Many would say that a 2A school cannot provide quality educational experiences like that of larger schools. That statement would not apply to Fayetteville School. We may be small in enrollment, but we are plentiful in resources and opportunities that reap high student achievement.
In 2019-2020, enrollment at Fayetteville School was approximately 664 students in kindergarten through grade twelve. The school population consists of 95% Caucasian and 5% African American and is reflective of the community's racial makeup. The majority of the students come from middle class families which have some college education. Forty-three percent of the school population is economically disadvantaged as determined by the number of free and reduced lunches served at school. As a result of this data, Fayetteville is a Title I school which receives and utilizes funds for academic improvement.
Fayetteville School is located in southwest Talladega County approximately 10 miles from the cities of Sylacauga and Childersburg. Many of the residents of Fayetteville work in businesses and industries located in Sylacauga or Childersburg. Parents are employed in various fields including nursing, food services, production/assembly work, law enforcement, and education. The largest business located in the Fayetteville community is Farm Links. In 2013, Fayetteville School was named a National Green Ribbon School by the US Department of Education. In 2015, Fayetteville School was named a Leader in Me School by the Franklin Covey corporation.
Provide a general description of the learning experiences in which the STEM students were most successful. Additionally, generally describe the learning experiences that need improvement for greater student success.
At Fayetteville school, technology has been fully integrated with traditional teaching styles across all age groups and subjects. This has been achieved by a one-to-one technology initiative in which every student in the school is provided with a Chromebook to use in a variety of applications to enhance their learning experience. With versatile equipment, teachers can utilize their resources to provide students with unique learning experiences that cultivate critical thinking and communication skills across all age groups. Middle school students create Flipgrids to share ideas they have synthesized from class research and then use that platform to discuss among themselves. While approaches such as this one may be easily applicable in more conventional classroom environments, older students can contribute to social issues and grow into true global citizens. For example, before prom last year, one class filmed and broadcast a public service announcement explaining the dangers associated with a variety of risk behaviors. Of course, our school would not be complete without including the little ones! Even kindergarten students create their own videos to upload to Seesaw, a digital portfolio platform that can be viewed by their parents. By excitedly explaining what they learned and interacting with teachers and parents, students are placed in an environment that instills a sense of curiosity and a love for learning from their first experiences at Fayetteville School. In the future, we look forward to continuing to integrate a variety of digital platforms with conventional learning strategies to drive innovation and cultivate curiosity.
Girls in STEAM
In the US, women represent 48% of the workforce. However, only 24% of these women are working in STEM careers. The lack of women within these careers can be attributed to several factors including social factors, lack of opportunities, and gender based stereotypes. Therefore, in order to #breakthebarrier for Girls in STEAM, girls must be provided with opportunities to explore STEAM in real world context and to foster their curiosity through hands on learning. This ideology represents the foundational values and overall purpose of our Girls in STEAM initiative. Within this initiative, girls in grades 7 and 8 come together to explore the concept of Girls in STEAM in order to create a positive representation of the importance and impact of girls in STEAM that was shared with the community.
During the 2017-2018 school year, the Girls in STEAM Initiative partnered with the Comer Museum and Art Center to focus on the A in STEAM: Art. The STEAM challenge that was posed centered around the utilization of STEAM in order to make art more engaging. In order to rise to this challenge, female students not only participated in a variety of art lessons but also explored engineering and computer programming through the use of Hummingbird Robotics kits. Students then combined these elements as they created original works of art that were brought to life through the use of lights, sounds, and movements. Videos of the artwork coming to life were recorded and were “aurasmatized” so that when the artwork was scanned with the Aurasma app, the videos became active. This allowed the artwork to be donated to the Comer Museum and Arts Center, where visitors were able to use the app in order to see the art come to life.
