My next presentation was called "Rewind! Designing Successful STEM Lessons in El. School." This was a group of teachers from a STEAM school who obviously worked well (and hard) together to create PBL type projects for their students. Their explanation of what they were doing made me realize that my school was on the right track, and doing a strong job. Above is an example of an anchor chart they use to demand strong argumentative writing from students. I liked their acronym, and they shared that it too came from a book (which I found but didn't purchase).
Even though it was threatening to rain all day (and we did experience light rain) we decided to use our lunch time to grab a short paddle boat tour and see the Mississippi. We realized there were so many different types of brides along St. Louis, and the newest cable-stay bridge is still in the process of being built. I took a bunch of different pics for my bridge building unit I sometimes use at the end of the year (just not this one).
The St. Louis waterfront is very industrialized, which makes sense given its history. Above is a picture of a barge getting grain deposited into it for the trek down river.
As we returned down river we saw the wonderful view of downtown with the arch and the Dredd Scott courthouse. When we disembarked we dashed back the couple blocks to the Convention Center and more presentations.
My 3:00 presentation was called Taking STEM Outdoors. I hadn't realized in picking this class that I had already bought both of this man's books, one called Bringing Outdoor Science In, and the other called Outdoor Science, a practical guide. We were essentially a group of nature lovers listening to this man run through a ton of ideas. While he was speaking he had tasked two teachers with building a butterfly net out of a hanger, dowel, duck tape and fishing line. This is what they came up with. I thought it was pretty smart (although I would take out the fishing line). He spoke about funding natural science ideas, especially gardens and a couple of apps that I didn't know, but will go find our building's supply of ipod touches and make sure I can use them. He spoke a lot about the various citizen scientist websites (the dirty north app specifically) to involve kids in backyard science. This has been something I've been interested in for next year, but hadn't yet researched. He also shared some books (one I need to find about biomimicry) that might be useful in the classroom..
At 4:30 I started in one class, but left after the tone of the class rubbed me wrong. Let's just say that when speaking to a bunch of elementary teachers (it was in the 3-5 section) don't start off by insulting us and telling us we're teaching wrong. It doesn't sit well. So off I traipsed to my 2nd choice, and I struck gold.
THEN, even with it being the 5:30 class on the last day of the conference, I went to Ideas in Motion by Greg Brown. I have never had SO.MUCH.FUN! He works for a group at raft.net (resource area for teachers). If you are local to them (California and Denver) you can join for like $25.00 and take a bunch of classes like the one he taught us. I had a blast because it was the only class that embodied the Maker Movement I'm so currently obsessed with right now.
We first made this contraption which, when rolled on its side, stores up motion in the rubber band and then will return to you. I could easily use this as a hook lesson for Force and Motion (and it is supper cheap). The second activity involved a tube, a medical glove, and a straw. I didn't get any pictures because like everyone else in my class, I was too busy playing my new bagpipe type instrument. We teachers made a lovely din with our new toys. Definitely something to share with whomever teaches sound (I think 3rd grade).
After my class, two of us headed to Pi -- let's be honest, where else would I have eaten, and had a cornbread type pizza. It was delicious. Then back to the hotel to pack, prepare to leave, and start reading all of my new books and planning all of my new plans for next year.
This was an excellent experience, and I am so pleased that our lead teacher and principal find these trips to be useful to our staff. I am definitely lucky to have a district support us in such a way.