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Developing a STEAM-Enhanced Curriculum: Concordia Course Spotlight

By The Room 241 Team November 2, 2018

Whether you’re new to the STEAM movement or you already enjoy teaching STEAM lessons and projects, Concordia’s MEd in Curriculum & Instruction: STEAM may offer the type of advancement you seek. It’s a great way to take your professional development to the next level.

Dr Ann Richbourg Concordia faculty

Ann Hodge Richbourg, EdD

This program offers courses like EDCI 563 “From Theory to Practice: Developing a STEAM-Enhanced Curriculum.” To find out more about what it entails, we connected with adjunct instructor Ann Hodge Richbourg, EdD. 

What’s the goal of this course?

Upon completion of this course, candidates will be able to utilize best practices in both lesson planning and evaluation to integrate STEAM best practices into their current curriculum.

What strategies do students typically gain from this course?

Students learn how to create a STEAM lesson plan/curriculum template with eight units, which can be used at their school site with engaging lessons focusing on their state’s standards.

What are a couple of examples of homework assignments?

One example is an assignment in which students conduct website reviews. As busy educators, they do not always have the time to find and develop resources on their own. So in this assignment, they research and share a minimum of five relevant websites pertaining to the development of engaging learning activities that focus on STEAM integration. They summarize each resource, explaining how it could be used to address best practices and standards, how it relates to STEAM, and how it could be helpful in creating quality instruction. Collectively, the class develops a helpful list of STEAM resources that they can use now and in the future.

Another assignment is called “Formative Assessment Tools.” In this one, students select at least two classmates’ submissions and review their formative assessment tools for their year-long curriculum. After reviewing the tools, they offer feedback, ask questions, and share ideas.

Here are some of the questions they ask themselves when reviewing these tools:

  • Are best practices understood and evident?
  • Are the standards addressed?
  • How did they incorporate one or more Next Generation Science Standards and engineering practices?
  • Would a different type of assessment be more effective? What is missing?

In addition to providing feedback to two classmates, students actively engaging in dialogue with peers who give them feedback on their own formative assessment tools.

What’s your favorite aspect of this course?

My favorite aspect of teaching this course is that the students have an opportunity to collaborate with one another and share their templates. This provides them with ideas that they may never have thought of and it provides them with many opportunities to reflect and improve their STEAM-related lessons to make them more engaging.

This course culminates in a distinct year-long plan study. Can you tell us more about this and the benefits of this project?

This course requires that they complete a minimum of eight units within the five-week course framework that hit specific standards that are mandated throughout the school year. Students are using STEM standards and arts standards in this course.

With eight units completed, students will have a fluid document to tweak throughout the year with examples of STEM and arts standards, best practices, formative assessments, summative assessments, and rubrics. They will also have multiple examples of other templates created by their classmates to provide them with additional ideas that can be used in their classrooms. The Discussion Board also provides the students with suggestions of appropriate processes of implementation through practical experiences.

What do you enjoy most about working with Concordia’s MEd students?

I have enjoyed teaching online courses since 2003 and specifically for Concordia since 2015. Concordia University-Portland students can be very polite and most of them work hard to complete their assignments. Working with adults from a variety of backgrounds helps me learn from them just as they learn from me.

What are two crucial components needed to create a STEAM-enhanced curriculum that’s engaging and impactful?

Our educators must be able to work collaboratively with their colleagues who teach other subjects because being able to integrate their subjects and standards is significant to the STEAM philosophy.

Educators must be able to pull updated resources related to STEAM curriculum on a continuous basis, always reflecting and adjusting these engaging lessons which can be assessed formatively and summatively. Lastly, we must remember that STEAM lessons should encourage women and minorities to enter these fields.

In order for a STEAM program to be successful in a school, what traits do you think teachers and school leaders need to have?

It is most important to have administrative buy-in. Many of the districts today are requiring teachers to only teach to the standards and curriculum must only focus on pre-determined lessons that were created by the district. Once the administrators approve of the STEAM lessons to be integrated, they will need to provide the teachers with time to share their content knowledge for true collaboration through PLC/Professional Learning Communities.

Feedback from Cavaliers

“This course provided a great introduction and background knowledge needed to gain insight and an understanding of applying STEAM principles in the classroom.” – Natalie

I truly enjoyed the professional interactions with my classmates. I also enjoyed [having] classmates from all over and hearing about all the wonderful things educators are doing. The idea of facilitating this type of learning environment is very exciting.” – Christine

“This course was probably one of my favorites in my program. Parts of it could be overwhelming but it was so useful creating a curriculum that you can actually use! It was great to go so in-depth into the standards and working to find arts standards that align with the STEM standards. I learned my curriculum better than I had known it before! I also got many great ideas and websites from my classmates.” – Erica

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