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STEM Teaching and Elementary Tech Integration with Naomi Meredith

Episode 31

Maddie (00:23):
Hello everyone, and welcome back to another episode of the EdTech Classroom podcast! Today I’m chatting with Naomi Meredith. I’ve gotten to know Naomi through the online teacher community. She and I connected because we have a lot in common. She’S doing so much to help other STEM teachers online. She’S also a great Instagram follow, by the way. She shares lesson ideas. She also co-hosts the Innovative Teacher Podcast. She’S just doing all the things! For some context about her… Naomi Meredith is a former classroom teacher turned current K-5 STEM teacher. After being in the elementary classroom for 6 years and falling in love with technology and STEM with her own students, she wanted an extra challenge. Without any technical degree, she studied, trained, and read all about innovation. This helped her land a position teaching K-5 STEM. She teaches STEM in the specials rotation, while also having the opportunity to co-teach with teachers in her building. While currently working on her Master’s in STEM Leadership, she believes that anyone can teach STEM, no matter what their classroom setting is. Naomi, thank you so much for joining me on the show today!

Naomi Meredith (02:14):
Thank you so much, Maddie, for having me. I love talking with you and yeah, we chat on Instagram and then we did that Facebook live last summer. So I was super, super excited to be here with you.

Maddie (02:26):
Yeah. Thanks so much for joining me. We’re currently recording on our day off. It’s President’s Day, and I’m super appreciative that you’re chatting with me because I know how busy you are. You’re balancing teaching and coaching and building a podcast and so much more. So ,I’m just really looking forward to our conversation. I know I just went over your bio. I shared a little bit about you, but could you talk about your background and your path to becoming a STEM teacher?

Naomi Meredith (02:54):
Yeah, definitely. You did such a good job. Like I should have you just like follow me or lead the way when I come into a room, like Maddie introduced me. [laughs] So yeah, I was a former classroom teacher and I was in the classroom for six years. And during that time, I never really knew how to use technology with my students. We had some technology, but I just really didn’t know what to do with it. And so I took as many tree free trainings as I could courses. I would go to conferences if I could afford it and just find out what is out there and what other teachers are doing to implement STEM and technology. And really I’m the kind of person I, I am all for trying new things. So I would try all sorts of stuff with my kids third grade at the time and see what would work and how to engage them.

Naomi Meredith (03:44):
And so I found a lot of tips and tricks along the way, and I’m all, “this is amazing.” I really liked doing this with kids. A few more years, and I wanted a bigger challenge and I wanted to teach more kids. Crazy, I am. And so I got a position teaching K-5 STEM at a different neighboring district. And with that role, it’s very interesting because I do teach STEM three days a week as of now, but then the other two days, I co-teach with teachers in my buildings to help them implement STEM and technology, along with all of the tech management as well. So basic troubleshooting, I’m the person you can come to. So I have many hats in the school building but it’s just really cool to see kindergarten through fifth grade tackle challenges and just the progression of their learning. So it’s really awesome to connect with them over the years. And again, keep trying new things and implement those fun projects with them.

Maddie (04:43):
Awesome. I love hearing your passion for trying new things. I think that that’s something that I feel like I can really relate to. I love kind of like just trying something out and being a guinea pig, which it sounds like you feel similarly, you know, you kind of figured this all out yourself, right? Like you started looking for resources, attending conferences, if you could. What were some of your go-to resources that you might recommend for listeners who are interested in STEM?

Naomi Meredith (05:11):
My go-to was some of those tech resources, a lot of times have ambassador programs. So Seesaw has really great resources for teachers and they are all about education. So I would do their free trainings look at their YouTube programs. Some of those big ones as well, like code.org and Hour of Code has really great progressions and trainings as well. I also did the Google certification training. So you learn a lot through studying their free resources. There’s so much free stuff out there, which is so amazing. So I would use those free resources and train for the certification. If you can afford it, ISTE is a big conference that just blew my mind. That sparked something in my soul that I just didn’t know is there, it’s like the movie Soul, like this is my passion. But ISTE is a really great conference and then they have resources online as well, but definitely check out local conferences too because they are often have scholarships for teachers and to help you connect with other teachers and what’s going on in your own state. Those are like my go-to places that I got started with and I still use.