During the 2018-2019 school year, the Girls in STEAM Initiative focused on utilizing CAD and 3D printing in order to engage the community in learning more about Girls in STEAM. The first step in the process was for the girls to meet and explore STEAM careers and degrees that are currently available. Based on these explorations, the girls worked collaboratively to identify words and phrases that symbolized women in STEAM. These words and phrases were then used to inspire the creation of visual representations focused on Girls in STEAM. In order to bring these visual representations to life, the Girls in STEAM Design Team used TinkerCAD to create 3D models. Once the designs were complete, the Girls in STEAM icons were 3D printed and were spread throughout the community as part of a Geocaching Challenge aimed at educating others about Girls in STEAM. https://sites.google.com/tcboe.org/tcboe-girls-in-steam/home
During the 2018-2019 school year, the Girls in STEAM Initiative focused on making an interactive display to educate others about STEM careers using Scratch and circuitry. The students created a Scratch project that educated others about a STEM career. Scratch enabled the girls to collaborate to create projects that expressed their ideas. After completing their products, the girls participated in a Gallery Walk to share and learn from one another. One of the great things about this year's event was that the project was led by previous girls who have participated and wanted to come back to lead this experience for the younger girls.
Fayetteville School’s McSTEAM is designed to host each student daily from grades kindergarten through twelfth. Students visit McSTEAM at their convenience to check out books throughout the day. It does not matter how many times the student visits because McSTEAM promotes a Flexible Open Door Policy, giving students access to the STEAM Lab as well. Students in grades kindergarten through fifth also visit two days in a row monthly for a STEAM designed lesson. This ensures that students have the appropriate amount of time to learn and create each month. During this time, teachers work with the STEAM teacher/Media Specialist and Digital Learning Specialist for student designed products as well as professional development to promote classroom learning. Grades 6 - 12, have access the rest of the time.
The Fayetteville McSTEAM program was created in 2017 by Media Specialist; Jaye Machen, Digital Learning Specialist; Stephanie Brooks and Principal Amy Smith. It was the first program of its kind in the county, creating a model for others to follow. McSTEAM took on the role of Media Center and STEAM Lab. The vision for the Media Center and STEAM Lab is to join forces to enhance student learning and promote student growth. The main goal of McSTEAM is to promote literacy and technology and to break barriers beyond the school norm. While students grade K - 12 visit McSTEAM, they are encouraged to become active readers and develop a love for reading. They learn that it takes all genres of books to complete the learning circle. They also foster a culture where reading can take the reader on a journey. This helps connect the gap with McSTEAM by being an environment for students to create and dream of endless possibilities to promote growth and make our world a better place to reside. While students are in the McSTEAM atmosphere, they learn that collaboration is an important role of society. Students learn to build knowledge and connect that knowledge with others to make a better product. McSTEAM teaches the Engineering Design Process to students, so there is a solid guideline for students to follow across the board. In McSTEAM, students learn to become leaders and not followers. They learn that each role is a vital part of the project. Students learn that making mistakes is also an important part of the learning process. They continue to learn that sometimes things do not go wrong until the final product. That is why correcting the final product and sharing it with others is so important.
Project Based Learning
The journey of Project Based Learning (PBL) began in the Fall of 2009 at Fayetteville School, the integration of PBL has made a powerful impact on student learning. Moving from traditional teaching and learning to PBL has been a powerful transition for both teachers and students. During the various projects taking place at Fayetteville School, you will observe students actively exploring real-world problems and challenges. During activities, students will utilize critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication and computational skills along with the authentic use of technology. If you walk the halls of Fayetteville School, you will witness elementary, middle and high school students involved in learning that integrates knowing and doing and involves learner reflection along with voice and choice. During the 2018-2019 school year, Fayetteville School competed in the Technology Showcase for all Talladega County Schools. Fayetteville School was the overall winner with a middle school presentation of their project on The Revitalization of Birmingham, Alabama. Fifth grade students placed 2nd in Technology for their PBL presentation on Famous Americans in History.
At Fayetteville School, we believe that this inquiry-based method of learning is preparing the next generation for the future. This innovative method of teaching and learning clearly makes us #leadersofthepack.
