In thinking about making “small moves” I decided to create a Voicethread to share with the class about my small move – connecting to a larger teacher network outside of my building. Here is the link to the Voicethread I created, and below is the transcript of the Voicethread. I would love to hear from others about how to push my small move and make it bigger, so please feel free to let me know if you have any suggestions!
In thinking about “open networks” this week and making small moves, a lot of questions began to circle in my head. What small move was I going to make? How could I connect this all to the STEM concepts that I have been working on independently in my own classroom.
I began to realize that I needed some help! So I started my networking process by talking to colleagues about how to make my STEM knowledge more meaningful to the outside world. I got in conversation with my math specialist, Helga Porter, who had taken this class last year. After talking for a while we decided we wanted to bring our STEM knowledge together to create a larger network of educators. We have a low income population in our district that we wanted to reach out to in order to help build equity within our schools and ensure that all students were receiving equitable opportunities in the fields of STEM.
We looked into several ways to get STEM out into the needier parts of our district, and that is when we decided to use EIE to help us get started. EIE is short for Engineering is Elementary and it is a program that aims to provide STEM lessons to students in a teacher friendly and manageable way. The programs are designed so that anyone who is interested in working with students could use the program, you don’t need a education background to get the program going.
We decided to reach out to two local churches where many of our lower SES students attend after school programs. It was our hope that we could use our knowledge of STEM to teach the leaders of these programs how to run EIE during times they had with our students after school.
Once we got in touch with the coordinators of the church programs we sat down together this week to discuss what program we were going to use. We decided on the Rockets and Rovers EIE kit, which has students engineering paper rockets and designing rovers to land on Mars. We thought this was a great place to start because it directly connects with the curriculum of 4th grade Space Unit and the 5th grade Force and Motion unit that our students are working on in school.
Once we decided on what EIE kit we were going to use, we met with the coordinators of the church programs yesterday to try the kit out.. We started off with a design challenge where the coordinators and teachers had to act as our students. We first did a “spaghetti challenge” where the participants had to build the highest tower they could out of spaghetti, string and tape, While many teachers were skeptical at first, after we did this challenge, many were on board with getting started with the EIE kits. Just look at how proud they are of their own work!
While we don’t have all the kinks of the program worked out (i.e. funding, time frame etc.) I have at least make a small move towards creating a network of teachers outside of my building that are working to add equity to their students’ lives. Helga and I will continue to build upon and strengthen this relationship between ourselves and the after school church programs so that we can utilize our knowledge and pass it on to those that students see after school in the community each afternoon.