilitated
teaching.

The complexity of HOTS involves the learning of complex
hypercritical skills and problem solving. These in many cases
are new skills that take years to develop in children. If
a school or school district decides to embark on this
educational journey in reform they must be willing to have
long term expectations and the willingness to retrain not
only students, but educators and administrators in the
applied skills of facilitation.
STEAM education is not a quick fix nor a fad, it is a
systematic, methodical, meticulous and planned progression
of student development.
The skills students learn will be transferable along
the educational track from elementary to high school and
even into vocational and higher education.

History and STEM
Historically since 2001 STEM has been a part of the educational
vocabulary slowly transitioning to STEAM since 2010. The
acronym STEM represents an instructional model of Science,
Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. STEM is a teaching
design by the National Science Foundation. Revolutionizing
education by incorporating technology and expanding the
influence of science, engineering and mathematics. Students
in order to compete in the 21st century and beyond need
to learn the skills necessary for careers that are new and un-invented.
STEAM and STEM skills are necessary for all students. These
skills lay the foundation for global preparation in careers.
The inclusion and infusion of the Arts is important because
of the solid research that the Arts builds on the creativity
and innovation that is required in a STEAM environment. Arts
and Crafts have a responsibility like never before to expose
students to their inner creativity that is needed in digital
environments that require “thinking out of the box” and
actually ”create an new box” of design, experimentation
and ingenuity.

The diminishing requirements of industrialized and
agricultural skills shows that careers in these fields
are slowly disappearing. Automation and robotics
dominate increasingly in each generation. Globally
industrialized nations are leaving their human
productivity behind and investing in human capital
that encourages creativity and productivity. Third
world nations use human capital still for
manufacturing, agriculture and low wage jobs. Seen
in the recent factory deaths from fires and collapsing
buildings. Low wage and low skill workers are still
being employed even in America, but unfortunately their
value as “value workers and contributors to economic
prosperity have lower values.”
Technology has enabled a higher value on those that have
technical skills over those that have no technology skills.
Nations have been focusing on technical lines of education
where competition is becoming digital because of the creation
of digital content. The changes of STEAM are shown in changing
the traditional teacher-centered classroom model to a
hands-on, problem-solving, exploration, discovery, reflection,
and project based model.

The access to technology is important and understanding of
how technology is integrated and manipulated by students
and teachers is requiring a change in instructional models.
STEAM creates a paradigm shift in the integration of the
Arts because of the ability to affect cognitive growth,
problem solving and creativity.
Engineering is more than just designing buildings and
structures it requires an Arts based foundation. The Arts
are key in the innovative and “out of the box” direction
of thinking, analyzing and immersion of creativity that is
seen in modern structural design that is even seen in
design of space craft.

Teaching Strategies
Students benefit from a STEAM program as it includes
and addresses multiple learning modalities. An important
key is innovation that allows students to maximize the best
fit for them in learning. Stated from the White House web
site “Educate to Innovate” there needs to be an increase
in STEM literacy so that students can learn to think
critically in science, math, engineering, and technology.
The importance for the need for STEM and the
transition to STEAM is stated by President Obama,
”recognizing that a strong foundation in science,
technology, engineering and math is key for laying
the foundation for prosperity.”
Teacher guided learning allows students to embrace learning
on a scale as leaders and content creators. STEAM careers
require workers to possess the ability to think critically,
work as a member of a team and be a independent creator.
The performance gap between American students and those
of other countries is a challenge. There is no metric to
measure true discrepancies, there are assessments that
are national and global, but the proof comes when
workers are productive in real world careers.
Equitability of growth comes in the form of creating,
manipulating and being involved in STEAM as it grows from
the classroom to the corporate, educational, scientific,
financial and military applications around the world.

Parental Influences
I strongly encourage parents to create learning
environments in their homes.
Allow their children to explore their talents by
visiting museums, work with Legos, participate in
the arts to understand the value of creativity and
expression, have a reading library and educational
DVD’s. I want to make sure parents understand that
their children will be judged by their abilities to
create, collaborate and be innovative. Where we see
a football, baseball, tennis, basketball or other
athletic opportunities. There should be a Tablet with
educational Apps, a library card, museum membership,
educational DVD’s and books being read.

Conclusion
President Obama called for 100,000 new STEAM teachers
over the next ten years; the importance of a STEAM
education and putting those skilled teachers in the
classroom is paramount to the education of
American children and the competitiveness of the
United States in global markets of the 21st century
and beyond. The recent announcement by NASA and
the new class of astronauts should show parents a new
direction of career choices for their children.
The landscape for educating and learning is changing.
No student should be left, parents must engage and
encourage their children because learning and appreciation
for education starts at home.
Before students step into the school house they should
be prepared in their own house.

These videos are from my Engineering class.
They represent guided instruction and cooperation
among students. Students are creative and expressive.

Lego Building by Students

Girls Rock with Legos

Second Graders Building with Legos

First and Second Graders Building with Legos

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