The conference is being led by Heather Sondel, Assistant Principal of Thomas Jefferson. She talked a bit about TJ and STEM in general. She left us with the question of the day – “what is STEM, anyway?”. She then asked us to get in groups with other teachers from our school to make a quick poster outlining why we were at the conference, what our school’s mission statement says, what we are hoping to get out of the conference, and a little about our school. There are about 28 teachers from around the country and Guam. Most are from public school and have been sent by the superintendent.
We then learned that the JOSTI conference is going on this week also at TJ, so we went to listen to their Keynote address by Stephen Balkam, founding CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute. Lots of interesting stuff about internet safety and then a great panel of 2 students and a teacher. Lots of talk about facebook, how much time is spent on facebook, at what age kids are typically allowed to get a facebook account by their parents.. One thing I loved that the teacher said: on the 1st day of school, instead of asking students what they did over the summer, he used facebook to search out the students and told them what he knew they did over the summer. This may be a great way to start Web Design next year!
In the afternoon, our mission was to answer the question: what is STEM? We were presented with a bunch of articles to read and then discuss in groups. I read one talking about Obama’s STEM initiative and skimmed one about creativity (no specific mention of STEM). By the end of the day, we still did not have an “answer” to our original question. We talked quite a bit about authentic learning tasks and the merits of APs.
My full conference notes can be viewed here.