Upon entering iTech Preparatory School in Vancouver, Washington, USA on a chilly Monday morning, we were surrounded by a plethora of colourful artworks, projects and posters promoting STEM, STEAM and scientific enquiry decorated all around the classroom. From student progress charts to STEM learning step by steps, it was already becoming apparent why teacher Erin Lark was nominated as a state-level finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST), the highest honor bestowed on science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and computer science teachers.
As we started the interview, we quickly came to grips with Erin’s approach to teaching STEM and STEAM in the classroom and why she is so well recognized by the K-12 teaching community. As Erin answered each question, she delivered her answers in a simple yet methodical way, supplementing with visual metaphors like she’s introducing a complicated computer science concept to her classroom. And for a moment I felt like one of her students – engaged, ready to learn and discover.
One lasting lesson Erin leaves us with is about the importance of creating warmth with technology. If teachers don’t take the time to allow students to play and explore technology (of any kind), they’re not going to create a relationship or connection between the technology and the user.
The interview with Erin takes a deep dive into the meticulous, yet innovative mind of one of Washington State’s most exciting STEAM teachers. This free ebook covers a range of topics and tackles many important challenges experienced by K-12 teachers, such as:
- The importance of creating experiential opportunities for student learning impact
- How STEAM can improve student learning, from soft learning skills like communication, creativity and collaboration, to tangible learning skills like if statements, variables, conditionals
- The power of inquiry based learning and how to use it to create student learning experiences
- A free, downloadable wall poster – ‘The 5 Es of Inquiry-Based Learning’
- How to unlock fear of failure to create an enduring culture of learning
- How to overcome the challenges of introducing STEAM to teachers already overwhelmed with their existing workload therefore hesitant to introduce new technology
- A list of soft skills developed by Education Dive and SAM Labs associated with STEAM learning
- Tips for getting funding support from districts or administrators
- Erin’s interview highlights on YouTube
Ready to download the ebook? Click here!
If you would like to find out more about the power of STEM and STEAM and how to start your own program, here is a selection of handy resources for you to use:
- K-12 Teacher Interview: Why Educators Need to Make STEM/STEAM a Way of Life
- STEAM vs. STEM Learning for K-12: The True Definitions, Differences and Best Practices
- Sample STEAM Lessons
- SAM Labs STEAM Kit
- The Ultimate Edtech Grant Writing Guide and List of Grants
Niall is an EdTech writer eager to spread the word about STEAM and coding. Having previously taught as an ESL Teacher and experiencing the same workload stress, he’s passionate about creating opportunities for teachers to have the resources to create the best learning experiences for young learners.