Tanque Verde STEAM Academy provided teachers with ideas for integrating coding, robotics, GeoGebra and more!

 teachers  learning engineering concepts with balloonsteachers learning coding with robots
The inaugural TVUSD STEAM Academy was held on May 31st, with approximately 40 TVUSD teachers from across all grade levels in attendance. In a day that supported teachers with professional development, they spent the day learning to further develop and use STEM/STEAM Education models. Everyone had the opportunity to investigate new ways to integrate STEAM concepts into their daily classroom instruction, and to get hands on practice with coding, robotics, GeoGebra and more. 

Local experts were invited to share their insights on cutting edge topics in STEAM education. Ms. Joan Gilbert helped attendees explore the three dimensions of effective science instruction, including Crosscutting Concepts, Science and Engineering Practices, and the Disciplinary Core Ideas, and how to apply those principles to enhance instruction. Ms. Mary Bouley explored the concept of “productive struggle” and discussed how engaging students by providing an appropriate level of difficulty, or uncertainty, can lead to more meaningful student learning. And Mr. Mike Griffiths, from the University of Arizona, challenged our teacher-learners by introducing them to “Edison” programmable robots, through which they learned about coding, from the basics to Python - a programming language used in the ‘real world.’

teachers collaborating around a table 

Emma Batty, Assistant Principal at Tanque Verde Elementary School, noted, “The STEAM Academy was an incredible experience!  I enjoyed collaborating with educators from all four sites, and learning more about STEAM and how we can create meaningful learning opportunities for our students!”

A few of our own TVUSD STEAM-enthusiast teachers also conducted breakout sessions, providing their colleagues with dynamic classroom activities and instructional approaches. Topics included: Engineering Practices and Robotics in K-6 Classrooms, with Ms. Lauren Klipp; An introduction to GeoGebra, with Ms. Maggie Janecki; Viewing STEAM from Art, with Ms. Alicia Marrano; an overview of Code.org, with Ms. Sarah Barker; and Interdisciplinary Teaching in the secondary classroom, with Ms. Brittany Baechler and Ms. Jennifer Maxwell.


teachers at computer lab teachers enjoying learning robots

“I really appreciated the professional conversations among educators, and I had so much fun with the Edison robots!  In fact, I've already ordered one for myself (and I may even share it with my 4 year old!),” said attendee, Kristen Kvaran. “My biggest takeaway,” she added, “was the importance of productive struggle, and I've been doing a lot of reflecting on how best to support that in preschool.”

Dr. Scott Hagerman was very pleased with the outcome of the first-ever STEAM Academy in the Tanque Verde district.“The feedback from the workshop has been very positive,” he remarked, adding, “We are now working on ways to extend staff members’ learning and build on the work done this year.” 

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