Maddie (06:27):
That’s awesome. Those are definitely like… If you were to ask me that question… The exact same recommendations that I would probably give teachers as well. There is so much free content online. There’s so many great free trainings and stuff. So those are really great examples. And then I think a lot of teachers who attend ISTE have that sort of like fall in love with ISTE moment. So those are some really great recommendations. Thank you. We’ve been saying that you’re a current K-5 STEM teacher You create lesson ideas for teachers online for STEM teachers specifically. Could you walk us through the process of actually creating a STEM project for your classroom? So the creation process, implementing it, and then sharing it with other teachers as well.

Naomi Meredith (07:14):
I love lesson planning and I love thinking of ideas. And so I have a little notebook that I will just brainstorm ideas that relate to the standards. So I will go through the standards and just write down ideas and I don’t always teach them, like I just brainstorm, brainstorm, brainstorm. And then I go from there and create. Typically we’ll use the engineering design process with most of our projects in my classroom. I would say Hour of Code is a little bit different, but for the most part, we’ll use the engineering design process. And so with time since I only have them for three days, I will think of a question that I want them to solve using the process throughout that little bit of time. So we have our question that we’re going to solve, and then we do a little bit of background knowledge building.

Naomi Meredith (08:01):
So I’ll find videos online or some cool articles that go along with the topic. I’ll even share student examples from the past, if I have them and if it’s not completely brand new, and then we’ll go from there. Then students will plan their design either through drawing on paper or even planning on a digital platform, depending on the students in their project. And then their favorite part is building and creating. So they get obsessed about that. So that part, isn’t the hard part. They’re always excited about the building and creating, and then I give them time. I really encourage them to experiment and improve on their designs and testing it out to see if it will work. Like we’ve had a sled design where the kids had to keep all 10 animals on the sled. It goes with the story “10 on the sled.” And the kids actually had a little hill that we would run our sleds down, and their giggles were so cute.

Naomi Meredith (08:52):
Like they were thrilled, like this is amazing. And I just taped cardboard from the table to the floor, and they thought it was the best thing ever, testing their design and really improving. It is such a really important step of that process because often when you start these types of STEM projects, kids are like, “I’m done, I’m done, I’m done. I don’t need to improve it.” Well, everything can get better. And so really if you have that time, make sure that students are making, improving things, give them some ideas. And then we’ll reflect, we’ll take a video and picture of their work and also reflect either through writing or recording their voice. So that’s the typical format of most of our – I would say 90% of the – projects I do in my classroom and the kids get used to that process, which is great. Like a lot like the writing process. If you’re a classroom teacher, having a process where you’re solving and creating really helps guide students with that, breaking down big things, then making it into manageable tasks.

Maddie (09:52):
You’re speaking music to my ears since I’m a STEM teacher as well. I love hearing about this playful learning that’s happening in your classroom. A lot of our listeners aren’t STEM teachers. So could you talk about what the engineering design process actually is, just in case people aren’t familiar with it?

Naomi Meredith (10:08):
Definitely. So engineering design process is in the newer Next Generation Science Standards. So classroom teachers will eventually, depending on your state, have to teach them, but the engineering design process is a way that engineers attack and solve a problem. So they go through that planning phase, they iterate ideas and then they create, it’s all those steps that I mentioned, but how they can attack and solve a problem and create a solution to it. So different than the scientific method, which there’s nothing wrong with the scientific method. There’s a purpose for that. That’s more like testing scientific principles. This is more attacking and solving a problem. So there is a purpose for both and both are much needed in our world today because some things you have to test through science, sometimes you have to test through building, creating, and trying new things. So definitely, definitely can be done in the classroom. I would say everything that I do I can do in a regular classroom. And I do, I’ll also try these things with co-teaching. So if you’re like, “Oh yeah, she does teach us. You guys can totally do it, I believe in you.

