Congratulations to the 12 finalists of the Innovation in Catholic Education awards. Here are the finalists in the “Curriculum and Instruction” category, along with a bit about their program areas.
Holy Cross of San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas
Our STREAM Program was initiated this school year after a year of planning and securing a donor. Our STEM Program (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) integrates Religion and the Arts to form a complete STREAM. The program accepted 30 students in grades 6th and 9th through an application and interview process of both students and parents. The program will grow with the addition of one grade level each year. Our Mission is to prepare young men and women for positions of leadership and responsibility in the STREAM careers of their choosing, through the Moreau tradition of education. Father Basile Moreau, founder of the Holy Cross Congregation taught educators that, “We will never cultivate the mind at the expense of the heart”. In that spirit, we prepare students to use their Christian Identity to solve problems by paying close attention to the social good and employing social justice in all aspects of the problem solving process.
St. Mary Immaculate School, Plainfield, Illinois
“Inspiring Teachers to Help Curriculum Drive Technology”
Professional development is provided to the teachers in a variety of ways but the most innovative has been gamefying technology for the teachers. The idea was to increase their knowledge, comfort and use of technology by teacher in planning and delivering daily learning activities.. Traditional meetings with one person presenting a tool or app to teachers and showing them how to use it met with little use in the individual classrooms. The school struggled to find ways to make their 1:1 more program more than just using the devices for research and productivity. Hence, the idea of creating fun in learning technology for the teachers was born.
A competitive environment was created through a badge program for teachers and administrators. At each faculty meeting a teacher who introduced a new tool or way to use technology in her class was awarded a badge. At the meeting, the teacher would explain why the tool/app was chosen and demonstrate its use to colleagues.
Teachers could also submit to the technology integration specialist a short explanation of the tool or app they tried and to what level of success. The specialist would review their information and if it met the criteria for learning and innovation they were awarded a badge.
Many of the teachers progressed from minimal technology skills to advocates and believers in the power of technology to change student learning in the classroom. Teachers proudly displayed their badges on classroom doors and were challenging each other to find meaningful tools and apps to support the learning they were providing to the students.Using this strategy for approximately two years significantly increased the teachers use of many technology tools, applications and Google Classroom. Professional development for teaching and learning became an opportunity that teachers were eager to embrace.
Currently teachers, with a repertoire of skills and tools, meet individually with the technology integration specialist to collaborate on lessons finding the best tools to deliver the content and skills for the students in ways that make the information meaningful and motive them to engage and deepen their knowledge. The school has added a STEM program as part of rigorous academic curriculum.
Academy of St. Adalbert, Berea, Ohio
“Partnership with STEPS Center for Excellence in Autism”
Through our partnership with the STEPS Center for Excellence in Autism and our dedicated St. Adalbert faculty, our program is an inclusive environment where students who are on the Autism Spectrum or who have learning disabilities are able to practice their Catholic faith and attend general education classes alongside their neurotypical peers. Our students are exposed to challenges and opportunities within the walls of the school and the wider community.