Friday, July 22, 2016

STREAMing into Learning: Perfumy Goodness

We just finished our 4th class at my Summer Learning Camp aptly called, STREAMing into Learning. STREAM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Art, and Math. Educators may recall the term STEM, which is still widely use, for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Then someone said, Why not art? And I started to hear not only STEM but STEAM. Well, not to be left out, reading finally joined the acronym to create STREAM. Now, from what I hear, it's all in. And I like it that way. I do. I think a good teacher meshes all of it anyway.

I started this camp to help scaffold my unwilling learner (my daughter) into learning. I made it in a way I would want to learn: hands on learning, nature centered, student driven. And its been a hit, not only for my daughter, but for the kiddos involved.

The first week (two days) we identified trees, plants, and flowers. Dissected a Shasta Daisy, explored a terrarium filled with millipedes, pill bugs, and earth worms. Painted water color scenes of what we saw. Built a robotic bug and talked A LOT because by sharing we learn :)

At the end of our second day (first week), I asked the kiddos what they were interested in doing the following week. They, amazingly, all at once said Potions! And thus the ideas for Chemistry week started.

Now we have ended with two days of authentic learning, and project based discovery. What I had was high engagement and knowledge retention. They don't forget as they are in charge (mostly! ;)

I don't know about you, but I get BORED with the same thing...I like to think outside the box, explore topics of interest, go PLACES, spend time learning about what interests ME, not what someone tells me I need to know. And do it in a calming atmosphere. Nature does it for me, it might not for you, and that's OK as long as we can both get what we need via DIFFERENTIATION.

For those not familiar with the "D" word, it equates to each person getting what they need, but at their level. We want everyone to soar. Sadly, differentiation is not used to it's full potential. Folks still talk about teaching to the middle. Which equates to leaving out the high kids as they already know it, and leaving the most struggling learners to sink or float. Yet, there are new ways of thinking, new bridges to adventure, if we are willing to take the time to stop and check them out. Kinda like pulling alongside the road and checking out something interesting while knowing nothing about it. There is beauty to be found by trying.

I get change can be hard, but keeping the brain in motion is good. Same ol' Same ol' = Your Brain Not Exercising. As teachers we should model what we want our students to do. If we want our kids to learn, we need to become learners.

And with that I created my first quote using Word Swag :)

Happy Adventures!