Maddie (11:16):
So I also liked the example that you gave… You kind of gave a hint into a project that you’ve actually done with your students of this “10 on a sled,” right? Is that the name of the book?

Naomi Meredith (11:29):
It’s a cute little rhyming book.

Maddie (11:31):
I liked that you mentioned a specific project example. What do you believe are some of the key ingredients of a high quality project?

Naomi Meredith (11:42):
So definitely, of course, start with those standards and make sure that you are doing something that is relevant to your grade level, because that will help you guide a project will make sense and connect with all of your content, and also maximizing your time because I know teachers, we just don’t always have the time. You want to make sure that it can be integrated and overlap in other subject areas. So definitely look to that. I always tell teachers, if you’re really struggling, getting started, look to your literacy lessons and what are some of your favorite books? Because a lot of books can be used as a STEM challenge. So I talked about the 10 on the sled. Some other ones, the kids really love doing this when it’s after the fall with Humpty Dumpty. And so then they create a safe way to keep Humpty Dumpty on the wall.

Naomi Meredith (12:31):
And so really connecting literacy that way. And it doesn’t always have to be fiction books, non-fiction books and articles can be connected as well. So that’s a great way to get started. And then you could then integrate that science piece like, okay, our STEM project is based on this fiction story. And then in science, we’re going to learn about the science of eggs. So you could connect it all together, almost like a paired selection where you have the fiction and nonfiction. But definitely just make sure it’s relevant and connects to your standards. And I know that it can get overwhelming. You want to try all the robots and just randomly throw things in, but the more integrated you can make it, the higher quality it’s going to be and help students make those connections and maximize your time.

Maddie (13:16):
Yeah. That’s a really great recommendation. I think tying literature into STEM challenges is also just a lot of fun for students too. This is my second year at my current school. And before I got there, they used to have “librology” where it was library and technology combined. So all of the tech lessons were actually related to books. So that’s neat to hear that that’s something that you’re trying out in your classroom. And even though “librology” doesn’t exist at my school anymore, that’s definitely something that I’ve tried to incorporate in my classroom. I think it’s just a really great way to – I’m sure you’ve found – read alouds are just such a great way to hook kids in the beginning of class, too. Especially if you have them at a particular time of day or they’re a little bit wiggly. It can be a nice way to center our students to start off class.

Naomi Meredith (14:05):
Oh, totally. I love books. I’m such a nerd in general. Wke when I left the regular classroom, I had a hard time getting rid of my books. I had the best classroom library. It was stocked with like all types of books. So they’re like my favorites I can’t part with, which have been used in my classroom. So it was just still really great. I love integrating literacy and STEM.

Maddie (14:34):
Yeah. I’ve actually been working kind of closely with our librarian recently because of our specials rotation… Without getting into too much detail about my school has gotten a little jumbled and stuff… So we’ve been doing a lot more joint read alouds and coding activities, for example. So that’s been a nice way to sort of bring back that “librology” that was at the school before I got there.

Naomi Meredith (15:01):
That’s so cool. That’s what a great way to collaborate. That’s awesome.

Maddie (15:06):
Yeah. It’s really neat. And that reminds me, I think it’s really cool that you work really closely with other teachers in your building. I think that that’s something that I can relate to again, because it’s a huge part of my role as an ed tech coach at my school. But I think that, and maybe you agree with this, but I think that technology and education really works best when it’s implemented with support and then when it’s implemented into the classroom, rather than siloed as a separate subject. So I know that we both obviously teach tech as a subject, but we also do a lot of work in integrating tech in the classroom. So what would you say effective tech integration looks like in an elementary school classroom?

