Monthly Archives: July 2018

STEAM Portfolio

Engineering & Design

Nursery Rhyme Challenges

Making a Home for a Monster

Three Little Pigs

Building Bridges for BeeBots

Pet Rock Playground

Rube Goldberg Machines

Hotwheels Speedometry

Native American Dwellings

Earthquake Challenge

Computational Thinking

Augmented Reality Oregon Trail

Beaver County Times Article

Oregon Trail Scratch Studio

Our Augmented Reality Auras

Scratch: Times Tables the Fun Way


Buzzing About Coding

Map Making

Beaver County Times Article

Lego We Do 2.0


Rainforest Models with Makey Makey

Invention Making with Little Bits

Video Production

Weather Rap

Grant Projects

Taking Learning to New Heights with Power Up 3.0

BCET Website

Daffodil Hill Beaver County Times Article

Special Events

STEAM Story Walk

BCET Website

Family STEAM Night

Awards & Recognition

Beaver County Teacher of the Year

Beaver County Times Article

Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year Semi-Finalist

Coming Full Circle with the 5 E Model

New Insights on the 5 E Model

At the beginning of the semester, I had a lot of burning questions pertaining to the 5 E Model. This past week we learned about the 5 E Model and tried our hand at create a lesson plan following the 5 E format.  I was familiar with the 5 E Model from my undergraduate studies, and I created an Inquiry Unit for Pre-K students titled “What Makes Day and Night?”  I realize now that I had a narrow scope on Inquiry-Based Learning.  I have learned that inquiry can take many forms, and the 5 E Model is just one way to structure Inquiry-Based Learning experiences.  The 5 E Model was created for Science, but I learned that this model is being applied to other subject areas.  For example, Discovery Education uses the 5 E Model in both their Science and Social Studies Techbooks.  I feel like I  am starting to come full circle in this course, since I started off wondering about the 5 E Model and now my questions have been answered.   Continue reading

Making Inquiry-Based Learning Authentic through Human-Centered Design

Authentic Learning is Key

Over the past semester, I’ve been giving quite a bit of thought to how PBL and Inquiry-Based Learning fit together.  This past week, I’ve started to think more about how PBL and Inquiry-Based Learning can be implemented in STEAM.  Earlier today, I had a Eureka moment when I came to the realization that the commonality between STEAM, transformative Technology Integration, PBL and Inquiry-Based Learning is authentic learning.  When developing my curriculum STEAM I focused on cross-curricular 9 week long projects that tied together students’ learning from all their subjects.  Sometimes, I felt my projects offered authentic learning experiences.

For example, one project that I feel was one of my stronger projects was “Taking Learning to New Heights with Power Up 3.0”.  My third graders were reading about the Wright Brothers in reading, so in STEAM I wanted to teach them about the scientific principles behind flight.   This project was made possible by a grant from the Beaver County Educational Trust.  With the money they provided me, I was able to purchase a class set of Power Up 3.0s.  These devices connect to an iPad (or smartphone) through Bluetooth.  The device has a rudder and a propeller on it that you attach to a paper airplane.  The app on the iPad provides students with a flight simulator experience and allows them to control the rudder and propeller.  Additionally, I had a pilot come in to speak to the third grades.  I also had several high school students who were studying at the CCBC Aviation Academy come in to help my students fly their paper airplanes.  The BCET honored me with the Exemplary Mini-Grant award for this project and subsequently named me Beaver County Teacher of the Year.  The BCET also nominated me for Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year 2019, and I am honored to have been named a Semi-Finalist.  As I reflect on my past teaching practices, however, I realize not all of my projects had strong, real-world connections.

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Human Centered Design in STEAM Stems Inquiry, PBL and Technology Integration that Transforms Learning

 “Essential Connections of STEM, PBL, and Technology Integration… What Would Dewey Think?

I just got done reading a fabulous article from the blog 21centuryedutech titled “Essential Connections of STEM, PBL, and Technology Integration… What Would Dewey Think?”  that really opened my eyes and helped me connect some dots in my mind. In this article, the author, Michael Gorman, illustrates how STEM, PBL, and Technology Integration are interconnected.  While reading this article I decided to create a mind map using Popplet.
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My Ever-Changing Mental Model of Inquiry-Based Learning

Over the past two weeks, my mental model of inquiry-based learning has developed.  One new insight I have gained is that there different types of inquiry.  Inquiry can be teacher directed, teacher-student shared or student directed.  I also learned that these types of inquiry-based learning exist on a spectrum.  On one end of the spectrum is structured, teacher-directed inquiry and on the other end of the spectrum is student-centered, open inquiry.  In the middle of the spectrum is guided inquiry that is teacher-student shared.  We also learned that inquiry can be multidisciplinary (Topic C, 2018). Continue reading