This Week At STEAM: Intro Week Block 3 2017/18

STEAM Block 3 has begun in earnest!  In the first week the students learned the basics of STEAM.

The day started with an ice-breaker to get know one another.  Thee students had to state their name, grade, which school they were in, and an interesting fact about themselves.  Each student was given a card that had a question prompt on it – Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How.  The students had to formulate questions that started with their given prompt and were based on their neighbour’s interesting fact.

We talked about what the STEAM acronym meant – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math – without giving away too much of the upcoming 8 weeks.  The students also learned the expectations of the classroom.

We read a book called “A Walk in the Rain with a Brain”.  The book talked about how everyone had their own special strengths and no one was smarter than anyone else.  We followed up by taking a Multiple Intelligence survey to see where students strengths and interests lied.  They were asked to make predictions and see if there were any surprises.

Digital Literacy and Citizenship was on deck.  The students learned how to be safe online – not visiting unknown websites, not revealing any personal information, keeping any pictures to work only (no faces!) when posting on social media.  They were also taught to THINK before they post.  All of our posts have to be True.  They have to be Helpful, whether to students in class or the world at large.  They should Inspire others, be Innovative, or Informational.  Food and shoes are not Necessary posts. Finally, the students have the option of liking and commenting on the work of their peers, so all posts must be positive and Kind.  The students then composed an “I wonder” Tweet about what they anticipate doing in STEAM.

The students learned how to use an app called Seesaw to explain their learning and thinking.  They had to post pictures, drawings, videos, and notes.  The posts had to contain captions and labels that provided good descriptions of the activities they were doing.  Twitter was used to showcase the student’s work to the world at large.

After lunch, we learned about the Foundations of STEAM:  The 4 C’s, the Design Thinking Process, Reflections, and Personalized Learning.  The 4 C’s are the cornerstone of STEAM: Critical Thinking, Creativity, Collaboration, and Communication. The Design Thinking Process helps the students break down the task, formulate a plan, document their changes, and share and reflect on their learning.  At the end of the day students have to reflect on their learning.  We guide the students to talk about how they felt, what they think they learned, and how they used the 4C’s.  Finally, the students can engage their strengths and interests through Personalized Learning.

Our first design challenge involved creating a logo that represented a letter from the STEAM acronym.  The challenge was slowed down to allow students to work through the Design Thinking Process.   As the students become more adept and confident with the design challenges the amount of time they have to plan and build will be reduced.   They had to generate their own plans then get into groups of 3 and collaborate on a final design.  They were allowed to work with others from their schools, but those groupings will change as time goes onOnce all the groups had finished, we shared what the logos meant and talked about the process.  Students were asked to note one thing they changed and one thing could change.

At the end of the day the students completed their first reflection.  We wanted them to think about how they felt when they came into the STEAM class, what they learned during the day, what challenges they had and how they overcame them, and what they are looking forward to.

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