Naomi Meredith (15:49):
I’ve seen lots of ineffective ways for sure, but I think the effective ways are when the students have opportunities to be creators with technology and not consumers. So of course, and I even posted today on my Instagram, you could start with substitution. So sometimes you just need to substitute a piece of paper with technology and that’s totally fine, but that shouldn’t be the only way that you’re using technology. So once you give that power to the students where they’re using technology in meaningful ways, because thinking about what how we use technology as adults, we use it as a creation tool. Of course we watch Netflix, of course, like, come on. But we use it as a way to create and communicate our ideas. And so we want to give students those opportunities to do the same thing with their learning, and they’re going to be slow.

Naomi Meredith (16:40):
Trust me, my kids in third grade were the slowest little typers at the beginning. And they’re like, “this is hard.” I’m like, I know you’re good. Keep going. It’s okay. And they learned to get faster because they had to get it done. And so they will get faster. It will become more natural. It’s hard. Like you want to do it for them. Like you want to fix all the problems, but even help, letting them problem solve through it or tell them how to do it. But be the YouTube tutorial, I tell the kids that too, like, “Hey, if you’re helping each other, that’s fine. You just can’t touch their computer ’cause you’re the YouTube tutorial. And so you have to walk them through the process because if they, if you do it for them, they’re not going to remember.” So definitely give them those opportunities to create. And it really is so much more beneficial in the long run. And I see that in the classrooms, I can tell when classrooms are given those opportunities and when they’re not, because of their comfortability of creation is just night and day. So it’s really beneficial for the kids and for you.

Maddie (17:40):
Yeah, definitely. I completely agree. I love the idea of technology being used for content creation and as a creative tool, like you’re saying. I think that that’s definitely the most powerful way that you can integrate tech in the classroom. Could you talk about an example of a project that you’ve done, like a co-teaching project where you’ve sort of like pushed into the classroom? The classroom teacher’s classroom, not your classroom.

Naomi Meredith (18:08):
Yeah. So this is one we did this past couple of weeks. I co-planned with a second grade team and they actually had a social studies standard that is about mapping skills. So it talked about how do I identify different features on a map that are cultural, political, human, and natural? So the keyword is “identify.” So yeah, sure. You could have the kids look in a book and find those things and be done with it, but we don’t really do that in the real world. Like how often do you look at a map in a book? Like, not very often, I guess if my wifi goes out, I don’t know. I take a screen shot anyway. So we took that standard and made a graphic organizer that had those five components and then did a Google Earth tour that went to like big, major places around the world where they have those different elements, but they would definitely differ greatly just based on how people live.

Naomi Meredith (19:05):
So you can, it’s cool in Google Earth, I didn’t know this, I’m sure other people know this, but it had been awhile for me. But you can pin specific places and send the link to all 10 places you want them to go to. So they don’t have to waste time typing all those hard words. So I didn’t know that. I felt, I felt pretty amazed. I was like, “Oh, that’s pretty cool.” So they traveled at different places. Like we went to Washington, DC, Rio de Janeiro, and then they had to collaborate together and discuss all of those different elements. Like if the buildings are close together, how would that affect how people would live? Well, people probably walk to a lot of places because they’re very close to the city, or if they’re more spread out with neighborhoods, they probably have to drive. So it was just really cool way to spark more communication, even getting deeper into the standard than what was asked. But they could type on that graphic organizer, and then toggle between multiple tabs, which is also a really good tool for kids to learn. So they were super engaged. They were working on mapping skills, but just in a more relevant and real-world type of application.

Maddie (20:16):
Definitely. I think you were kind of hinting at this, but I think what’s the most exciting to me about this example is that it really highlights how technology can be used in a way that’s really authentic for students. I’m always kind of thinking about and talking about authenticity in PBL, because I think, I don’t know if this is something that you feel like teachers experience, but something that I feel like I’ve noticed is that authenticity can be kind of the most difficult thing to achieve when thinking about all of the core pillars of PBL. And I think that this is a really great example of how you can bring authenticity into the classroom using technology. So thanks for bringing up that suggestion. I think Google Earth is a really great tool. So for listeners who maybe haven’t ever checked it out before, I’d highly recommend you check it out, try it out with your students. It can be a really powerful tool for sure.

