Owasco Elementary School
Auburn City School District
Victoria Calarco is currently the school librarian, as well as the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) Instructor at Owasco Elementary School, part of the Auburn Enlarged City School District.
How has Victoria helped integrate technology at Owasco Elementary School?
Victoria has been instrumental in creating the Innovation Lab at Owasco Elementary. In the lab, students use technology tools from sewing machines to circuitry kits to help develop their STEAM skills, and enjoy the opportunity to become creators. She has also incorporated STEAM curriculum into her instruction through other innovative activities, including video conferences with scientists from many different geographic locations. One such meeting included a high school science teacher, who helped the students dissect a frog’s eye.
Notably, she also participates in global projects as a member of iEARN, an international community of K-12 educators and youth that collaborate on projects and learn together. One such project had students mading light-up cards using copper tape and LED lights, which they sent to students in other countries. In January, Victoria will be taking her integration efforts abroad, when she travels to Cameroon, Africa with two other educators to help install a water system that students Owasco students helped raise money for. Using a 3D camera, she will share her experiences throughout the trip with students via pictures and videos.
Victoria also participated in recent a training held by Code.org in Phoenix, AZ, and she is currently in the process of implementing Code.org’s Computer Science Discoveries program at Owasco, which will become a model for the Auburn Enlarged City School District in its efforts to integrate coding into the curriculum.
How have students benefited from Victoria’s technology integration initiatives?
Victoria’s students are developing an innovator’s mindset. During STEAM activities, boundless creation is encouraged and “failure” is simply a necessary part of the learning process. She reinforces this message through her role as a to mentor to students who participate in the BOCES Innovative Design Challenge (for which five teams from her school participated).
Moreover, Victoria has sought to expose her students to the world around them through her video conferences and iEARN projects, and will show them a place they’ve likely never been to before when she broadcasts live from Africa. By showing her students that there are many different ways to learn (and many different cultures to learn from), Victoria is expanding their life experience beyond the four walls of the classroom. Many of the best learning experiences can happen when one makes meaningful connections to the world around them, and Victoria has sought to open as many doors to that world as possible for the students at Owasco Elementary.
“I think the biggest way in which I've impacted my students is by trying to empower them,” said Victoria. “I think my students, even though they are young, are capable of doing great things that can make a positive difference in the world. I want them to dream big and stay inspired.”
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