Middle School Technology Education
Soule Road Middle School
Liverpool Central School District
Matthew Starke has worked in the Liverpool Central School District for eight years. In his time there, he has created a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) program that includes engineering, electronics, robotics, production and advanced computer skills.
How has Matthew brought innovation into his classroom?
One example of Matthew’s technology integration efforts can be found in the “3D Printing Design Challenge,” an activity rich in rigorous STEM content and accessible to all students. To introduce the project, students must first select a problem, and then design a product that solves it. The problems may address topics such as global warming, task students with engineering a new product for manufacturing, or have them inventing a new product to aid with emerging technologies. Employing a wide range of STEM content areas not only gives students the ability to choose a design challenge in their area of interest, but also inspires them to be even more invested in creating a solution.
To ensure that he’s reaching every student in the classroom, Matthew incorporates lessons that utilize a variety of different educational media. Students can quickly access information online through the district’s 1:1 technology initiative, which provides them with direct access to a Google Chromebook throughout the school day. Initiatives such as these are powerful because they allow teachers to further advance their students’ knowledge more quickly than ever before, and enable the educators to use different pedagogical techniques to meet student needs. Some lessons are delivered in a typical lecture format, while others can be delivered electronically through “How To” videos demonstrating different software.
“Providing content in a variety of formats enables me to work with students of a wide range of ability and skill levels, because the content can naturally be modified to their pace,” says Matthew.
The Liverpool Central School District is a Google Apps For Education (GAFE) partner. Matthew frequently integrates Google Tools into his Project Based Learning (PBL) classroom environment, in an effort to use technology throughout the problem-solving design process.
“In the Engineering Unit of our Eighth Grade Technology Education course, students are asked to design and build a wood tower to withstand as strong of a simulated earthquake as possible,” says Matthew. “To simulate real world technical drawing, students are asked to design their tower structure on Google Drawing before they start construction. Using these tools gives me the opportunity to allow more hands-on experiences for my students in the classroom.”
How have students benefited from Matthew's technology integration initiatives?
Matthew thinks that technology and engineering education provides learning experiences necessary for students to become engineers, technicians, and trade workers.
“A pragmatic approach to learning must be implemented if we are to help students learn the kind of thinking and skills that will enable them to be successful after high school,” says Matthew. “Hands-on, experienced-based learning is the key to providing the foundation for workers in technology-related fields.”
Liverpool’s STEM program allows students to develop skills and investigate opportunities in a technology career path. When students enter Matthew’s classroom, they're given a hand-on educational opportunity, one which encourages them to tap into their creativity and expand their ideas.
“The technology integration initiatives put into place in Technology and Engineering Education at Soule Road Middle School allow our students to thrive,” according to Matthew. “Students have access to so much technology, and our classes give them the opportunity utilize their devices in meaningful ways that allow real-world application. Students are also able to proceed at their own pace in this environment, giving them the opportunity to work fast if learning comes easy, or to take their time if that’s what they need for development.”
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!