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Copy of STEM Integration within a TAG Program

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Sara O'Reilly

on 27 April 2013

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Transcript of Copy of STEM Integration within a TAG Program

Opportunities made for students to explore areas of interest will indubitably provide young scholars with more prospects of a life long learning career, and an optimism toward finding true workplace happiness- finding a profession that is not only challenging but inspiring, helping a person reach their fullest intellectual potential (a job you love to do). Success is achieved when an individual absolutely feels it by knowing their true self or inner being. Our main goal as educators is to prepare and assist our students for that future- to persist and find true happiness in whatever form that may be. STEM Integration within TAG Curriculum a STEM: an Acronym for Interdisciplinary Action STEM is the equivalent of, the symbol for, cross curricular studies. Integrating Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics cleverly into the "STEM" of education- all areas reinforce and compliment each other as the quintessential essence of a "well-rounded" education. The 21st century has a necessity for individuals who are knowledgeable in one or more of these areas and are able to practice innovation through STEM. Education with an emphasis on STEM can imperatively alter the applicability of your students. Instead of viewing learners as just "students," view them as engineers, scientists, mathematicians, inventors, and dreamers. As Talented & Gifted educators, parents, coordinators, and enthusiasts we acknowledge the cause that is ours, that is attributed to these learners- advocacy of GT education. We realize that "giftedness" is just another realm of education... but, sadly, this often goes unnoticed or unaddressed. When society claims that TAG learners, being as smart and capable as they are, do not necessarily need any resources or assistance because they can do it themselves, being "smart" or "talented" is undoubtedly being scrutinized- maybe not in a name calling, play ground sort of way but definitely on an intellectual level. The minds of our students are being categorized and organized to fit the molds of average or even below proficient academic standards. When GT learners are not provided with the opportunity to excavate the powers of their own giftedness or talents we are doing them a great disservice. Ultimately, our mission to have every student "reach their potential" is being grossly misinterpreted and yes, even ignored. Differentiation can be a solution and through this fitting, adjustable, and incredibly flexible avenue for instruction, GT students will receive an education befitting of their wit, intellect, and emotional well being. STEM supports a diverse group of individuals- equality by means of differentiation, while also seeking to incorporate areas that are critical to the 21st century (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). STEM is modern, adaptable, and relevant to our society including areas of continual progress and discovery where each individual is valued. By integrating these fields into STEM, students can attribute their interests or talents (within one or more of those areas) to their lives- building connections that allow them to conceptualize and understand the world. If we would put a name to this act of "bonding" we could easily call it an act of problem solving. This is higher order thinking at its finest- skills most complementary of an ambitious scholar! Though STEM is more geared to other core content areas, not TAG services, the influence of this acronym most fervently seeks out relevant and rigorous subjects that are not exclusive to only four (core) disciplines. In truth, it is my belief that GT instructors teach all subjects- especially those outside the "regular" boundaries of school. STEM provides both a focus on differentiation and the connection of all creative endeavors, and a symbol for TAG relevance within the educational system. GT curriculum is the epitome of STEM, of cross curricular exploration and educational mixtures. With the assistance of STEM models and strategies, the Gifted & Talented program may limit the amount of verbal bruising it receives and maybe even get the recognition it deserves as a crucial service to students who may otherwise get lost or discouraged by education- which can put a cap on these abilities and potential capabilities. The initial integration of STEM strategies poses a variety of interesting questions. How can STEM be demonstrated, implemented within a TAG program? How can we provide evidence that STEM (interdisciplinary studies) is being utilized. This is where another educational acronym can be introduced: PBL or problem/project based learning (as acronym ridden the educational world is, it only seems appropriate to add another). PBL is the act of "illustrating" the culmination of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. By combining different aspects of STEM to a project rigor and relevance is achieved. Why not provide TAG students a chance, a choice to practice/demonstrate what they want to or have learned into a product (solving realistic problems) with PBL? Becoming architects, mechanics, agricultural engineers etc., GT learners can get started early in the careers they wish to pursue or discover further. Why not encourage that process? Why not reinforce their natural curiosities (for that is where true, pure, untapped innovation originates)? STE(A)M not STEM: the relevance of the ARTS within