Icon for: Tara O'Neill

TARA O'NEILL

Univ of Hawai'i, Manoa - College of Ed, University of Hawai‘i - Mānoa
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Tara O'Neill

    Tara O'Neill

    Lead Presenter
    Professor
    May 5, 2020 | 04:12 a.m.

    Aloha and thank you for taking a moment to view our video!

     STEMS^2 is a place and culture based educational construct that has been developed over the last several years with a team of community partners, educators and cultural practitioners in Hawai‘i. The journey to where we are now has been many generations long but is also just beginning. We have grown from a 20-person project designing STEM curriculum that connected the Worldwide Voyage of Hōkūle‘a to classrooms across Hawai‘i into a Master's program that works with 100 transformative formal and informal educators across the globe examining and redefining what counts as STEM and whose knowledge matters. 

    As we continue to grow, we are always learning and hopeful to expand our network.  

    • We would love to discuss any feedback, question or ideas you have about our work and are particularly excited about ideas for new partnerships.  
    • Are there projects or people (including yourself) you think we should be in communication with?

    Thank you again for viewing our video and we look forward to discussing ideas!  

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    Brian McConnell

    Parent
    May 6, 2020 | 10:11 a.m.

    Very informative and forward thinking. ! Well done.

  • Icon for: Tara O'Neill

    Tara O'Neill

    Lead Presenter
    Professor
    May 6, 2020 | 10:13 p.m.

    Aloha Brain,

    Thank you for viewing the video and the positive feedback :) 

  • Icon for: Francene Watson

    Francene Watson

    Researcher
    May 5, 2020 | 01:03 p.m.

    Gorgeous and inspiring project. I have never seen the social sciences and sense of place connected to STEM, and it's fantastic to have this name be illustrative and formative at the same time, especially centering IKS and a critical framework. Thank you-always reflective and inspired by the work throughout/within Hawaii. I guess my question is about the steps of bridging to schools and youth? Successes, challenges? Or perhaps, not the focus just yet? Again, gratitude for sharing your project. 

  • Icon for: Hollylynne Lee

    Hollylynne Lee

    Facilitator
    May 6, 2020 | 03:26 p.m.

    Very nice video that illustrates your project's committment to a much larger view of STEM as a construct that has meaning within place and culture. 

    I want to followup on Francene's questions about working with schools and youth. As teachers in your program develop their perspectives and pedagogies for using STEMS^2 in their classrooms, do you have any insight into how this approach may be transformative (or not) for students as they experience disciplinary content? I imagine the students are still in pretty traditional courses that treat different aspects of STEM seperately in a course structure (e.g., biology, geometry, statistics, chemistry, biotechnology). What may be happening in schools to help there be a cohesive STEMS^2 approach across courses?

  • Icon for: Stacy Prellberg

    Stacy Prellberg

    K-12 Teacher
    May 7, 2020 | 12:31 a.m.

    Hi Francene and Hollylynne,

    I'm a STEMS^2 graduate and I'm currently teaching in a 4/5th grade combination class as well as I've taught in a third grade classroom 2 years ago. I think the success of STEMS^2 is the same as it's challenges. In providing opportunities for students to learn about their place through multiple perspectives (STEMS^2), many teachers are supportive of having every aspect included into the curriculum, but may not have the content knowledge to transition from subject to subject. I myself am not an expert at all disciplines, but what I think is special about what I learned from STEMS^2 is that I need to curate the overall student experience more carefully. I need to leverage the community resources, often experts in their fields that have a strong sense of responsibility to their place and good ability to communicate that to kids, and provide space for my students to interact with them. I don't have to be the expert in all content, but I think it's my job to help students see that these contents are separate as well as connected. We often have discussions about identifying individual content aspects and putting them together to see how everything is interconnected. What's even better is when I can have discussion about Hawaiian culture as a way to learn all of these disciplines. I have 9 year olds who are interviewing national oceanographers about the conflicts between culture and science as well as learning about how global fish populations are calculated for the sake of managing global consumption. It's really hard to get moments like that for every kid, but when you provide a more inclusive integrated curriculum, it allows for all kids to find a space to develop exactly where they're at and where their needs/interests are.

