What I implemented:
At Walter R. Sundling Junior High School, we started in our first year of the partnership, the Sundling team listed what we wanted to work on. It turned out to be all eight Essential Elements. We knew we needed everyone’s buy-in to take this work beyond the science department, beyond this small committee. We see Values as the umbrella for everything else and felt if we worked on that, everything else would fall into place- and it has.
We used STEAM as a lens to build skills we want to instill in our students- communication, collaboration, and problem solving. For example, Our PBIS (positive behavior intervention system) Green Team organizes Mix-It-Up day lunches once a month where students are put in groups they may not usually work in. In these groups, they work on different character-building activities together. Some of those lunches use a STEAM activity to give students a means and focus for their coming together to communicate, collaborate and problem solve. One activity used the Engineering Design Cycle as a process for collaborating and addressing bullying issues.
We’ve also created a “STEAM Is Happening Here” logo. As teachers do STEAM activities, we present them with the logo on a sign to display. We make celebrating this a very visible thing- we present the sign and take pictures with the students. We also have a tree that all staff and students are involved in building from the beginning to the end of the school year to showcase the culmination of all of our STEAM activities.
One lesson learned:
When doing Values, it truly became a whole-school thing because it allowed the whole school to jump right in.
If we had decided to focus on one of the other Essential Elements instead, like Curriculum and Instruction, it would have stayed within just the science department or on the committee. It wouldn’t have gotten out to that big, school wide level as quickly.