The Innovation Collaborative Policy Committee has adopted its first policy agenda, which helps inform the Collaborative’s work. This policy agenda focuses on the shared priorities and beliefs among member organizations of the Innovation Collaborative.
The Policy Committee includes Kathi R. Levin, co-chair (NAEA), Jonathan Katz, co-chair (Strategic Advisor), Jeff Allen (Federation of State Humanities Councils), Elyse Eidman-Aadahl (National Writing Project), Juliana Texley (National Science Teachers Association), and Lucinda Presley, Collaborative Chair. The topics covered in the Policy Agenda were developed following a year’s worth of polling and discussion about how the organizations involved with the Collaborative are engaged in furthering policies supportive of their field.
There are many policies supportive of interdisciplinary learning and collaboration within Section 4107 of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The Policy Committee has helped the Collaborative Board and Advisory Committee become familiar with opportunities for furthering the Collaborative’s shared policy agenda within the parameters of ESSA implementation.
The following agreed-upon policy agenda statements detail the shared beliefs among individuals, organizations, and institutions of the Innovation Collaborative regarding the importance of the arts, STEM, and humanities intersections in teaching and learning:
Equity and Access: All students/learners should have equal access to high-quality, standards-based interdisciplinary learning across disciplines in the arts, STEM, and the humanities.
Professional Development: All educators should have ongoing professional development in interdisciplinary learning.
Planning Time: All educators should have sufficient planning time in order to support collaboration in planning, implementing, and evaluating these teaching and learning experiences.
Collaborations and Partnerships: Collaborations and Partnerships between schools, non-profit organizations, higher education, corporations, and other resources support opportunities for outcomes-based, collaborative learning, creative problem solving, and innovation.
Workforce Thinking Skills: All students/learners should have access to programs which support the development of workforce thinking skills and the 4c’s (communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity) at these interdisciplinary intersections, enabling them to succeed in the 21st century workplace.
Resource Allocation: Programs which support interdisciplinary learning across the disciplines in the arts, STEM, and the humanities have appropriate capacity to meet program goals and achieve successful outcomes including facilities, equipment, and resources
Lifelong Learning: Programs which support interdisciplinary learning across the disciplines in the arts, STEM, and the humanities share a fundamental belief in lifelong learning.
Citizen and Civic Engagement: Programs which support interdisciplinary learning across the disciplines in the arts, STEM, and the humanities identify ways to engage individuals throughout their communities in their work.
Next steps for the Innovation Collaborative Policy Committee focus on developing a plan for the Innovation Collaborative to utilize the policy agenda over the next year in a variety of contexts. The committee will also provide suggestions for how individuals and organizations affiliated with the Collaborative can make use of the agenda in their work at the local, state, and national levels.
The Collaborative is conducting a multi-year national research project to determine the most effective practices that promote vital workforce-related creative and innovative thinking skills at the intersections of the arts, STEM and the humanities (STEAM) in K-12 learning settings. This research is a broad national effort to begin developing a framework to provide a strong underpinning for the growing STEAM movement.
The Collaborative’s research includes classroom and teacher professional development studies, in addition to the development of educational materials. This project is aligned with the research being done by the Collaborative’s out-of-school-time research project, which represents museums, after-school programs and other out-of-school-time learning settings.
The K-12 Effective Practices Classroom Study Research Project is in its 4th phase. The K-12 classroom project first piloted its effective practices criteria and submissions process in 2015-16. At that time, 10 teachers whose submissions most effectively promoted the creative and innovative thinking skills were chosen as Innovation Fellows as part of the first round of research. The Fellows are now part of the Innovation Collaborative's planning team. Other Innovation Fellows will be chosen as the project progresses.
These first Innovation Fellows are:
Kerry Buchman, Los Angeles Unified School District, Los Angeles;
Ian Fogarty, Riverview High School, New Brunswick, Canada;
Ashley Lupfer, Rockingham Middle School, Richmond, NC;
Kimberly Olson, Centre School, Hampton, NH;
Ana Rozzi, Oregon Episcopal School, Portland, OR;
Juli Salzman, Northside Elementary, Angleton, TX;
Marica Shannon, Mitchell High School, Mitchell, SD;
Kathleen Sweet, Starmont Elementary, Arlington, IA;
Kristin Taylor, Sylmar Leadership Academy, Los Angeles.
