Staff Share Best Practices at Conferences

Posted by Thomas DeLoughry on 12/21/2018 6:01:00 AM

Staff Share Best Practices at Conferences

Wyckoff’s emergence as a leader in makerspaces and design-process learning has earned faculty and administrators recognition this year as presenters at conferences from the Garden State to the Lone Star State.


Stacey Linzenbold, supervisor of special projects, presented this fall with Jason Opremcak, an Eisenhower technology teacher, at the New Jersey Educational Computing Cooperative (NJECC) Conference at Montclair State University. Linzenbold then traveled with Jessica Lacasse, an instructional coach at Lincoln School, in December to Dallas for the Learning Forward conference to tell an audience of professional development practitioners about what is happening in Wyckoff.

Slide from NJECC presentation

The Montclair presentation focused primarily on explaining the array of STEAM-related (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) classes available to students from sixth through eighth grade at Eisenhower.


Some of the offerings have been updated in recent years and others, such as digital prototyping and replicating and music engineering and recording, are new. All of them are grounded in the “design process,” which requires students to identify a problem, think and imagine possible solutions, plan and design their solution, build the solution, and then improve and redesign the solution.


Linzenbold says NJECC sought presenters from Wyckoff after learning that the District had recently earned membership in the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools. She says the NJECC audience was particularly interested in the pathway Wyckoff has created for all students to take STEAM courses. “A lot of people are interested in coming to see what we’re doing or to get copies of our curricula,” Linzenbold added.


The Dallas conference, meanwhile, also focused on the design process, but put the audience in the role of students completing an actual activity from Wyckoff schools. For example, teachers were asked to design a free-standing shelter for Native Americans using basic items, such as popsicle sticks, rubber bands, glue, and a cotton swab.


Linzenbold and Lacasse also shared a five-minute video chronicling the efforts of a second-grade class to design and build a model of a house that could withstand a hurricane. And they ended their presentation by explaining their work in teaming with teachers to slowly introduce makerspaces by starting with professional education for teachers, adding opportunities for teachers to design activities, and then supporting those teachers with instructional coaches, and Professional Learning Community time where they can share, evaluate, and revise what they are doing.


The process, Linzenbold says, gave teachers the chance to express themselves, test things out, and then redesign the science curriculum. “This process was just like what we ask the kids to do,” she notes.


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