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Guaranteeing the 'A' in STEAM Through English Language Arts Technology Integration

Explore and create

Explore and create : Creation lab

Wednesday, December 2, 3:30–4:20 pm PST (Pacific Standard Time)

Blake Pope  
The arts play an important role in technology-based education but are often overlooked. By integrating a maker mentality and technology —including VR/AR, website development and 3D printing — into English language arts, teachers can kick-start STEAM integration in their schools and future-proof their classrooms.

Audience: Curriculum/district specialists, Teachers, Library media specialists
Skill level: Intermediate
Attendee devices: Devices required
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Windows, Android, iOS
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Participant accounts, software and other materials: Google account, TinkerCAD or Sketchup, some working knowledge of Google Sites or Adobe Spark; also working knowledge of Merge Cubes.
Topic: Maker activities & programs
Grade level: 6-12
Subject area: Language arts, STEM/STEAM
ISTE Standards: For Students:
Innovative Designer
  • Students select and use digital tools to plan and manage a design process that considers design constraints and calculated risks.
  • Students know and use a deliberate design process for generating ideas, testing theories, creating innovative artifacts or solving authentic problems.
Knowledge Constructor
  • Students build knowledge by actively exploring real-world issues and problems, developing ideas and theories and pursuing answers and solutions.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

English language arts (ELA) classrooms usually operate by focusing, rightfully, only on two basic skills: reading and writing. However, with the advent of pervasive technology and the STEAM movement, adding technology and design methodologies to reading and writing has opened new avenues for teachers to explore alternative projects, project based learning, and technology infused classroom instruction and project. However, often ELA teachers are limited by one or all of several factors: funding issues, knowledge, skill sets, mindset, ties to traditional curricular models, or departmental/district goals. This presentation seeks to give ELA teacher or curriculum coaches avenues and methodologies for adding technologically enabled lessons with design thinking components.

Attendees will experience and build three different types of ELA lesson types that will help to enable teachers to take the first step:
- Teaching storytelling / communal storytelling through Role Playing Game (RPG) play in a low technology, medium technology, and high technology version of game play.
- Using whiteboard tables and dry erase markers (any other medium could fill the creative aspect of the approach) students leave creative feedback for student writing in the form of written feedback or drawn feedback
- How to create Augmented Reality Pop Up books using TinkerCAD or Sketchup and Merge Cubes.

Each lesson has been taught by our presenters and we will walk our attendees through the process of making and developing the lesson plan within the session. Each attendee will also receive a collection of lesson plans on how to integrate technology and design thinking into the ELA classroom.


This presentation will follow this structure:
- Introductions (2 min)
- Overview of the session including an outline of all activities (5 min)
- Break into Role Playing Groups and play the game (25 min)
- Discuss the different game variant and answer any questions (5 min)
- Give teachers a minute to run through the crazy eights design thinking project (10 min)
- Discuss an overview of Graffiti Peer Feedback (3 min)
- Engage in Graffiti Peer Feedback (5 min)
- Unpack as a group how Graffiti Peer Feedback can help students share feedback quickly (5 min)
- Share and discuss an Augmented Reality Pop Up Book (5 min)
- Help teachers log in to either TinkerCAD or Sketchup and walk through how to create a .stl object with an attached story. (20 min)
- Final questions and feedback (5 min)

Supporting research

Recently many books have espoused a maker mentality in the classroom and has pushed teachers to develop new lesson plans that encourage 21st skills, or soft skills, including collaboration, creativity, communication, global empathy, and critical thinking. One of the key texts, "Intention" by Amy Burvall and Dan Ryder, explores the depths creativity can plumb when properly encouraged and engaged in the classroom. Using simple processes like color, shape, fonts, and design, claim Burvall and Ryder, can change how we understand our students and how our students understand our curricular materials. Also with recent changes due to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), particularly the development of "Portrait of a Graduate" documents, skills that develop creativity in the ELA, like empathy, collaboration, design, etc., are considered desirable for employers. Furthermore, when we employ technology educators can create innovative spaces for students to take classic pedagogical and curricular devices and turn them into 21st Century skill based learning tools.

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Blake Pope, Weber School District

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