Texas Educator Amy Storer Takes PBL to a Whole New Level
Texas has a long history in the pantheon of computing, so it’s no mystery that Texas still creates thousands of computing jobs and will eventually need code-minded students to fill those. Montgomery, TX, educator Amy Storer – also a Tynker Blue Ribbon Educator – makes creativity in the classroom her focus. Along with other dedicated code-minded educators, Amy even moderated Monday’s #Tynkerchat on Twitter! Here’s a little more about Amy:
Amy is graduate of Lamar University with a Master’s in Educational Technology Leadership. She is an instructional coach in Montgomery ISD. This coming school year, she will be helping to open up their newest K-5 campus, Keenan Elementary, as their Instructional Coach. She has taught grades 1-4, and is also a technology integration mentor for her district. She holds two Teacher of the Year distinctions and, in 2015, was a top four finalist in HEB’s Excellence in Education in the “Leadership Elementary” category. You can reach her on Twitter at @TechAmyS.
This week, Amy shared her excitement for a new school year of sharing:
1. The demand for computing skills in Texas is higher than average (like 4x higher). What’s motivating you to bring coding skills to your students?
My motivation comes from a student that I had in my class when I taught 4th grade math/science. He was a very shy student, but as soon as you put him in front of a computer and gave him a safe space to code, he became a whole other child. It gave a voice to him that I do not believe would have happened otherwise. I know in my heart that computer science is in his future – but what would have happened to that projected path if he wasn’t ever introduced to computer science? That is my motivation.
2. What advice do you have for teachers that aren’t yet clued into Computer Science as a necessary skill?
Kids want to code. Computers and technology fascinate them! Why not give them opportunities to build on that fascination? Computer science exploration has many benefits including perseverance, collaboration, communication, problem solving, and critical thinking. These are skills that we want our students to have when they enter the workforce. The earlier that we can expose them to these skill sets, the better.
3. What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on with students?
My favorite project is “Let’s Take a Trip to Mars.” As a PBL facilitator, I was searching for ways to make learning about soil more meaningful and exciting. I reached out to Ginger Lewman and Kevin Honeycutt, and they pointed me in the right direction. The students were tasked to build a self-sustaining garden on Mars that would help them survive there for many years. We were able to connect with a local farmer, a martian soil expert, and we even reached out to NASA. It was such a wonderful experience for my kids! Check out my blog post about it! I also share about it on Ginger’s podcast.
4. Who are you learning most from these days?
I am learning more and more from the wonderful group of educators that make up #PasstheScopeEDU. Each month, on the third Thursday, educators from around the world Periscope about something related to a theme. This past month was about #BounceBack, and many shared ways to start the year off right. I highly encourage all educators to join this awesome movement. You will not regret it!
5. Should we treat this new school year like any other? How might we advance the discussion of creativity in the classroom?
Never treat a new school year like any other! It is a new year to impact the lives of students, and each group of students is never like the last. We must adapt to them each and every year. They should not be adapting to us.
Creativity over consumption is crucial in classrooms today. It is important to recognize that creativity is not separate from our content areas. It is a part of it. It isn’t about a special activity. It is about the whole curriculum. Our students enter school as creative human beings, and somewhere along the way, that creativity is lost in the education system. We must fight to correct that. Our students, our kids, deserve more.
Thanks again Amy! We’ll look for you on Twitter at @TechAmyS!
Join Amy as she moderates #Tynkerchat for us this Monday.