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You're Invited: A Creativi-TEA Party

Pennsylvania Convention Center, 122B

Participate and share : Interactive session


Director of Innovation & Strategic Partn
South Fayette School District
Matthew Callison, Ph.D., is a leader, entrepreneur, educator, author, and consultant who is passionate about creating transformative technology-rich, learner-centered environments for people of all ages.
Technology Teacher
South Fayette Middle School
STEAM Teacher
South Fayette Township School District
ISTE Certified Educator
As an elementary STEAM teacher, Melissa teaches students the beginnings of computer programming and helps them to design, build, and bring their ideas to life as they use technology. A life-long Maker, Melissa’s elementary STEAM curriculum intertwines art and science and challenges students to think critically while using their imaginations to construct new realities. Melissa leads out-of-school computer programming clubs for upper elementary students, family nights for the community, and STEAM professional development for educators. Melissa is also a member of Agency by Design and is currently working on her doctorate in STEM Education.
Technology Literacy Teacher 3-5
South Fayette Intermediate School
Shad Wachter teaches technology literacy to students in grades 3-5 at South Fayette Intermediate School in McDonald, PA. Since 1999, he has been a band director, technology assistant, STEAM teacher and technology literacy teacher. Always willing to share his experiences and learn from others, Shad has presented at various regional, state, national, and international conferences. He also has provided professional development in teaching computational thinking to young coders, most recently to schools in rural Kentucky. His curriculum is comprised of keyboarding, digital citizenship, block based computer programming, and desktop publishing. He considers himself to be an innovation integrator.

Session description

Join us as we share our students' favorite projects from our K-12 STEAM pathway. Learn about the transformative effect of particular projects as students move through school and into the workforce. Participate in a creativity challenge while learning ways to leverage STEAM activities for student engagement.
Grade level: PK-12
Skill level: Beginner

Purpose & objective

The purpose of this presentation is to showcase the powerful learning that arises from cross-curricular, STEAM-focused learning at all grade levels.

Attendees will leave with an understanding of how our district created a K-12 STEAM pathway that aligns with classroom content and allows students time to pursue their interests and passions.

Additionally, attendees will leave with tangible ideas for STEAM integration in their own contexts, with resources provided from a variety of grade levels and subject areas.

Attendees will be able to leave the presentation feeling an increased sense of confidence in their own understanding of cross-curricular collaboration.

This presentation will be a lecture (at the beginning), a conversation (in the middle), and a hands-on learning experience (at the end) in order to allow participants the opportunity to engage with the material in a variety of meaningful ways.

The presenters are are leaders in the field of STEAM education and routinely lead professional development and share their work with researchers and outside organizations. The resources shared in this presentation will be a mix of student-generated work, our lesson plans and planning guides, and research conducted on our practices.

This presentation will be considered a success if participants leave feeling inspired by our students' successes, and by the session's conversations, to try something new in their own classrooms when they return to school.

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This session will be framed around a "tea party" theme where participants will be "invited" to participate in a variety of STEAM "snacks"--small challenges that focus on creativity and teamwork while also tying into various areas of the K-5 curriculum.

To begin the session, the presenters will introduced themselves and their classroom contexts (K-12) and will then showcase their students' TOP STEAM projects of all time. This showcase will take place through a student-filmed video interviewing students on their perspectives. Students will not only share their favorite project, but WHY the project was meaningful to them, and what they learned from it. After the video, the presenters will share their own reflections as well as show some of students' physical creations. (20 minutes)

Attendees will then engage with the presenters through a series of reflection questions aimed at what they observed in the student responses and their own experiences in their schools. (5 minutes)

During this part of the session, the conversation will focus on how to create opportunities for meaningful STEAM engagement regardless of time constraints or materials. Tables will be set up around the room with four small adaptations of easy-to-implement STEAM projects. Participants will be asked to choose two stations that meet their interests, and follow the "recipe card" for each activity. Participants will be completing the activities with others so that collaboration and conversation can take place. (20 minutes)

At the conclusion of the session, the presenters will lead participants in a reflection focused on both their experiences at each station, and about their ideas for implementing similar activities in their own classroom. (10 minutes)

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Supporting research

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

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)

Quigley, C. F., Herro, D., King, E., & Plank, H. (2020). STEAM Designed and Enacted: Understanding the Process of Design and Implementation of STEAM Curriculum in an Elementary School. Journal of Science Education & Technology, 29(4), 499–518.

Resnick, M., & Robinson, K. (2018). Lifelong kindergarten: Cultivating creativity through projects, passion, peers, and play. The MIT Press.

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Session specifications

Maker activities and programs
Curriculum/district specialists, Library media specialists, Teachers
Attendee devices:
Devices not needed
Participant accounts, software and other materials:
Subject area:
ISTE Standards:
For Educators:
  • Dedicate planning time to collaborate with colleagues to create authentic learning experiences that leverage technology.
  • Design authentic learning activities that align with content area standards and use digital tools and resources to maximize active, deep learning.
For Students:
Empowered Learner
  • Students articulate and set personal learning goals, develop strategies leveraging technology to achieve them and reflect on the learning process itself to improve learning outcomes.

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