Global STEAM Collaboration Viewed through a Catholic Lens
Helping students develop a global mindset is a top priority for many schools, and today’s wired classroom environment is creating new and exciting opportunities to do so.
Future-ready Catholic school leader Abby Giroux at All Saints Academy in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is fostering global connections between her students and peers from around the world by partnering with Level Up Village. She recently taught LUV’s Global Web Designers, which combines environmental science with website development and culminates with each student building a website together with a partner student in another country.
“LUV fits the bill for the skills kids will need to be successful in, say, 2025,” said Abby, who is both the Middle School Principal and a science teacher at All Saints Academy. “The tech and global connection integrated with science hooked me. Global Web Designers has provided me a platform to teach the science I have to teach in a well-rounded, relevant, applicable, cross-curricular, whole-person way.”
Abby explained that this course met two curricular objectives: the renewable energy and human impact standards in science, plus the tech, digital citizenship and ISTE standards targeted by both her diocese and at her school. The added benefit of one-on-one global collaboration with peers in other countries was also a big draw.
“The deciding factor for me was the global exchange. I traveled to Tanzania to work in an orphanage four summers ago and my life changed forever. I can’t take my students on a trip like that, but I so value that experience and want to help them gain as many global perspectives and experiences as possible,” said Abby. “The 8th grade’s work with Level Up Village has offered a small change to expand the belief that ‘We Are One’ beyond our walls and even beyond our borders. I believe that everything we do in Catholic schools should be viewed through the lens of Catholic Social Teaching and LUV offers a great way to teach science through that lens.”
By teaching the course herself, Abby was able to observe firsthand how students’ were responding to both the website development curriculum and the global collaboration.
“I found it interesting to watch the students who are thriving problem solve, and watch students who are ‘book smart’ be challenged for the first time,” said Abby. “Last week I watched my newest, shyest student student that has been one of the slowest getting on board with this process confidently show one of the most vocal students in class how to fix a problem he was having with his Weebly with a few clicks on her own computer!”
— Abby Giroux (@AbbyGiroux) March 4, 2017
“My students absolutely loved when they discovered a new video from their partner,” added Abby, “I was so excited to talk with them about their initial observations listen to students that look and sound very different from themselves.”
In the course, students explored alternative energy sources, while acquiring valuable new tech skills.
“I researched nuclear energy and one thing I found interesting is that nuclear energy provides 20% of the U.S electricity,” said Rachel M. “I now know how to build a website and I know some things about coding. That is good because someday when I am working I will know how to make a website for our company.”
Ryan K. also researched nuclear energy and was interested that “it is actually a non-polluted energy source.” His partner was from Egypt and he was impressed by her English skills. “It was kind of cool how fast she could speak in this way in a different language,” he said.
Abby N., whose partner was from India, was pleased to discover she and her partner both enjoy reading Harry Potter books. “Communicating with someone who lives across the world was really fun because I got to learn about how much we have in common despite the distance,” she said.
Gabriel G. shared several observations about his partner in Egypt: “They had surprisingly good technology. It was really interesting communicating with them, watching them interact and use a different language.”
As an extension of the project, the 8th web designers will present what they learned from this experience to fourth graders who are also exploring renewable energy sources in their classroom – another great example of how All Saints Academy puts into practice its belief that “We are One.”