Through these experiences, our teachers got to see the students excited about and actively engaged in learning. Students embraced the struggle to find or create solutions, trial and error methods, and were comfortable in taking risks with their ideas. We began planning more hands-on, problem-based, inquiry lessons in Science. We began using technology in new ways. We were creating content for students using these tools. Students were using the technology to showcase their learning and mastery of standards. Teachers began to shift their thinking. STEM wasn't something else we "had" to do. STEM was a new way of thinking, integrating standards from all subject areas into projects. Soon to follow was the creation of a year-long project for each grade level that encompassed standards from all subjects.
Meriam-Webster defines synergy as the increased effectiveness that results when two or more people work together. Perhaps no other word more aptly describes what continues to develop at our school. The more closely we worked with our grade level colleagues, the better our instruction, unit planning, and activities are for our students. This mirrors our central hope for students at Gilbert Elementary: the more ideas they entertain, the more peers they engage with, and the more values and solutions they defend, the more critical and thoughtful leaders they will gradually become, for our school, for our community, and for our world.