Library Media Specialist
Fremont Elementary School
East Syracuse Minoa Central School District
For the past seven years, Penny Meskos has been a library media specialist at Fremont Elementary School, in the East Syracuse Minoa Central School District. Prior to that, she was a sixth grade teacher for Chittenango Central Schools, and a librarian at the Fayetteville Free Library.
How has Penny brought innovation into her classroom?
The current trend in education - empowering students to learn through hands-on creation - has seen the traditional “library” (a place that houses books) transform into the center of innovation and discovery within a school building. As a Library Media Specialist, Penny has integrated a variety of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) initiatives into Fremont Elementary School’s curriculum to match this transformation. These design challenges and problem-solving activities are woven into the library classes during a period of time known as the: “Innovation Station.”
Penny has rearranged her weekly library classes to include an Innovation Station day, in addition to the traditional library curriculum. This extra library day gives her time to teach her students the concepts of 3D printing and computer programming, using tools such as OSMO, TinkerCAD, Ozobots, Dot and Dash, and Kodable. Many of the activities taking place during Innovation Station time are focused on problem-solving, and utilize engineering design challenges that encourage students to try to find different types of solutions and explore many possible outcomes.
How have students benefited from Penny’s technology integration initiatives?
According to Penny, “The students at Fremont Elementary are losing their fear of failure through their experiences during Innovation Station days.” The Innovation Station activities and projects are designed to allow students to make mistakes, learn from them, and grow from their experiences. Penny is hopeful that this “growth” mindset can be carried into their other educational experiences, as well.
Beyond encouraging students to embrace failure and learn from it, Penny is also involving them in problem-solving activities that increase their engagement and collaboration with one another. She finds that students who do not always excel in traditional learning environments are finding a new kind of success during Innovation Station time. Along with the shift in mindset, students are also gaining experience with computational thinking. This is achieved when students interact with tools such as Dash and Dot robots to solve multi-step problems using computer programming skills. By being introduced to computer programming and learning to try, fail, and learn from their mistakes, Penny’s students are being set up for greater success in middle school, high school, and beyond.
Is This You?
Are you the type of teacher who thinks about technology integration and new ways to enhance instruction, engage students, and make learning fun? Know someone who fits the profile? Recommend a "Featured Teacher" so we can recognize and celebrate great work in the area of instructional technology!