    As for a larger challenge I face, I think convincing other educators to trust that they don't have to be the expert is very hard. I may not be an expert at every aspect of STEM, but I can make connections here and there to allow doorways for students to make connections, which has been hard for me to communicate to other educators. I think there is still a lot of work to be done in helping educators bridge disciplines and be explicit about these connections. I currently work on a team that has dived right into it and see the value of what STEMS^2 is trying to do for students and the over separation of these body's of knowledge. We're still at the beginning of what this ideally looks like, but I feel really good about what I do when I have Hawaiian and non-Hawaiian students who value themselves and see themselves becoming more scientific, mathematical, cultural, and the like. Most of all, I'm really appreciative that they value multiple perspectives even if they're opposing perspectives and/or seemingly disjointed concepts.

    Hopefully this helps.

     
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    Francene Watson
    Jennifer Carinci
  • Icon for: Tara O'Neill

    Tara O'Neill

    Lead Presenter
    Professor
    May 7, 2020 | 08:51 p.m.

    Aloha Francene and Hollylynne,

    Thank you so much for your comments and questions. Francene, I watch your video a well and love you project. I feel like there are a number of space of overlap that I would love to discuss is you are interested. 

    In specific response to your questions about transfer to schools and students, I'll answer that in two parts. As for impact, translation of STEMS^2 to the classroom on the part of teachers, while we find the majority are able to bring portions of the construct into their classrooms the degree to which they are able to truly transform their spaces varies by context.  Early on we started to recognize that part of the construct needed to include advocacy as a specific pillar and to spend time building educators capacity to serve as agents of change in their teaching and learning spaces. We also require all participants to design and implement a STEMS^2 unit (we do this both in the masters' program and when offering PD not connected to the masters' program). The designing is meant to develop educators' identities as "critical curriculum consumers" and implementation allows educators to feel all the challenges and joy that come from working within a STEMS^2 framework. We find if they have space to "play" with STEMS^2 curriculum supported as a participant in the masters' or in a PD they are significantly more likely to continue implementation upon completion of their STEMS^2 experience. Educators (both formal and informal) have reported and demonstrated remarkable transformation in their teaching practice though that has come with struggle. The STEMS^2 construct does not easily fit in the design of the traditional school day and often requires advocacy to make work. Some teachers, such as Stacy who commented above create space for their practice by working with peers to creating "teaching teams" even if the school does not officially have teams. Other work with their administration to create access to the mental, emotional and physical spaces required to teach from a STEMS^2 lens. How this is done varies across contexts but was is pivotal for transformation in the network. Educators cannot just complete a masters or PD and then left on their own to figure out. We are working on building a robust network of educators, administrators, policy makers, community members, cultural practitioners, students, etc.…It is this network that both in the short and long-term are allowing for true transformation. I am happy to plan a time to talk more about more specific examples how STEMS^2 has transferred into a variety of teaching and learning space and/or figure out a plan for how you can talk with some of the educators who are applying the STEMS^2 construct. As for impact on students, that is newer data that we are collecting and is one of the next growth spaces for us as we try and measure impact. At the moment we have teacher reported data that indicates application of STEMS^2 pedagogy has resulted in lower behavioral issues, increased student attendance and increased student engagement. We have not yet studied “academic impacts” such as test scores and grades and would love to do a more robust longitudinal study of impact on students over time.

     

     
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    Hollylynne Lee
    Francene Watson
  • May 7, 2020 | 09:49 p.m.

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful and needed work, Tara. Stacy, I enjoyed reading your perspective and agree regarding expert difficulty. Visit here, if you would like to share more of your story.

  • Icon for: Patti Curtis

    Patti Curtis

    Robert Noyce/Ellen Lettvin STEM Education Fellow
    May 5, 2020 | 04:36 p.m.

    What a fantastic journey and proliferation of culturally relevant content and network of engaged educators you have spawned! Thanks for sharing.  Wishing you continued success and enlightening research outcomes.

  • Icon for: Tara O'Neill

    Tara O'Neill

    Lead Presenter
    Professor
    May 7, 2020 | 09:07 p.m.

    Aloha Patti,

    Thank you for taking the time to view our video and for your kind feedback. Development of STEMS^2 has truly been a fantastic journey filled with joy and a lot of learning. 

  • Icon for: Cara Shopa

    Cara Shopa

    Indige-FEWSS Program Coordinator
    May 5, 2020 | 08:07 p.m.

    Wow, love the work you are doing with community members to bring place- and culture-based connections to STEM education and innovation! Our team at University of Arizona, the NSF-NRT "Indige-FEWSS" program, is working with Navajo communities to bring TEK (traditional ecological knowledge) to bear in the development of Food-Energy-Water advances and education.

    I'm curious to know what types of civic engagement your grad students undertake? And how does that engagement get incorporated into your programming or community collaborations?  