Multiple Disciplines or Turning "STEMs" into "STEAM" As the epitome of cross curricular implementation, STEAM (with a side dish of PBL) provides students, educators, and the like with ample opportunities for the incorporation of the 4 C's of innovation- all of which guarantee multiple aspects of 21st century constructs. Continuing with the theme of the educational world's love for clever acronyms and effective academic strategies, the 4 C's of innovation are as follows: Critical thinking, Communication, Collaboration, and of course Creativity. All four areas can assist STEAM and provide content that more appropriately accommodates the needs of GT learners- being rigorous, relevant, and accommodating. All four components of Innovation seek to imply skills that are needed in the "real world." Innovation is a necessity, a quality sought out by potential employers, companies, and businesses. Innovation is imagination, the development of new inspiring and ingenious inventions, solutions, and answers. In order to improve our economy we must begin to invest in the minds of our future- these students. Their achievements within the "real world" can be organized into the 4 C's of Innovation, and with the unconditional support of STEAM, GT learners can develop those connections from what they have learned and acquired into the workplace. In the instructor's mind students must be allowed to make their own inquiries towards knowledge, to extend their logic. Though we may be there along the way to provide the scaffolds to their education and life long learning, when the time comes, they must be able to fend for themselves. We can't make those decisions for them, or choose their future... no one has that right, but we can always assist them along the way. When we break it down, what STEAM essentially brings is enlightenment-clarity of the underlining network of all academics. It may be simplistic, perhaps even silly trying to comprehend or provide an explanation to these connections and "real world" applications. Yet, by the efforts of pursing our passions we achieve so much more than knowledge or logic- our emotional and intellectual state is improved. Through education we can become well rounded, confident and successful individuals who are mentally healthy and above all else happy. As humans it is in our nature to continually learn, and since gifted learners are characterized as being highly sensitive individuals it is best to appeal to their unique capabilities- to inspire and promote their talents in all content areas and manners of expression. Love for learning can be achieved, and a liberal arts based method of approach (like STEAM) is one way to acquire it. As peachy keen as STEAM my seem, it wouldn't be fair to not provide my audience (you) a glimpse of what I am practicing with my students. This video short (or clip) is attached in the hope to provide you with a visual of what I am currently/perpetually trying to achieve within the TAG program. The following "animation" is a stop motion production created by my 5th grade TAG group. This particular team of GT learners enjoy the art of performance, and as a newly appointed 1:1 district the use of "creative" technology needed to be obvious. By use of the medium, stop motion, I wished to appeal to each student's particular talents as well as address the combination of PBL and STEAM. Technology and the Arts are both being utilized for the script, and throughout the entirety of this extremely short clip. The areas of Engineering, Mathematics, and Science are all conceptualized as well. Materials, such as modeling clay (unfortunately not seen in this video) and character development combines construction and the science of stop motion animation- which, if you have ever dabbled with, is quite an elaborate process (definitely higher order thinking, with an emphasis on real world implications). Stop motion is a popular media form that emerges as an innovative enterprise- advertising, websites, and even Hollywood provides creative avenues for this classic and fascinating media. The following animated clip is incomplete, needing both sound effects and some editing, but it provides a strong visual illustration of what I am trying to... capture. The video is a rather bizarre (but terribly brilliant) commercial for a Human Clock. In a surreal world of a Waffle Woman and strange terrestrial slug called "THAT!" this brief commercial provides a comical spin on reality. The students have definitely enjoyed creating and starring in their own video, and have given me permission to share it with everyone! So on behalf of my 5th grade TAG class, here is the commercial break for the infamous Wheel of Waffle Trivia Game Show, the Human Clock! By presentation of the resources, my evidence of this rebuttal, and my reasoning behind STEAM and integrated subject material is that I seek to build upon the TAG program and its services with a innovative outlook. Innovation is the apex, the universal theme in mind for the GT realm- the word to triumph over all words. STEAM provides the ideal course of action for me, because honestly when I delved into this profession I had no idea how to develop and enhance a TAG program. I had to start with nothing, with no background or foundation with except my passion for Art education- which in many ways has improved my opinions about cross curricular content and STEAM. Art education was, at a time, all I knew so naturally I wanted to incorporate my appreciation for the Arts within TAG. I know from experience that personal expression and discovery through music, performance, sculpture, etc. provides an individual with a medium to learn and invoke confidence