During the 2016-17 and 2017-18 academic years, each Fellow, along with other selected teachers, conducted classroom implementation of other Fellows’ lessons and one of their own lessons to further develop a STEAM effective practices rubric and criteria that will be usable in classrooms. This classroom study is continuing in the 2018-19 school year. It is being conducted in concert with the NEA-funded teacher professional development study. Significant findings will be released.
The classroom study, inspired by the input of the Collaborative’s Research Thought Leaders, is led by Collaborative Board member Hope Wilson, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Interim Director of Assessment, College of Education and Human Services, University of North Florida. Dr. Wilson also is Chair of the National Association for Gifted Children, Research and Evaluation Network. Also leading the K-12 Project is Board member Amanda Upton, Manager, Nominations and Teacher Awards, National Science Teachers Association. They are joined by Collaborative Executive Director Lucinda Presley an extensive team of expert advisors from universities, and schools, in addition to the Innovation Fellows.
Collaborative Founding Chair and Executive Director Lucinda Presley was recently presented the Adjunct Excellence in Teaching award (Adjunct Professor of the Year) by the college where she has taught part-time for 18 years. The college, Tyler Junior College, is one of the largest community colleges in Texas with an enrollment of 12,000 credit students and 20,000 continuing education students. Ms. Presley teaches art appreciation to 60-90 college and high school early college students per semester. She has been using these classes as an additional way to study the effectiveness of the Collaborative’s criteria in getting students to think creatively and innovatively.
The Collaborative newsletter Managing Editor Juliana Texley interviewed Ms. Presley about this award and its relevance to the Collaborative.
1. You’ve been honored as a great instructor. How does it relate to the Innovation Collaborative? This Adjunct Faculty Teaching Excellence Award recognizes that getting students to think in addition to learn is important. The thinking skills the college promotes, such as analysis, problem-solving, collaboration and communication, dovetail with those of the Innovation Collaborative. We must help students of all ages realize that these thinking skills will help not only with learning required information but also with their daily lives. When I integrate thinking skills, my college students become much better at learning the required content. Since they are analyzing the material better than before, they also can apply their information to solve problems more effectively. Since I’ve been using these skills, I’ve seen a marked increase in my college students’ engagement and use of the required concepts and information in ways that transfer from project to project. Students also report that these skills are helping in their daily lives. To accomplish this, throughout the semester, students are integrating supportive Collaborative concepts such as working in a team, observing with deep visual analysis, investigating by changing perspectives, comparing and contrasting and then synthesizing information. They also are analyzing the pertinent information and communicating their evidence-based conclusions as a group. These are new skills for many students, but it’s gratifying to see their growth by the end of the semester.
2. Tell us how you came to the Collaborative at this point in your career. I began with an interdisciplinary Masters’ degree in art, history, literature and science. Working at an art museum, I integrated the sciences with art for K-12 classrooms for a number of years. I then was recruited to a science museum, where I integrated arts with science for K-12.
Since then, I’ve been working with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab for many years, taking their out-of-school Imagine Mars arts/science program into K-12 education. I’ve also been working on the STEAM education portion of the Philip Beesley Canadian Living Architecture project. I set up the education and program departments for the new Leonardo arts/science museum in Salt Lake City. I also have been doing STEAM K-12 teacher professional development in different locations for many years, including for the Texas Education Agency and the National Museum of Women in the Arts. At the same time, I’ve been integrating science and arts thinking in the college classes I teach. So, I was able to apply what I had learned from these many experiences in STEAM teaching, curriculum-writing, teacher professional development and programming in a variety of learning settings when I was invited to be a part of the National Science Foundation (NSF) - funded SEAD (Sciences, Engineering, Arts, Design) project.
How did the Innovation Collaborative begin?
The Innovation Collaborative is an outcome of NSF - funded SEAD (Sciences, Engineering, Arts, Design) project. I was a chair of the SEAD Learning and Education team. When the grant was completed, my team and I received permission to take the important SEAD work into K-12 and out-of-school settings through founding the Innovation Collaborative. Members of the original SEAD project still are an important part of the Collaborative and we continue to dovetail with their impressive work.
What are the Innovation Collaborative’s goals?
