A colleague talked to me today of opening up her classroom to some more STEAM based learning. I have some LittleBits from a generous grant from our local Rotary and a set of MaKey MaKeys from our parent group a couple years ago. She brought up setting up these tools and some more opportunities at a table in her room that will be available all the time before integrating them directly into curriculum.
This is an excellent plan.
It allows for students to explore tools, engage in learning, generate inquiry, and be prepared for activities. How often as an adult has someone said, "you just need to play with it to figure it out." A lot of time this is pretty sound advice. To grasp basic function of what something does, spending time with it is often the best way to learn. Now, going deeper with learning goes beyond just playing. It needs a mentor or coach, guidance, and scaffolding. This is why her idea is so solid. Kids will explore technology through ways meaningful to them and gain some prior knowledge. They'll make discoveries and create things that a planned lesson would have never thought of. Then when it comes to a more structured task- students will be primed to exceed expectations.
I'm really looking forward to being part of implementing this inquiry based STEAM learning in her classroom. Kids are going to be learning, building, and problem solving together. What an awesome project and plan for learning.
Instructional Technology Coach