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Blogs

RIDE supports several blogs throughout our website where Rhode Islanders and RIDE staff share their thoughts.

On this page, we have collected all of the blogs on our site - many of which share posts from Rhode Island educators other than RIDE staff. Blogs are listed in alphabetical order:

  • Commissioner's Corner: Blog posts and messages from the Commissioner to the Rhode Island community.
  • District Teacher of the Year (DTOY): Posts from the Rhode Island District Teachers of the Year, past and present, who share about instructional successes and challenges they encounter in Rhode Island classrooms.
  • Equitable Access to Excellent Educators: Rhode Island educators and RIDE staff explore factors and perspectives on the importance of ensuring that all students are taught by high quality educators.
  • Leadership: Reflections and insights from RIDE’s Leadership Fellow and other district and school leaders on the challenges and opportunities of being a school leader.
  • Rhode Island Poet Laureate: Reflections and poetry focused on teaching, learning, and the experience of education from Tina Cane, Rhode Island Poet Laureate.
  • Rhode Island Science Education (R.I.S.E.): A communication blog to update stakeholders in education and in the community on important developments, events and accomplishments in science education in Rhode Island.
  • Student Voice: Because student voice is an essential component of our discussion on education, RIDE will post essays written by students from around Rhode Island.

Click on a category below to filter by a particular blog:




STEAM Ahead

Posted by: Kamlyn Keith on 3/29/2019
Susan Morgan
2019 Warwick Teacher of the Year
Visual Arts & Technology Teacher
Winman Middle School

My journey, trials and successes in STEAM learning and teaching in the middle school setting. I hope to inspire others to introduce STEAM through arts integration.

Winman teachers at their STEAM workshop in February 2019Winman Teachers at our STEAM workshop. February 2019

Several years ago, I found myself caught in the teacher “slump.” I had been teaching Technology for 10 years and there was nothing exciting or new about it. Then, I had the opportunity to team up with a Visual Arts teacher to do a collaborative project and I jumped at it! For me, it was the beginning of a new phase in my teaching and more importantly in my lifelong learning. After all, as teachers, shouldn’t we be lifelong learners, too?

The Art teacher and I drafted a unit that incorporated lessons about kinetic artists, the Elements of Design, alternative energy technology, the design process, research, and documentation. After we cleaned out a corner of our school’s old wood lab, we gathered some tools and combined our classes. As we presented the lessons and the students started to research, plan, and build their wind-powered kinetic sculptures, we turned to each other and said, “We are on to something.” Our most disengaged students became leaders in the class! No matter what the level of the learner, students were ALL engaged, sharing ideas, skills, and knowledge. Behavior problems were minimal. This was the beginning.

After the project, we applied for a grant from Champlin Foundation to refurbish our old wood lab into a state-of-the-art fabrication lab and our library into a Makerspace. To our surprise, the district administration loved the idea and signed off on the proposal, promising to do the physical renovation of the room. Our school was awarded a $90,000 grant and, as a result, I gained a new “job”! In addition to teaching, I am now a coordinator of the lab and the STEAM lead at my school. Although this volunteer job presents quite a challenge, and has required many hours in designing and coordinating the “STEAM” program, it is an opportunity I would not trade for the world. I have found that, like me, many teachers feel stagnant in their teaching practice. With the help of my team, co-leader, and support of district and school administrators, we have been able to offer an opportunity to change that as we slowly integrate arts into core curricular areas. My district has begun to offer Project Based Learning classes in the middle schools. As teachers become more comfortable managing students in “making,” and offering assessment projects rather than just tests and exams, our school culture is changing along with our goals. Our STEAM team is comprised of dedicated core teachers. These teachers have also seen, and therefore shared, the excitement of watching students “learn by doing.”

During the last three years that we have implemented the STEAM lab (fabrication lab), our goals have had to change. At first, the work focused on setting up systems such as safety, training, and inventory. We then engaged the faculty in a lab tour and making activity. We implemented an after-school Makers Club and STEAM workshops, and hosted a community-wide art installation emphasizing our mission and vision statements. Presently, we are planning for our first STEAM Family Night, which will include a design challenge! During the next school year, we hope to move from arts integration to STEAM with an academic team challenge.

This grant opportunity has created new challenges that I had not anticipated, but which allow me to grow as a learner, a teacher, and a leader. This process has taught me that experience is the best teacher and that I love to learn. My hope is to be a role model to my students and colleagues in adopting this mindset.

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