Morehead STEM Academy is a K-8 magnet school in Charlotte. As a STEM school, we focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Teachers at Morehead try their best to provide high level activities that integrate these topics. In elementary school, grades K-3 have a “STEM” block once a week, and each quarter we change which part of STEM is focused on. Next quarter is technology, where students will learn how to use iPads and complete high level projects with these devices. We also have a Project Lead the Way Pilot for Elementary School where students research careers they are interested in.
In Middle School, we have teachers that teach Science, Engineering, Math, and even business/career classes. Since technology can be included in all of STEM subjects, teachers need all the support they can get for technology.
At Morehead STEM Academy, we do not have a 1:1 device program. As a part of our BYOT program, students are encouraged to bring their own devices to engage in research, note taking, and collaboration. Since we do not have a 1:1 program, we must ensure that the technology we do have is used to promote higher level thinking skills, and 21st century skills such as communication, critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity. To do this, we have a checkout procedure in which the teachers fill out a very simple form. Teachers request the technology (iPads, Chromebooks) and explain what they will be using it for. Then, the technology facilitator (I) or the PD Facilitator (Jill Smith) approve or disapprove the request. From there, we send a Google Calendar invite to notify the teacher of approval, and one of us will sign them up for checkout.
Since technology can be seamlessly integrated into all STEM subjects, teachers need plenty of support. Twice a month, professional development is offers for the teachers. One of the options is Technology. In this Technology PD, the teachers are learning how to integrate Project Based Learning with technology organized in an iTunes U course. Another option for Technology PD is every other Monday during the entire day; teachers can come learn about a technology topic during their planning time. These topics include, but are not limited to:
- Creative Commons (understanding copyright issues)
- Website Design with Weebly, Wordpress, Google Sites & Wiki Spaces
- iPads & Accessibility
- Google Drive & Gaggle with Students
- Content Creation on the iPads
- Discovery Education
- Web 2.0 tools for 21st Century Skills
Mr. John Floyd, our principal, has a vision for each student to have access to a device (see video above). As you can see, our school is ready to move to a 1:1 device environment. The support is here, for technology, as well as the rest of STEM. We have 3 Academic Facilitators, a Science Facilitator, a PD facilitator, two Assistant principals, and a technology facilitator. We are working hard applying for grants to make this dream happen. We believe that if every student had access to a device, students could take paperless assessments with instant feedback, take control of their own learning, research and create!
My personal belief is not just giving teachers a bunch of tools to use, but how the tools connect to their content areas, and how technology can support student learning AND engagement. Technology is not meant to be a ‘babysitter’ which I see it being used for regularly (not at Morehead, of course!). Students love to create and collaborate!! I am a huge advocate for Project Based Learning where students take learning into their own hands and complete tasks that will help them be successful citizens one day.
Although young and less experienced than others, I believe with my whole heart that all students can learn, and technology serves a HUGE role in that. This is only my 4th year in education, and my 2nd year in the technology field. Prior to my technology focus, I taught in Korea for one year. Prior to that, I taught 2nd and 3rd grade for CMS. Currently, I am finishing up my graduate degree at UNC Charlotte in Instructional Systems Technology & Leadership. At home, my husband and I have four international students’ grades 8-11, and a baby on the way!
I also work for CMS as a Professional Development Master Teacher (PDMT), so you may see me in other areas of the district as well. Please follow me on Twitter @techystacey, and be part of my PLN where I post articles connected to technology, education, and motivation. I also attend the monthly Technology Facilitators meetings where I would love to meet other technology facilitators to collaborate on what they are doing at their schools and share ideas.