Naomi Meredith (21:07):
Oh, totally. Like you just, I mean, there is a purpose for things to be so simple, but like you said, like that authenticity, like you want kids to connect it to their real world. Like that just makes sense. Like we’re thinking of the world in new ways. And they’re more engaged to be honest, if it’s more relevant and real, they see the purpose and the meaning behind it, instead of let’s look at a textbook and look at maps. They don’t understand why, why are we doing this, this isn’t going to help me. And I kind of understand, like, that is kind of boring. So let’s just beef it up a bit, get to the same standard, but in a different way,

Maddie (21:44):
For sure. And I love to hear that you’re listening to what your students are interested in too. You recognize that students really care about real-world application. And so I think what you just said is also a really great example of you actually listening to what your students want and need in the classroom as well. Are there other edtech tools that you think are really awesome for bringing authenticity into the classroom that you can think of?

Naomi Meredith (22:12):
Yes, there are, well, three for sure that are like my go-tos. You can use them in any subject I’m obsessed about all three. So they’re all important in different ways. (1) I love Seesaw. And I mentioned that a little bit before. Seesaw has come a long way since I first started. And I love how it’s always been made for classrooms and for teachers. And so Seesaw can be used on any device. It allows students to really take ownership of their learning. They can take a picture of their work, a video, they can write it down, they can add links. But there’s also that teacher and parent communication as well, which a lot of tools don’t always do really great at. Soparents can comment and see their child’s work in realtime. Once the teacher approves it, the teacher can comment and give feedback and kids actually can comment on each other’s.

Naomi Meredith (23:06):
And so I love this tool for K- 5. I don’t think it’s babyish for older elementary. It’s such an asset to have in the classroom. And there’s also an activity library where you can pull and find project ideas and assignments that you can use with your kids from other teachers who use Seesaw. So it’s just become more collaborative. And, Oh my gosh, I love it. And I’m sure those of you who’ve used it during remote learning. We’re just so grateful. We were really grateful for Seesaw because it just really made, makes things so much easier. (2) I also equally love Google tools, specifically Google Slides. I think that there’s just so much potential in Google Slides and what you can create with students. I actually created a fairly new mini-course on how to create digital interactive assignments and Google slides. So I walk you through the five-step process that I use to create assignments for my kids almost daily and all of those tools.

Naomi Meredith (24:05):
So you can check that out on my website. We’ll talk about, I guess later on where to find all that, but I equally love Google Slides and Google tools with kids. (3) And then for that literacy piece, Epic! Books. Oh my gosh, best digital library out there free for teachers. There’s fiction, nonfiction books, audio books, read to me books, videos, not connected to YouTube. And I use that a ton for building background and connecting literacy. So all three, like that trifecta is like my ultimate tool belt. If I only could use three things, I would be so happy with those three things. They just make me happy.

Maddie (24:44):
That’s awesome. I love all three of those tools as well. I think first for Seesaw that was a tool that I was really pushing or strongly encouraging teachers at my school to try out before we went remote. And then when remote learning started happened in March, everybody kind of had to jump to start starting to use Seesaw. And I think that it’s a tool that’s become so popular and really widely loved by a lot of teachers that I hope it will continue to be used when we’re, you know, back a hundred percent in person in a non socially distanced classroom. I think what that tool and what Google slides specifically have in common is that they’re really simple and easy to use. Yet, they’re both really powerful tools and that they can do a lot, I think at least looking at Google slides specifically, and I’m sure that this is something that you help teachers work through in this course that I’m really excited to chat about in a little bit.