     
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    Alex DeCiccio
  • Icon for: Tara O'Neill

    Tara O'Neill

    Lead Presenter
    Professor
    May 7, 2020 | 09:34 p.m.

    Hi Cara,

    Thank you for your comments. I watched your project video. It's really exciting what you and your project team are doing. Creating space for community voice and knowledge is so powerful and so important. The types of civic engagement our educators engage in varies depending on their interests and community needs. As part of the STEMS^2 masters program students do a year long advocacy project. As part of that project students have focused on issues related to reduction of food waste, water rights, access to meaningful after school programs, food sustainability and food sovereignty, etc... The kinds of civic engagement our educators undertake in connection with their teaching depends often on the community partner they collaborate with and of course the needs of their communities. Applying STEMS^2 pedagogy teachers have designed units focused on native plant restoration, native plant and fish identification and stream restoration, agricultural engineering with indigenous and western tech, exploration of sustainable food crops such ‘ulu (breadfruit), etc... 

    These engagements get incorporated into our program in a number of ways. In some cases, students' work has introduced the program to new community partners and those partnerships build into longterm relationships and projects that future student work on. In other cases, students' build long-term relationships with community partners they met as part of the STEMS^2 masters or PD experience and those relationship get incorporated into their teaching and learning spaces. One of my favorite part of the STEMS^2 construct is our pillar of "A‘o" (reciprocal teaching and learning). In all moments we all get to be teachers and learners and thus are always learning and growing. 

  • Icon for: Lori Andersen

    Lori Andersen

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 5, 2020 | 11:19 p.m.

    Nice video! This is a very exciting program that really brings all different kinds of content together for students in a meaningful way.

     

  • Icon for: Tara O'Neill

    Tara O'Neill

    Lead Presenter
    Professor
    May 7, 2020 | 09:34 p.m.

    Hi Lori,

    Thank you so much for your kind comment. 

  • Icon for: Ann Cavallo

    Ann Cavallo

    Facilitator
    May 6, 2020 | 12:53 a.m.

    What is the follow up with participants over the years and beyond of the program? Do you have measures of program impact on the learning of teacher participants and students in their classrooms? Thank you - very interesting program!

  • Icon for: Tara O'Neill

    Tara O'Neill

    Lead Presenter
    Professor
    May 7, 2020 | 09:49 p.m.

    Hi Ann,

    Thank you for your questions. A very important part of the STEMS^2 construct is the network so we make a lot of effort to follow-up and engage with participants well beyond the completion of their masters' or their PD experience. This happens in a number of ways. We designed an annual conference called the STEMS^2 Symposium where alumni, community partners, all interested participants come together to share their work. This year the symposium is on-line via zoom on June 25th and June 26th from 8:30am - 12pm HST. You are more than welcome to join :). We send out a regular network newsletter where we share what people in the network are doing. We ask alumni to contribute updates from their teaching and learning spaces as part of the newsletter. We also host a weekly pau hana (happy hour) on weds. where network members (mostly masters' alumni) meet-up and share challenges they are facing and exciting work they are up to. We also do the traditional end of program surveys. Through these avenues we have been able to measure the impact on teacher participants though my next step is to take the time to collectively analyze our five years of masters' program data to gain an understanding of longitudinal impact on teachers. I am still working on designing the study to meaningfully measure impact on their students beyond the teacher reported data we have. I am open to any ideas you might have. 

  • Icon for: Hollylynne Lee

    Hollylynne Lee

    Facilitator
    May 11, 2020 | 11:34 a.m.

    Thanks for sharing these examples of formal and informal (pau hana) ways that the teachers can gather for PD/mentoring/social support. I imagine these are very helpful for sustained engagement!

  • Icon for: Aramati Casper

    Aramati Casper

    Researcher
    May 6, 2020 | 03:21 p.m.

    This looks like an amazing program. I really like the concept behind the STEMS2, drawing in social science and sense of place. What are some of the things that have facilitated being able to create this more holistic program?

  • Icon for: Tara O'Neill

    Tara O'Neill

    Lead Presenter
    Professor
    May 7, 2020 | 09:55 p.m.

    Hi Aramati,

    Thank you for your comment. Two keys to the holistic nature of our work is the fundamental grounding in sense of place and our connection with community partners. STEMS^2 is a "multiple minds" construct that requires collective thinking and engagement. This multiple minds design forces us to function from multiple perspectives/lenses or "makawalu" (eight eyes) at one time and creates for the holistic programming. Planning is a lot to coordinate and is not always easy but the outcomes are well worth the effort. 

