Sunday, August 27, 2017

Building a Culture of Computer Science & STEAM Learning

On August 26, 2017, representatives of the 4 divisions of Casady School met together with several staff for a Saturday retreat to reflect on ways to build a school culture supportive of computer science, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) learning, Maker Education and digital literacy. The eleven participants included Josh Bottomly, Eric Ebert, Jason Reich, Michaela Freeland, Sandy Craft, Glen Emerson, Aric Sappington, Shannon Semet, Heather Vick, Steve Gooch, and Wes Fryer. This was a BRAINSTORMING and team-building retreat which provided opportunities to share ideas and suggest strategies. The ideas shared here do NOT (at this point) represent new decisions, courses, or policies at our school. With the goal of "making the invisible more visible" and sharing our thinking for feedback with our own school constituents as well as the wider educational community, we're sharing some of the ideas which were discussed at our retreat in this post. If you have feedback, please share a comment here or get in touch with one of our retreat participants!

In the afternoon of our retreat, participants summarized and discussed key takeaways relating to computer science, STEM/STEAM education, and Maker Education and organized these ideas within five different categories. Participants then partnered up and summarized these five categories of ideas in a fifteen minute audio podcast, which is available both on YouTube and on our "Casady Voices" podcast channel.

These are the five categories of recommendations and ideas, shared both textually and as word clouds.

More Students Involved in Computer Science & STEM

  1. Design Thinking and Design Flow
  2. Follow Through (listen to and act on suggested student ideas from design thinking activities)
  3. Incentivize CS + X courses for students (offer multi-disciplinary credit: for graduation, with colleges, and free up time for CS courses)
  4. Make It Lab / MakerSpace Lab: Provide a place for creation
  5. Utilize / online programming curriculum
  6. Offer an "Engineering Design Innovation" Course
  7. Encourage personalized learning / DIY projects, like Raspberry Pi computer building

More Girls Involved in Computer Science & STEM

  1. Wearables
  2. Art and Design
  3. Minecraft and Programming
  4. Student Ignite Talks
  5. Animation
  6. Collaboration / Group Projects
  7. Role Models
  8. Help Make the World a Better Place
  9. Pets and People
  10. GUI (Graphical User Interface) Design and Coding for existing programs

Communicate and Amplify

  1. Student Ignite Talks
  2. Sharing Across Divisions
  3. Career Days
  4. Student's artifacts: podcasts, screencasts, digital portfolios, Seesaw

Growth and Learning

  1. Provide PLC (personal learning network) time during the week for faculty professional development
  2. Host a November "Google Camp OKC" Saturday Conference for Casady faculty and area educators
  3. Host a Mid-June "STEM Seeds" Camp / Professional Development Institute for Casady faculty and area educators
  4. Middle Division Students Share Ignite Talks with Lower and Upper Division Students
  5. Faculty STEM / STEAM Local Field Trips (OU Innovations Lab, Rose State Fab Lab, etc)
  6. Faculty and Staff Team Attendance at Conferences: Shift-In-EDU, Stanford Design School, Harvard Project Zero
  7. Faculty sharing Presentations (Ignite) about Summer Conferences / Professional Development

Whole School Computer Science Skills Scaffolding

  1. Computer Aided Design (CAD): Fusion360 (UD), TinkerCAD (MD), TinkerCAD and Robots (LD), Shapes and Position (PD)
  2. Graphic Design and Digital Media: iMovie, Adobe Dreamweaver (UD), Inkscape, Lucid Press, Google Sites, Wix and Weebly (MD), Animation, Podcasts, Google Docs, MS Office (LD), Printmaking (PD)
  3. Programming / Coding: Python, Java (UD), Javascript, Lua, Labview, Google Sheets (MD), Scratch,, Typing (LD), Cubetto, Algo Syntax (PD)
  4. Digital Citizenship: Wellness initiative (UD), speakers, incorporated into civics (MD), Seesaw, Passport, Speakers (LD)

In the morning session, we had an approximately one hour, interactive conversation with Eve Juarez, who is the chair of the Computer Science department at Ursuline Academy in Dallas. According to their website, Ursuline is:
an independent Catholic college preparatory school for young women in grades 9-12. Educating students for 143 years, the Academy is the oldest continuously operating school in Dallas.
This is a sketchnote and narrated sketchnote Wes Fryer created during and after the videoconference with Eve, summarizing some of his key takeaways.

This retreat provided good opportunities for members of our faculty and staff to network, connect, and vision together possibilities for computer science and STEM/STEAM learning at our school!

Technical notes:

  1. The audio podcast at the end of our retreat was recorded on an iPhone with the free app Opinion. (In-app purchase of $3 required for recordings longer than 10 minutes)
  2. The audio podcast was converted to a video using the free iOS app "Voice Record "Pro".
  3. WordClouds were created with the free iPad app Word Clouds by
  4. The sketchnote was created using ProCreate for iPad ($6) on an iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil.
  5. The narrated sketchnote was created using an exported video from ProCreate and iMovie for iPad.
  6. More information about creating radio shows / podcasts, sketchnotes, and narrated sketchnotes is available on


  1. So excited to see your work here! Feel free to contact us at Ursuline if you have any questions or want to collaborate.
    Rachel Clark and Danny Poellot
    Engineering Design Innovation teachers