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T.J. commented on STEM Podcasts

YES! I love this idea. I tried it when I was teaching environmental science. What I loved was that students had choice over finding untold stories about the environment. That led to stories about flooding in Venice, the repopulating of animals at Chernobyl, and companies that rent suburbanites goats to "mow" (and fertilize) lawns. Embedded in those stories was some critical thinking and interesting commentary about our society that I don't think I would have been able to teach in a traditional way. Not only that, but the public product and sharing of these stories was a little extra motivation I needed for this particular group of 2nd semester seniors.

If others are interested in building on this idea I have some lessons learned:
-finding and storyboarding great stories is critically important AND takes a long time in class
-don't overthink the tech...garageband works fine for a first podcast
-The recording, however, takes some skill. Allow time for lots of practice and use some exemplars like NPR's RadioLab (the sound effects!) or resources on Verbatim Theater (make boring content exciting) to help coach how to sound good when recording


T.J. commented on Tackling STEM Fear in Teachers and Students

I had a similar conversation recently with teachers at my school. Not only is there fear of not being a science/math person, but the acronym itself can seem exclusive. In our schools case we already have a humanities program (all 9th grade students take humanities instead of English & history), so it seems natural to have a STEAM experience along side it.

I was somewhat surprised to realize that only ONE domain/discipline felt left language. Even though there spirit of STEAM is to be interdisciplinary and inclusive, I wonder if the acronym itself is actually exclusive?


T.J. commented on The Students Surpass the Teacher

To stick with the scaffolding piece, I know it has helped me to think of it as exploring the adjacent possible.

I'm like you, Maria, I used stand and deliver before making my class almost entirely project/activity based. Also, like you, I've had student want to demonstrate what they know through all sorts of avenues. What I learned, though, was that students needed a little introduce to new tools or software to match the level craftsmanship I was looking for. That meant if a student was making a poster, maybe we introduce her to Adobe illustrator. Or the student who wants to capture data, introduce them to Arduino. It's our job as teachers, I think, to introduce those adjacent ideas.