Our goal is to help develop the important workforce skills of creative and innovative thinking. We do this through helping educators and students learn to think creatively and innovatively as they interact with content. Everyone needs these thinking skills in life. This became apparent in my work with my college students. So, we work to enrich STEM, arts and humanities educators’ abilities to collaborate and teach across disciplines using a common language and common processes. This can be accomplished through professional development where educators see that, though sciences, arts and humanities educators bring their own perspectives to learning, these educators use many of the same process skills.
The Innovation Collaborative also is helping develop a deep and firm research base for the STEAM movement. With a sound basis in research-based data, the movement becomes sustainable and not just a passing fad. Policymakers and stakeholders also will need this data.
3. Where does the Collaborative go from here? We have been focused on identifying effective practices at the arts/sciences/humanities intersections in K-12. We now are taking what we’ve learned from identifying top lessons and studying them in K-12 classrooms into out-of-school-time settings, teacher professional development and curriculum development. We will make the tools that arise from these studies widely available. The Collaborative also will continue to develop effective collaboration across disciplines, institutions and learning settings and to use our data to advocate for the importance of this STEAM approach.
Dr. Hope E. Wilson was honored at the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) during the organization’s annual conference in Charlotte, NC, during the 2017-18 school year. Dr Wilson, an associate professor at the University of North Florida and president-elect of the Florida Association for Gifted Children, was awarded NAGC’s 2017 Early Leader Award for her service in the field of gifted education at the local, state, and national levels.
The Early Leader Award is presented to people who are within 10 years of receiving their doctorate and have made significant contributions through leadership and service in support of gifted children. Early leaders actively participate in NAGC and other organizations for the gifted, as well as advocate and educate others about the needs of gifted students.
In an interview with the University of North Florida Journal, Dr. Wilson said, “In our country, we have many great laws to protect students with special needs. But we don’t have any legislation nationally that protects the needs of our gifted learners. So, part of my research is to find out what those needs are and what happens when states and counties develop programs directly tied to gifted learning.”
As a member of the Innovation Collaborative board of directors and executive committee, Dr. Wilson leads the organization’s K-12 Effective Practices Research Project and has been active in other organization initiatives.
“NAGC is committed to providing opportunities and resources to better understand and serve all gifted and talented children,” said M. René Islas, NAGC Executive Director. “The awards program shines a light on those who are making a difference in supporting gifted children as they reach to achieve their personal best.”
“I am honored to receive this award, as I continue to work and advocate for gifted children in Florida and across the country,” said Dr. Wilson.
Juli Salzman, Music Specialist, Northside Elementary, Angleton, TX
We had some 2nd graders present uses of technology in the music classroom at our district’s Technology Showcase. They did such a great job that three other teachers and I selected and coached a group of eighteen 3rd, 4th and 5th graders to become STEAM Ambassadors. We taught them how to make presentations and confidently speak to groups about STEAM activities and benefits. We presented at the Music and Technology Conference of Houston during the 2017-18 school year. The kids also presented the music items they shared with elementary music teachers in the Greater Houston area. Marcelo Caplan, from Columbia University of Chicago and the creator of an awesome after-school STEAM program in the Chicago area was the keynote speaker.
Children learn best when they are exploring authentic problems that are relevant to them and their communities. But today, children have less freedom to explore. Those children who come from restricted environments have even less opportunities for rich, exploratory experiences than others. So teachers often rely on literature to introduce new contexts and new worlds in which children can reason.
Integrating literature and the STEM fields is an easy leap for most instructors. For 45 years, the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and the Children’s Book Council have worked together to identify the most Outstanding Science Trade Books for young scientists. But in the past few years, new questions have emerged. Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are subjects in themselves. But STEM is more than that: it is a creative state of mind. STEM is naturally integrated, and includes arts, social studies and any other realm in which young learners can ask questions and solve problems.
So in 2016 NSTA convened a panel of representatives from technology, engineering, mathematics and science educators to redefine what the Best STEM books might represent. Their conclusion: Subject matter content didn’t really matter. What was important was creativity, divergent thinking and the spirit of invention. STEM thinking might involve science or mathematics, but it might equally involve social studies or the arts.
A year of discussions resulted in a rubric, and an invitation to publishers. “Send us your “BEST STEM books that illustrate innovation so that we can encourage this sort of integration.” The result: about 350 submissions to a panel of representatives from five associations. The panel identified 21 books that illustrated how creativity and ingenuity could work. The list included books about inventors, artists and architects and stories about stubborn young “makers” and a crafty pirate with a plan. To see that list, click here.