Maddie (25:40):
I’m sure that this is something that you talk about or encourage teachers to try. But I think Google Slides is kind of one of the most underrated tools. I know a lot of people are talking about it right now, but it has the potential to do so much stuff. I think a lot of people, when they think of Slides, they think of your typical presentation tool, but there is so many really great things that you can do with it. Like these interactive worksheets, right, is what you’re talking about. That example, I’ve seen some really cool examples of like escape rooms using Google Slides. I just think there’s endless opportunities there. So for teachers who are listening, who have tried Google slides, but haven’t used it to its fullest extent, I would highly recommend that you check that out as a tool and become really familiar with it.

Naomi Meredith (26:24):
Oh, for sure. And you did in the summer, I had never had seen this. You did that choose your own adventure in Google Slides. That was so cool how you used present mode and then just like had kids choose based on how they answered it. That was amazing. That was all in Google slides in one slide, I was like, this is amazing.

Maddie (26:48):
Yeah. I really love Google slides. I love linking things. Choose your own adventure slides too are really cool to try it with older students, for them to actually create their own. You can kind of give them a pre-made template where everything’s sort of linked for them, but they actually have to create the story narrative. That’s something that I’ve always really wanted to try with fifth grade students, for example, where they practice some of their storytelling skills and stuff. For listeners who are, have no idea what I’m talking about. I don’t know if I can link to the Facebook LIVE. I think we can find the link. Yeah. Maybe we can add that in the episode description for people to check out.

Maddie (27:31):
This is kind of like switching gears pretty majorly here, but something that I’ve been wrestling with a lot this school year, and I feel like a lot of teachers have is just that this school year has been really hard. It’s been hard for me teaching from a computer screen, not being in the classroom, but also there’s been this fear element for me too, as well about going back into the classroom and like what that means for my health, for my family. What would you say has been a really big challenge for you this school year specifically?

Naomi Meredith (28:07):
So this school year has been so odd because we were remote from March till the end of the last school year. So that the expectations for teaching remote are so much different than what they are now, now that we know a little bit more about it. And I have been in person for most of the school year, a hundred percent, but the times I’ve had to teach remote again is what types of things can work well and still be meaningful for kids when we’re online, as opposed to in-person. And even, I mean, especially as a STEM teacher, oh my goodness. Everything’s like hands on. And so, I mean, of course I love technology, but not everything is sitting on the computer. And so finding things that are meaningful and not a waste of time for kids and things that can translate well because the kids might not always have the same supplies.

Naomi Meredith (29:00):
They might not have the same support. For us, we have had different devices. So that’s been a challenge in itself. Like some kids have an iPad, some have a desktop, some have laptops. And so some tools might not work well on others. So just really balancing, creating meaningful assignments that are engaging and that students are actually using. And I’ve heard that also from classroom teachers in my building, just how to plan effectively where the kids are learning. I mean, it’s so different than like typical online school. I mean, online schools and actual thing, but I feel like this is so different, like remote teaching it’s just different. So and just knowing the skills of how to navigate all of the technology at once and being live like that’s so different. Like sometimes I’m all looking in the wrong camera or I like click the wrong button. I don’t unmute myself. Even those things have been a challenge for sure.

Maddie (30:02):
I completely agree. I think you touched on this, but I feel like so many teachers always say to me like, “Oh, you love technology. Like tech is so easy for you. Like this must be great.” And it’s like, we both signed up to be teachers in the classroom with students for a reason, you know? We didn’t sign up to be people teaching from a computer screen. So it’s nice, at least for me, honestly, to hear that you’re having a lot of the same feelings that I’ve been having this school year. I know so many teachers are kind of in the same boat. But it’s nice to hear that somebody like you, who’s an expert with tech, somebody who’s really comfortable with technology is still having some of the same difficulties.