within themselves. TAG education has a necessity for academic acronyms like STEAM and PBL because it addresses the unique learning styles of giftedness whilst simultaneously never degrading their individualism or extreme sensitivity. Now that my first year, as a teacher-as a GT coordinator, is gradually coming to a close I rejoice in knowing that I feel as if I am finally obtaining a grasp on effective Gifted & Talented curriculum. Of course methods and instructions will continually change as I learn from my mistakes... I do sincerely believe that in order to advocate the supreme importance of TAG (as well as the Arts) educational strategies like STEAM and PBL will provide more realistic applications towards their talents and gifted attributes and demonstrate, with feasible evidence, why these services need to be sponsored and endorsed within our school system. In retrospect, there is one concept I learned from this year that I hold dearly to my heart (in a metaphorical sense of course); the students may never remember what you taught them, or whatever was mandated by the state or nation for you to teach, that will undoubtedly be lost within all the chaos and confusion of growing up. What the students really internalize is how you made them feel. That is what they remember. As I ponder all the aspects of that statement, I came to the realization that I must provide an education that appeals to the emotions of my students, to that journey of growing up and to whatever that might imply. My epiphany, to help students find that happiness. When learners, of any ability level, not just the gifted, experience education in a negative sense their drive to learn or even intellectually advance themselves. That is a truly disturbing thought indeed! I never want my students to be apathetic towards education because it is the most crucial investment any person can make- I want every student to have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential and find happiness. Call me a romantic, but this is what I believe, and I seek to continue in this endeavor with STEAM and any other strategies I wish to acquire or research in the future. The Fusion of PBL & STEM Memoirs of year one with STEAM Integration Why are Interdisciplinary Studies important? As the importance of Gifted & Talented services is often ignored, perhaps even forgotten, there always seems to be this haze or blurry outlook on how the public interprets TAG. The common consensus of the "mob" is that GT programs are irrelevant or a waste of money- a gifted student is perfectly capable of looking out for themselves, well at least from their perspective. So much focus is put upon students of average or low achievement levels, on making sure they score proficiently on standardized tests. Yet, nothing even remotely sheds a light on student learners with characteristics of giftedness or intense talent- not even a healthy pursuit on expanding/challenging the mind. Talents of all students (from low to advanced academic ability) are not even taken into account as areas to embellish within education. It is truly sad to think that these areas are neither passionately advocated or labeled as imperative sections of education as well. As sorted and disillusioned the educational system may seem at times (and as frustrating as it can be) there is hope- advocacy through integrated studies, through STEM. Advocacy for TAG As quickly as I learned about the interdisciplinary components of STEM, I explored the creative possibilities of STEAM and all that implies. STEAM is STEM but with the added flair of the arts. This new development makes STEAM the ideal acronym for integrated educational subjects and thus, the perfect match for Talented & Gifted curriculum. Though I may be (slightly) bias in my views towards the Arts being crucial within integrated studies, and yes overly romantic in my notions of how imperative the arts are to a person's life, STEAM has proven to be everything I seek to instill within my program- art advocacy is TAG activism and support. In one form or another the Arts expand upon different intelligences, on a different level-recognition of these artistic pursuits must also be apparent. TAG education enforces and encourages the exploration of multisensory learning, talents, and passions. Therefore, with these supplements of giftedness in mind it seems appropriate to include the arts... for STEAM. Resources: Iowa.gov. (2013). Iowa governor's STEM advisory council. Retrieved from http://www.iowastem.gov/ ISU. (2013). North central STEM region . Retrieved from http://www.extension.iastate.edu/stem NGA. (2011). Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education . Retrieved from http://www.nga.org/cms/stem STEM Education Coalition.org. (2013). Science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) education coalition . Retrieved from http://www.stemedcoalition.org/ ISU:College of Human Sciences. (2013). STEM education. Retrieved from http://www.hs.iastate.edu/about/key-initiatives/stem-education/ STEMtoSTEAM.org. (2013). What is STEAM? . Retrieved from http://stemtosteam.org/ White, H. (2010). STEAM: Science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics. Retrieved from http://steam-notstem.com/ Elrod, S. (2011, September 12). Interdisciplinary learning in general education. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/ed/governance/elc/2012/elc-elrod-2011.pdf Clark, B. (2013). Growing up gifted:developing the potential of children at school and at home. (8th ed.). NJ: Pearson Education, Inc. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. THE END. * * * * * * * * *
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