Blair Steffens

STEAM Coach @ Munford Elementary School

Presentation Title: Partnering for Quality Outdoor Learning

Abstract: During this session, participants will see first hand how a school with a nature theme throughout embeds STEM and outdoor learning in all parts of the learning process. Munford Elementary School is in partnership with the US Forestry Service. When you enter the building, you enter a cave that includes stalactites and stalagmites. Learning at Munford Elementary is rooted in the outdoors and environmental experiences. This session will allow participants to see first hand how our school embeds outdoor learning in Project Based Learning experiences. The presenter will share project examples from multiple grade levels along with resources for planning quality outdoor learning experiences. Projects include Kindergarteners planting their own garden, fifth graders raising money to build a new walking track, fourth graders partnering with a classroom in another country to improve water quality and more. We will also show the impact of partnering with the middle and high schools to provide elementary students with experiences like fishing in a pond on campus to learn more about the kinds of fish native to our area and how to protect the habitat, along with the impact of raising bees on campus and the benefits for the community. Students are able to learn about how to take care of the land so that it can help their families and the community. Participants will explore resources provided in order to plan an outdoor learning experience for their own classroom.

Biography: Blair Steffens is the STEAM Coach at Munford Elementary School in Munford, Alabama. Mrs. Steffens received her Bachelors and Masters degrees in Elementary Education from Jacksonville State University. Mrs. Steffens has 10 years experience in grades 3 and 4. This is her second year in the role as STEAM Coach. In this role, Mrs. Steffens provides teachers with coaching, resources and modeling in order for all teachers in the school to feel comfortable with embedding STEAM related experiences in everyday learning. Mrs. Steffens is trained with the Buck Institute in Project-Based Learning, and her beliefs about teaching are grounding in providing experiences that allow students to take ownership of their learning and guide their own path for learning so that students are provided experiences that are most important to them. Mrs. Steffens is a trainer in Project-Based Learning with the Alabama State Department, and she has led multiple school systems in implementing Project-Based Learning into their daily curriculum. Mrs. Steffens brings many years of experience with successful implementation of Project-Based Learning, STEAM instruction and outdoor education.