Teachers set a course for STREAM

Wed, Aug 24th 2016 02:00 pm
Catholic school teachers get hands-on STREAM training Wednesday at St. Joseph Collegiate Institute in Kenmore. (George Richert)
Catholic school teachers get hands-on STREAM training Wednesday at St. Joseph Collegiate Institute in Kenmore. (George Richert)

With two weeks to go before the start of the school year, more than 300 Catholic school teachers from the Diocese of Buffalo gathered on Wednesday at St. Joseph Collegiate Institute to get some hands on preparation for teaching various STREAM courses to students in the coming school year. 

Some of them met in the Physics Lab to learn about robotics. Some assembled a marble roller coaster out of pipe insulation and toilet paper rolls so that they know how to teach the same challenge to students. Others learned how to teach the use of new apps that will allow students to make presentations through video and infographics instead of on paper.

"It's a real happy day," said Jean Comer, coordinator of the STREAM Education Initiative. "To pull people together, there's a certain energy there. We're working to bring the best possible teaching- engaged learning to our kids, and we're training together."

The focus of the morning training involved 195 teachers learning about STREAM Academy, which includes 12 courses rooted in project-based , hands on, real-life learning. Some schools will teach this during class time. Some are choosing to teach it after school. The majority of the 35 Diocesan elementary schools, 27 schools, will run STREAM Academy this coming year. During the 14 afternoon sessions, 130 teachers received tech training on everything from Google, to coding, to video presentations involving Aminmoto. Much of it will be taught from Pre-K all the way through eighth grade.

"This is the creative piece between Common Core and standards," said Comer. "Teachers get to return back to why we became teachers. It's a creative art. They can be innovative. They love it, and that joy gets passed along to the students."

STREAM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics.  The National Catholic Education Association came up with conceptual idea of STREAM about three years ago, but it did not include a specific road map for how to implement it, and that's where the Diocese of Buffalo Schools have been leading the way.

"Many of these courses have been developed by our own teachers," said Comer, who designed a lot of the STREAM Academy courses from work she had done as an enrichment teacher at St. Gregory the Great.  Dozens of Catholic School districts from around the country have called the Buffalo diocese education department to purchase STREAM Academy course work.

At a STREAM symposium in Philadelphia earlier this summer, educators from 37 states were represented and many of them were eager to implement STREAM in their own districts, according to Comer. "By the time we presented on the Academy, it was standing room only. We integrate a lot of social justice and faith pieces throughout a lot of these courses, so it satisfies that need."

To learn more click: https://www.wnycatholicschools.org/stream

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