Naomi Meredith (30:45):
Oh, for sure. And like, Oh man, I taught kindergarten remote last second. I had to think of something that was three days a month. Oh, those poor little babes. Like I hope I don’t bore them. I ended up doing on Friday at directed drawing and we talked about Lego mini-figs and how they’re made in a factory. I totally like made this up last second. And then I showed them how to draw a mini-fig because we read the book. I’m fun too. It’s about a Lego mini-fig. And so we worked on our drawing-to-plan skills and we had. I had a dad do the lesson with us and he was drawing his mini fig and like good job so-and-so’s dad. And he showed me his picture. It was so funny. Just keeping it positive too. Like you can’t be so hard on yourself. Like it’s not going to be the same, but at least have fun with it. Something like that too.

Maddie (31:41):
I love your positive attitude about it because I think for teachers it can be so easy to be like, “it needs to be as perfect as it is in the classroom.” And I like that you’re taking it like, you know, as it is. Yep. Naomi just did a little shrug.

Naomi Meredith (31:58):
I did. I did the shrug emoji.

Maddie (32:04):
You have a lot of really great advice that you’ve been sharing. You know, obviously you just shared some great advice about being positive during difficult times, but I also know you have a lot of really great advice for teachers who are looking to incorporate STEM in their classrooms. I know you’ve given some helpful tips during our conversation, but what other advice would you say that you have for teachers who (1) either have never used them before, but are looking to try it in their classroom or (2) teachers who have been teaching STEM, but kind of want to take it to the next level? What’s some advice that you might have for those teachers?

Naomi Meredith (32:37):
So if you’re getting started, definitely start small. I mean the ultimate goal I think is to have it integrated throughout your day, but that’s like, like the end goal. Definitely start small. Stations are a great way to get started. I know a lot of teachers do stations in their room for various subjects. So you could have a makerspace station and they build to solve a problem in the story. Or you have some inspiration for them around the topic that you’re learning or maybe you have a couple of robots that are checked out from your school library. Maybe you have a station that’s about robots. So starting small and you have a few students to work with. Maybe you’re man-ing that station is a great way to get started.

Naomi Meredith (33:28):
And then as you get more comfortable, maybe you do like half and half, maybe half the class is working on one thing related to the project and you’re working on the STEM project with the other half and then grow it bigger from there. So start small. It’s easy to get excited by all the shiny objects and try all of the things. Another way that we did… When I was a classroom teacher… This was pre COVID, so you’ll have to see what your school restrictions are is. We did buddies classes for STEM. So I was buddies with the kindergartner teachers because I secretly always wanted to be a kindergarten teacher. And so we were book buddies, but we actually ended up being more STEM and tech buddies. So my kids would teach their kids some things with technology. And we also would do shared STEM projects together.

Naomi Meredith (34:14):
So it was nice because the kids were supporting one another. So it wasn’t as crazy. And then there’s two, at least two, teachers in their room and we could support one another and plan together. So if you have a buddy teacher that you could do that with, and you guys are both interested, that was so powerful and meaningful and a better use of our time. I mean, reading books together was okay, but the kids got bored of that pretty quick. And so this was just more engaging and I look forward to it. For teachers who are already into it, see how you can integrate it make it like a whole big unit where all of the subjects connect together. And that could be really, really powerful for those who are comfortable, but just looking for that next step.

Maddie (34:55):
Really great advice. I love what you said for teachers who haven’t really tried STEM too much. I think it is so easy to get distracted by the shiny objects or to also get scared of STEM and like, “I don’t want to try that. It’s not for me.” Because I think there’s a lot of misconceptions that STEM is really expensive or that you have to have the latest, coolest tools in order to try it in your classroom. So I liked that you, that you mentioned that because I think you’re so right. It doesn’t need to be all the shiny things. Like I know that I see this on your Instagram. I see that you’re doing this in your classroom, but so much, really wonderful stuff can happen from cardboard.

Naomi Meredith (35:32):
Oh, for sure. That’s the best thing. And then the kids can all see what you eat at home. Like they’re thrilled to know you eat Mac and cheese with truffle oil. That box pops up a lot in my maker space.

