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 Experiencing the art and science of teaching through creative innovation


The Center for Innovation in Education is re-envisioning teacher education that supports digital learning, STEAM, and Proficiency Based Learning in an adaptive environment that reflects a contemporary instructional approach.

In the fall of 2015, Thomas College finished construction of the Center for Innovation in Education, a state-of-the-art classroom and co-working space designed to give students the ideal environment to learn and practice the skills required of tomorrow’s educators.

Backed by an investment from the Lunder Foundation, the Center for Innovation in Education will add programs, technology, and training methods with the specific goal of preparing teachers for technology-rich approaches.

Read Center Director Ted Prawat’s article in The New England Journal of Higher Education

Big Ideas at the Center for Innovation in Education at Thomas College

 

Re-envisioning Teacher Education

Through the Center for Innovation in Education, Thomas College will help future teachers embed the following practices in their classrooms:

Proficiency-Based Learning
By 2018, all Maine high schools must deliver a proficiency-based diploma. As a member of the Maine Cohort for Customized Learning, Thomas College is taking advanced measures to prepare its students for this new model of learning, which includes investing in tools and faculty to position future teachers for success.

STEAM Education
In order to train teachers to be well-rounded and flexible, Thomas’ transition from STEAM embeds arts education and critical thinking into its curriculum in order to improve the national push towards Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education. Included in the STEAM curriculum are courses that emphasize creativity, problem solving, and critical thinking. Currently, no other college in Maine offers a STEAM-based model.

Digital Learning
Through the Center for Innovation and Education, Thomas plans to close the gap between the possibilities of technology-driven education and the practical application of those methods in the classroom. Thomas will also lead a push to bring national subject matter experts and thought leaders to central Maine, where they can provide training and professional development to both future and practicing teachers.

By combining current technology, cutting-edge teacher practices, and dynamic classroom environments, the Center will be an agile and flexible leader in education.

In a knowledge-based, technology-driven economy, graduates who study at the Center for Innovation in Education will stand out as they enter the workforce.


Save the Dates!

June 19, 2017

Thomas College Future Teachers Academy

An opportunity for high school juniors to experience what a teaching environment within a STEAM-based curriculum will be like. Learn more.

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Full STEAM Ahead – June 29-30, 2016 — Great Success!

Save next year’s dates: June 27-29, 2017

This past June, 65 Maine educators representing 17 school districts came together at the Center for Innovation in Education at Thomas College to explore STEAM curriculum, digital learning, and proficiency-based learning.

 

Kate Cook Whitt's Interactive keynote: STEAM--Authentic, Integrated, & Rigorous

Kate Cook Whitt’s Interactive keynote: STEAM–Authentic, Integrated, & Rigorous

Dr. Monte Selby (Education’s song writer), Dr. Kate Cook Whitt and Dr. Richard Biffle from Thomas College, Brett Pierce of Meridian Stories, and Mary McCarthy and Evan Chase from the Middle School of the Kennebunks shared a variety of ways to develop STEAM units that engage and challenge students.

Monte leads participants through an exercise that demonstrates the power of music in learning.

Monte leads participants through an exercise that demonstrates the power of music in learning.

Participants delved more deeply into proficiency-based learning with the help of Dr. Wally Alexander and Dr. Pamela Thompson from Thomas College, Susan Muzzy from Cornville Regional Charter School, Ami Amero from Forest Hills School, and Lindsay Mahoney from Messalonskee Middle School.

Lisa, Katie, and Barbara demonstrating an app for learning.

Lisa, Katie, and Barbara demonstrating an app for learning.

Emphasizing the learning in the phrase “digital learning” was a goal of Full STEAM Ahead. Dr. Katie Rybakova from Thomas College, Lisa Hogan from Freeport High School, and Barbara Greenstone from the Boothbay Region schools led the exploration of the creative process within the digital world.

Deep conversations delving into curriculum and instruction abounded at Full STEAM Ahead.

Deep conversations delving into curriculum and instruction abounded at Full STEAM Ahead.

Each team used their new learning to develop a project to implement back at school. Ranging from researching the human impact on the area around their school to bridge building in their community to protect local flora and fauna to expanding traditional units to be more authentic, integrative, and rigorous, these projects will bring new facets to learning for the different teams’ students.

Each team had the assistance of a coach as they planned their units.

Each team had the assistance of a coach as they planned their units.

Participants appreciated the team time provided to explore new ideas and begin planning for the upcoming school year. The ideas presented invigorated and inspired attendees to stretch their thinking in ways that will impact their teaching.

Our 2016 participating teams and their projects:

  • AOS 94: Bridge project—Topics to be investigated include human impact on environment, impact of ATVs on food chains, land use vs. private property, and connections to an already existing salmon unit.
  • Bloomfield Elementary School: Ways to incorporate what they learned with their Connect, Create, Move unit.
  • Bonny Eagle Middle School: Use 3-D technology to design a protective covering for laptops.
  • Lyman Moore Middle School: Embracing the varied cultures represented in their school through STEAM and the Arts.
  • Mabel Wilson Elementary: Expand their Garbage to Garden initiative.
  • Manchester Elementary School: Math interventionist/5th grade teachers will pilot a unit for earth and space science unit
  • Mount Merici Academy: They are turning STEAM into STREAM. The R stands for religion. They worked on three different projects:
    • 4th grade—water conservation
    • 3rd. grade—weather patterns and land forms related to Little House on the Prairie
    • Middle school— How are people with disabilities treated in our society; students will write an anti-bullying policy for the school.
  • Nokomis High School: They will use STEAM best practices & thinking to create and improve students’ transition from middle to high school.
  • SAD 4 (upper elementary): This group and their students will be exploring the human impact on the environment especially as it relates to the area around their school.
  • George Middle Grades: Their focus will be flight (How is flight possible. How has flight changed our world?  How will flight continue to evolve?)
  • Songo Locks Elementary:
    • “STREAM”–STEAM plus reading
      • S: States of Matter (science)
      • T: Flipped classroom (technology)
      • R: Swiss Family Robinson (reading)
      • E: Build a boat (engineering)
      • A: Boat design (art)
      • M: Measurement and data (math)
  • Warsaw Middle School: May the force be with you—integrating force and motion with art and music
  • Winslow Middle School: They will explore a highly charged emotional issue in their community—closing of their school. The project may extend over three years and include exploration of population changes, energy costs, architectural design, and creating tiles depicting old school for inclusion in the new school.
  • Windsor: They plan to incorporate more authentic writing, transferring knowledge between content areas, formulating ideas for cross-curricular projects.
  • Winthrop: Add Authentic-Integrated-Rigorous (AIR) to their traditional projects. For example: Egg drop turned into helmet design project to protect athletes from concussions
Attendees learn about fabulous central Maine resources such as the education program at the Colby Art Museum and the Thomas Cup competition.

Attendees learn about fabulous central Maine resources such as the education program at the Colby Art Museum and the Thomas Cup competition.

“Awesome time—Thank You!” sums up the Full STEAM Ahead experience.  Mark your calendars for June 27-29, 2017 so you can share in next year’s experience. Watch this page for information and registration links.

Monte Selby on guitar and Pamela Thompson on keyboard lead the participants in sing-along that reminds us of the importance of comfort, fairness, freedom, respect and the need for a peaceful place to live.

Monte Selby on guitar and Pamela Thompson on keyboard lead the participants in sing-along that reminds us of the importance of comfort, fairness, freedom, respect and the need for a peaceful place to live.

 

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