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Using Writing to Learn From Our Mistakes in the STEAM Classroom

Listen and learn

Listen and learn : Snapshot

Saturday, December 5, 11:30 am–12:15 pm PST (Pacific Standard Time)

Kat Sauter  
In the Principals of Engineering Course at the Advanced Learning Academy in San Antonio ISD, students put the process before the product through reflective writing. Using kernel essay structures, they reflect on the year as they build skateboards to embrace the "skateboard mentality" of learning through failure.

Audience: Coaches, Curriculum/district specialists, Teachers
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Windows, Android, iOS
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Topic: Maker activities & programs
Grade level: 6-12
Subject area: STEM/STEAM
ISTE Standards: For Educators:
  • Design authentic learning activities that align with content area standards and use digital tools and resources to maximize active, deep learning.
For Students:
Digital Citizen
  • Students cultivate and manage their digital identity and reputation and are aware of the permanence of their actions in the digital world.
Additional detail: Session recorded for video-on-demand

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

Literacy will always be at the forefront of educational intiatives. As STEAM educators, leveraging the relevant, public audience of the student portfolio and student-led conferences can allow space for a deep dive in the process behind students' creative endeavors. Rarely are STEAM educators as well-versed in teaching writing as they may be in teaching, say, coding. Tips an tricks for structuring the writing around the project gives attendees strategies to lead students to write a public reflection that exposes their learning to an authentic audience, encouraging revision and well-structured writing that touches a variety of readers, not just your English teacher. Technologies used include Google Classroom and Campus Press. Kernel Essay structures and revision strategies, developed and published by Gretchen Bernabei, are used to show teachers how easy it can be to guide students through the writing process. Additional models include maker education, project-based learning and blended learning. Resources available to attendees include project rubric, sample structures, student exemplars and public exhibition examples.


An overview of the Bumps, Gravity and the Unfamiliar project, employed in a public high school engineering class will be provided (5 minutes). Strategies for blending learning in the makerspace will be provided by presenting the 3 modules used in the project: Design, Build and Reflect (10 minutes). Presenters will introduce the Kernel Essay structures, the planning process that led to their selection, and the scaffolding that can be done for students to produce high-quality writing inspired by STEAM projects (15 minutes). The audience will be given access to a link for resources and opportunities to interact by sharing their experiences and asking questions digitally.

Supporting research

South Fremont High school in Idaho saw SAT scores particularly improve in writing after taking a STEAM approach along with Common-Core aligned writing prompts.
STEM and Writing: A Super Combination

More [+]


Kat Sauter, San Antonio ISD

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