With the continued support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Innovation Collaborative is continuing its K-12 Teacher Professional Development Study of STEAM-based learning and teaching in the 2018-19 academic year. Working with its Innovation Fellows, the top teachers identified in the first round of research in 2017-18, the project is now studying how to further develop teacher leaders and networks. During this second phase of the research, the Fellows selected teacher mentees whom they will help to develop their own STEAM-based teaching strategies.
The mentees assembled in Houston, TX, December 7-9, 2018, for an in-person workshop that focused on the content and methodology that will anchor their work in 2019. The Fellows, who will work with their mentees throughout the year, joined the workshop virtually. Collaborative Executive Director Lucinda Presley led the session. Also participating in the training were the grant’s researcher, Bess Wilson, the grant’s arts specialist, Fellow Juli Salzman from Angleton, TX ISD, and the science specialist, Dodie Resendez from Texas Education Agency Region IV in Houston.
Presley trained the mentees in how to look at the arts/science intersections as a continuum, explained how the continuum can range from students working on a STEAM project separately in art and science classrooms to a deep integration of art to directly solve a science problem. The mentees also learned how to convert one of their lessons into a STEAM lesson. As part of their training into the deep integration of art and science, they attended light artist James Turrell’s Twilight Epiphany Skyspace presentation on the Rice University campus. Twilight Epiphany demonstrated how the use of lighting can affect perception of natural light at sunset.
In a workshop wrap-up reflection in which mentees were asked to consider how they might integrate STEAM across disciplines, Julie Olson, a high school teacher mentee, who helped write the National Science Standards, said that she learned that STEAM is more than using art media in a science project. Instead, she said, it is looking for connections between art and science concepts and practices and specifically connecting the artistic medium and concepts to the science practice and concepts. This would be an impactful strategy, she added, for at-risk students. Laura Bilden, instructional coach from Iowa, said she saw the importance of bringing all the disciplines to bear to solve the overarching problem students are given at the beginning of their problem-based experience. Other mentees said that this process increased their understanding of the science concepts.
The Collaborative recognizes Crayola for donating supplies for each teacher to implement their light and color lesson in their classrooms, and to Lowe’s for participating in making other materials available.