Maddie (35:47):
So funny. So obviously, you know, you’ve learned all of this, right? You’re super self-taught. I know you talked about that. You’ve also learned a lot from just your own experiences as a STEM teacher, also coaching other teachers. And I know right now, too, you’re in the process of getting your Master’s. You’re almost done. And so congrats. That’s so exciting. What’s a takeaway that you’ve had from your Master’s courses, from any course, or your experience in the program? And how do you feel like you’ve been able to take that takeaway and translate it into your work of supporting other STEM teachers?

Naomi Meredith (36:20):
So my program I’ve been really lucky. It’s been a fast, like a little over a year program and what’s been really reaffirming is the things that I self-taught myself aligned with what I’m learning. So I wasn’t far off course, so that made me feel good. But the biggest trend that I noticed in all of my classes are two big things is how that integration is the ultimate goal, because we need STEM teachers, but it can be done in the classroom. Like that’s really the ultimate goal. But also how you can meet the needs of diverse students. Like our students have different needs than they did even 10 years ago. And I’ve seen that. I’m on my ninth year teaching and just the way kids learn is different in what they need. And like culturally, like that’s always been there too, but we need to meet the needs of the kids and STEM education and technology integration can really help meet those needs at greater levels. And just really put you as a teacher in multiple places at once in a good way. And so that’s the biggest trends that I have seen through this Master’s and they reiterate over and over again. So it must be important, but those are the biggest takeaways that I’ve seen throughout this program. For sure.

Maddie (37:36):
That’s great. And it’s nice to hear too that the stuff you taught yourself you’ve seen as true and your courses as well. Because I think sometimes there can be like kind of this disconnect in my mind between theory and practice, where people are always talking about like, “Oh, this is high level theory that you need to try out. It works in classrooms.” And it’s like, sometimes when you’re in the classroom, you don’t always see that. And so it’s nice to hear that there’s so many connections that you’re able to draw from this theoretical stuff that you’re learning in your courses with your actual boots-on-the-ground stuff that you’re doing in your classroom. So that’s neat for me to hear as well.

Naomi Meredith (38:14):
Yeah, totally. I bet I’ve been happy. It was money worth spent.

Maddie (38:19):
I really enjoyed our conversation. I am so excited about you. I think that you bring such positive energy to this conversation, but to your classroom to what you’re doing and the teacher community. You’re really doing some really incredible things online. So how and where can listeners find you if they want to learn more about you?

Naomi Meredith (38:38):
Oh, you’re so nice, Maddie. Oh my gosh. I could talk to you all day.

Maddie (38:42):
I know, I was looking at the clock like bummer. It’s already…

Naomi Meredith (38:46):
Yeah, but you guys can find me… I love Instagram. I love the visual. So it’s @naomimeredith_. That’s also Twitter. I’m starting up Twitter again. So hopefully there’s more to post there. My website is naomimeredith.com and then that has my course information. You’ve just click at the top. It says courses you’ll find that any course for Google slides. And then I also sell resources on Teachers Pay Teachers and it’s Naomi Meredith, and also Facebook Naomi Meredith.

Maddie (39:18):
I’ll be sure to have your Instagram, your Twitter, your website, the Google slides course and your Facebook group and your Teachers Pay Teachers store all linked in the episode description for listeners to check out. I know that they’re going to be as excited about you as I am. So thanks again for chatting with me. Like I said, I feel like you have so much wonderful information to share with teachers, and I’m really grateful that you joined me on the show today.

Naomi Meredith (39:45):
Thanks again, Maddie.

Maddie (39:48):
Thank you so much for listening to today’s episode of the ed tech classroom podcast with Naomi Meredith. If you liked this episode, be sure to give me a five star rating, write a review. It helps new podcasters like me so much, and I’ll see you back here soon. Bye friends.

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