AMSTI - Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative
The summer of 2014 teachers at Fayetteville School participated in Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative (AMSTI), the Alabama State Department of Education's (ALSDE) initiative to improve math and science education. Its mission is to provide all students in Grades K-12 with the knowledge and skills needed for success in the workforce and/or postsecondary studies (college and career ready). AMSTI Math Curriculum has been implemented in our Kindergarten to Fifth Grade classes for the last seven years. Teachers initially attended training for each math unit in the summer and received materials to implement the hands-on learning with their students. Annually, teachers attend job-embedded professional development once a quarter to continue to improve the instruction. Students are engaged in the hands-on learning which fosters growth, creative ways to find answers to math and science problems.
Fayetteville School created elementary clubs that empower students with the leadership and life skills they need to thrive in the 21st century. These clubs were created in 2014 and have become a tradition. The clubs are based on Sean Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and The Leader In Me. Club Day incorporates a quarterly student-led assembly to recognize leaders and student accomplishments. This year the clubs will have a STEAM theme and focus on how STEAM is utilized in everyday life. Club examples include Green Thumb, Technology, Math and Engineering, Puppy Howl, etc. Middle and high school students in Fayetteville School participate in Key, Beta, and Fellowship of Christian Athlete clubs. During the 2019-2020 school year students in middle and high school began work in the Robotics Club. Participating in clubs provides students with the opportunity to broaden and improve soft skills. This development will aide students in their future in how to work and network within a team.
2. Provide examples of how the STEM educators and facilitators implement and sustain the core tenets of an effective and age-appropriate STEM curriculum.
A teacher’s day does not end with the ringing of the final bell for the day. The school building is often alive with learning well past three o’clock. Professional development is the greatest method to strengthen teacher knowledge and advance the core tenets of an effective STEM curriculum. Professional development at Fayetteville School is not only designed for the novice teacher but includes the experienced teachers as well. The staff at Fayetteville School are determined to maintain a growth versus fixed mindset in their profession. We often utilize our teachers to attend professional development sessions outside our school then teach the same content to our staff. Teachers at Fayetteville School have participated and facilitated various professional development sessions to expand our STEAM curriculum. Such topics as project based learning, engineering design process, data, and strategic teaching have been covered with staff members so to increase student achievement. At Fayetteville School, we know that good teaching does not happen by accident, it is a profession that is a direct result of self-reflection and continued learning.
To promote educator usage of technological tools, Fayetteville School implemented a badge competition. At the beginning of the school year, we participated in a kick off for technology. Every teacher was made a member of a team for the year for technology competitions. Every nine weeks’ teachers earn badges after completing activities with technology tools such as Twitter for class, Google Drive, Blackboard, Seesaw, and Kahoot. Each teacher collected badges for their team and each team competed school wide for prizes. This was a fun and interactive way to increase the use of technology to enhance instruction.
Fayetteville School is fortunate to have an active Digital Learning Specialist to support teachers in modeling technology integration. Fayetteville Schools’ Digital Learning Specialist is instrumental in providing support through direct coaching and modeling of technology. She is also vital in keeping abreast of the newest technology so to provide high-quality professional development for teachers. During the summer of 2019, she attended ISTE to rethink the status quo and use technology to drive good practice. She was able to join educators from around the world at the most influential edtech event of the year. Conferences like this are key for driving professional development forward within our school and district. While attending ISTE, she was a speaker at a poster session on Digital Demo Slams and presenter in Google’s Playground where she demonstrated for others how to get 3 C’s with Google Drawings. Her participation in national events has given her great knowledge to share with teachers within Fayetteville School.
Instructional rounds are practices that are in place to improve instruction at Fayetteville School. Teachers and administrators within the school and school district visit classrooms in order to improve instruction. This process involves a predetermined problem and practice to focus the observations. During the 2018-19 school year, all instructional rounds were centered around the authentic application of technology. Classroom visits focused on the advanced levels of the SAMR model during instruction. Observers had the opportunity to provide descriptive and non-evaluative feedback to teachers on what students were doing and saying. This opportunity allows for the teacher and the observer to learn from constructive feedback that is focused on specific area of instruction. Participating in instructional rounds, receiving feedback, and forming next steps have enabled Fayetteville School to implement and sustain the core tenets of an effective and age-appropriate STEAM curriculum.