  • Icon for: Beth Sappe

    Beth Sappe

    Facilitator
    May 7, 2020 | 03:55 p.m.

    Very interesting project. Making connections to the community is such an integral part of STEM education. Do you have specific protocols used to align the culturally relevant STEM innovative content into the teacher’s courses? Do you have student achievement data that is showing promising results?

  • Icon for: Tara O'Neill

    Tara O'Neill

    Lead Presenter
    Professor
    May 7, 2020 | 10:02 p.m.

    Hi Beth,

    Thank you for your comment and questions. I am not sure what you mean by specific protocols however as a place-based construct we try to provide for a lot of flexibility for how STEMS^2 pedagogy is implemented given the context of the place. All work is grounded in 5 pillars that when met, allow for the alignment of STEMS^2 practices into teachers' course. STEMS² pedagogy is grounded in five pillars that result in our embracing of the ōlelo no‘eau [Hawaiian proverb]of Ma ka hana ‘ike – through doing one learns. The five pillars are A‘o [reciprocal teaching and learning], Makawalu [eight eyes] represents the need to see real world problems and solutions through multiple lenses, many angles and multiple ways of knowing at the same time, Mo‘olelo [stories, history], Sense of Place and Advocacy.

    We have data on impact of teacher participants. Any impact on students has been reported by the teacher participants and we are just starting to collect that data. Early findings suggest employing STEMS^2 pedagogy strengthens classroom community, reduces behavioral issues, and increases attendance. We have not yet collected test scores or grade types of data. 

  • Icon for: Beth Sappe

    Beth Sappe

    Facilitator
    May 8, 2020 | 11:57 a.m.

    Thanks for the response Tara and for explaning how you ground your work in the 5 pillars that was exactly what I was asking when i said protocols. 

  • May 8, 2020 | 05:31 a.m.

    Building a network can be a very strong way to have greater impact.  Sort of like building a multi-level sales organization--a key issue is how to maintain incentives in the longest branches of the network and how to feed back information (product) to the central node.  How to prevent breakdowns and reduce losses of information or message at any subnode.  (or to use another analogy, how to make knowledge and enthusiasm spread like an epidemic, and get sustained in the community.).

  • May 8, 2020 | 05:37 a.m.

    In our own project, where one goal is to build Professional Learning Communities with the teachers who have participated in our Professional Development workshops, we have been stymied by school system attrition after our workshops, curricular "dissonance" when the school system made top-down curricular changes, and overwork--just the everyday demands put on every teacher.  Getting that next level in the network to a sustainable level has been difficult.  Ideas from your project might help.

  • Icon for: Leigh Peake

    Leigh Peake

    Informal Educator
    May 9, 2020 | 03:04 p.m.

    Thanks so much for the video but, maybe more important, for the detailed responses to everyone's comments. The integration of sense of place is critical to our work also, though not with nearly the kind of strong cultural pillars your project exhibits. I'm inspired! In our case we have a strong emphasis on how important data and modeling around local ecosystems is to a state economy based largely on natural resources, particularly livelihoods dependent on the ocean. Our network of rural Regional Teacher Communities (peer learning communities) has been around for ~4 years and has proved to be an important support for teacher persisting in the face of (in Jeffrey's words) curriculum dissonance at the school level. 

  • Icon for: Hollylynne Lee

    Hollylynne Lee

    Facilitator
    May 11, 2020 | 11:38 a.m.

    Tara, I wanted to also follow-up on your response above where you elaborated on some of the variations of how teachers can use a STEMS^2 approach in their classrooms.  I agree that learning to be school-based change agent and advocate is really important whenever a teacher wants to help transform their classrooms as well as the efforts school-wide. Building that teacher-leader voice is an important part of our work as teacher educators.  Kudos to all the wonderful work you are doing across Hawaii. I assume that your efforts span multiple islands(?), which likely has its own challenges.

  • Icon for: Ashley Garcia

    Ashley Garcia

    Account Manager
    May 11, 2020 | 04:14 p.m.

    Hi,

    What a great video! I love the concept of Ma ka hana ‘ike. Our office runs a workshop for faculty called the Bystander Leadership Program, and it's based on making participants practice intervention strategies so that they'll feel more comfortable intervening in the real world. We've found, and we completely agree, with the protocols you discuss - the best way to learn is definitely by doing.

  • Icon for: Melissa Bonnin

    Melissa Bonnin

    Higher Ed Administrator
    May 12, 2020 | 07:19 p.m.

    Aloha Tara!  We are so inspired by the work you do and of course, want to connect our current work to your programs.  Thank you to you and your team.

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