In 2017, 22 books were selected from over 330. They included music, architecture, art, and even coding skills without words or computers – all representing the best in integration. See them here.
Dr. James Catterall, Collaborative Thought Leader and founding director of the Center for Research on Creativity, passed away unexpectedly last year. Collaborative Advisory Council member James Palmarini, Director of Educational Policy for the Educational Theatre Association published a blog in honor of Dr. Catterall in which he wrote, “The arts education community lost one of its champions….Dr. Catterall has been called “the father of arts education research” and I don’t think that’s hyperbole. Over four decades, his landmark studies showcasing the impact of arts experiences on students has been the benchmark that advocates, policy makers, teachers, fellow researchers and a host of others have used to make the case for arts education programs in our schools and communities….His work serves as the bible of proof as to why every student should have the opportunity to engage in art making as part of their school career. Reports like Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Academic and Social Development and his seminal longitudinal study, Doing Well and Doing Good by Doing Art, in which he tracked the connections between high involvement in arts learning and general academic success in students over a twelve-year period, offer rigorous evidence of what those of us working with students—whether in theatre, music, dance, or visual arts—have witnessed time and time again: that encouraging children to create and share the art that they make and do helps them become better, more positive human beings able to make their way in the world today and for the rest of their lives.“
Objects in Motion
The barely perceptible hum I almost missed,
the tiniest oscillation on the screen,
was the dancing line of the first fireball returning.
Time as a tidal pool became clear,
how to stand quietly at its edge and look back in,
and later, looking back in, it became easy
to count every pulsar and nebula,
asteroid and comet, moon and meteor.
Not far from a field of corn on one planet,
next to a car parked beneath the pinball sky,
one person takes a small step forward
into the arms of another. I think,
from this distance, of their particulate image
rolling out in waves, riding the seahorse photons,
of the small step, of their arms enfolding,
of their stepping again and again into comforting arms,
the eternal momentum of objects in motion.
Effective Practices Research Project
The Collaborative is in its fourth year of a multi-year national research project to determine the most effective practices that promote important workforce-related creative and innovative thinking skills at the intersections of the arts, STEM, and the humanities (STEAM) in K-12 learning settings. This research will help provide a strong foundation for the STEAM movement.
This research project initially conducted an extensive study of top lessons addressing the arts and sciences from teachers across the country. The teachers submitting the top 10 identified lessons were named Innovation Fellows. The Fellows are now the front line teachers for this conducting research and for helping develop further research. They are joined by other selected teachers from a variety of disciplines from across the US.
The 2016-17 and 2017-18 academic years are devoted to studying the Collaborative’s criteria and rubric in a variety of classroom settings.
This aspect of the study is enhanced by a National Endowment of the Arts Art Works grant that allows the Collaborative also to study teacher professional development in the context of these lessons.
These studies are developed through collaborations with university researchers, content leaders, teachers, administrators, and the Collaborative’s Research Thought Leaders.
The Collaborative has received generous funding from the National Endowment for the Arts to begin its study of effective practices in K-12 teacher professional development at the intersections of the arts, sciences, technology, engineering, math, and humanities (STEAM).
With this grant, the Collaborative will study the blending of the arts, STEM, and humanities in teacher professional development through virtual and in-person training combined with mentorship models. In addition to effective practices in professional development, this project also will strengthen the Collaborative’s study of effective practices in K-12 classroom settings.
This NEA-funded project already has worked in-person and virtually with its Innovation Fellows, the top 10 identified teachers from previous research. As a result of their experiences, they are helping strengthen the Collaborative’s effective practices criteria and rubric through practitioners’ perspectives.
Thanks to generous funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Collaborative will begin the study of what constitutes effective practices in STEAM teacher professional development.
The Collaborative will train during 2017-18 its Innovation Fellows, the top 10 identified teachers from previous research. This training is being held both virtually and in person. The teachers will integrate this training with classroom implementation, reflection, and assessments. Using the train-the-trainer model, the teachers also will work with mentees to extend the training. The Fellows also will use these experiences to further enrich the Collaborative’s K-12 Effective Practices criteria and rubric.
This grant builds on the findings from the previous NEA grant. This grant allowed the Collaborative to convene its Research Thought Leaders to enrich and firmly ground these projects.