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STEAM Summer Institutes as a Model for Professional Development

Listen and learn

Listen and learn : Snapshot

Lynette Lortz  
Anthony Mannarino  
Aileen Owens  

South Fayette’s STEAM Summer Institute draws national attention for its focus on bringing computing to all. Educators from around the country learn, and then implement, new content during the school year. Learn how this model for PD impacts over 8,000 students annually.

Audience: Chief technology officers/superintendents/school board members, Curriculum/district specialists, Professional developers
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices not needed
Participant accounts, software and other materials: None
Topic: Professional learning
Grade level: PK-12
Subject area: STEM/STEAM, Computer science
ISTE Standards: For Coaches:
Visionary Leadership
  • Contribute to the development, communication and implementation of a shared vision for the comprehensive use of technology to support a digital age education for all students.
Professional Development and Program Evaluation
  • Design, develop and implement technology-rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult learning and promote digital age best practices in teaching, learning and assessment.
For Education Leaders:
Equity and Citizenship Advocate
  • Ensure all students have skilled teachers who actively use technology to meet student learning needs.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

Participants will gain an understanding of how South Fayette School District was able to plan, fund, and implement a Summer Professional Development first for its own teachers and then open it to others in order to grow capacity in the region.

Participants will discover ways in which they can implement summer professional development opportunities for their educators in ways that provide meaningful learning experiences that can easily be implemented in the classroom.

Participants will discover strategies for building support for computer science initiatives in their communities and contexts.

Participants will be able to envision how Computer Science and Computational Thinking can extend into specific content areas and empower students with specific needs.

Educational Situation/Challenge:
This session is ideal for participants looking to build STEAM/computer science professional development opportunities for educators. Participants at the organization level will benefit from hearing about the Summer Institute growth and progression throughout the past 6 years.

An emphasis will be placed on the tools used in our K-12 classrooms to encourage coding and computational thinking. These tools include robotics, programming platforms, and--most importantly--instructional strategies for creating problem-based learning experiences: visible thinking routines, habits of mind, and human-centered design thinking.

Participants will learn through an interactive lecture that will allow the presenters ample time to share their materials, but will also give attendees the opportunities to share their experiences and ideas, and explore their specific questions.

Lesson Plan Resources:
Participants will have access to our 2020 Summer Institute website, which will provide additional information about the program and courses offered.

Evidence of Success:
This session will be considered a success if audience members who are considering starting a professional development program for their educators leave with manageable ideas to implement in the new school year. For audience members who already have one of these initiatives in place, this session will be a success if they leave with a deeper understanding of how to extend these initiatives into other areas of the curriculum or community.


Overview of South Fayette’s STEAM Model for Innovation, which embeds computational thinking and computer programming into K-12 education. Participants will also learn how this model was modified to fit neighboring school districts' culture and was successfully implemented through the STEAM Summer Institute. (10 minutes)

After the introduction, South Fayette teachers will share the progression and growth of the STEAM Summer Institute, while highlighting success stories from educators in a variety of settings. (10 minutes)

South Fayette's Director of Technology and Innovation will share data on how we know this model is impacting students and teachers on a national level and provide insight into "little bets" District Leadership should take in order to accomplish similar goals. (5 minutes)

Attendees will break into small groups with the presenters as facilitators in order to have time to ask specific questions. (5 minutes)

Supporting research

Wagner, Tony, and Robert A. Compton. Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World. New York: Scribner, 2012.

Brennan, Karen. Creative Computing. Harvard Graduate School of Education. Creative Commons, 2012.

Murphy Paul, Annie. “The Coding Revolution.” Scientific American Aug. 2016:42-49. Online and Print.

Hodges, Charles B. Emerging Research, Practice, and Policy on Computational Thinking. Ed. Peter J. Rich. N.p.: Springer Verlag, 2017. Print. (Chapter "A Future-Focused Education: Designed to Create the Innovators of Tomorrow.” Laurie F. Ruberg and Aileen Owens. 367-392.)

Rondinelli, Bille, Dr., and Aileen M. Owens. “Computational Thinking.” AASA May 2017: 23-27. Print and Online.

Gormley, William T., Jr. Critical Advantage. S.I.: Harvard Education, 2017. Print. (Chapter discussing South Fayette. Chapter 7. Critical Thinking and the Technological Revolution. 157-185)

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Lynette Lortz, South Fayette High School
Anthony Mannarino, South Fayette Middle School
Aileen Owens, Director of Technology and Innov

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