How to develop students who are creators, not consumers

Growth mindset encourages students to brainstorm to solve problems
By: | September 9, 2020

Teachers should create opportunities for productive struggle where students learn to work independently and manage their time, says Rachelle Dene Poth, a DA columnist and technology teacher at Riverview Junior Senior High School in Pennsylvania.

This fosters a growth mindset that encourages students to brainstorm to solve problems.

Over the summer, students in 3rd through 8th grade in California’s Compton USD participated in free virtual STEAM camps where they worked in teams to create virtual Minecraft worlds and learned to write Scratch code to map out COVID hotspots and food deserts.

Some students used IBM’s Watson to create “chatbots,” the technology that companies and other organizations use to automate life-like responses to customer queries on their websites.

More from DA: Still not convinced about the power of esports in schools?

And in an introduction to esports, students competed in video gaming and explored the rapidly growing industry’s other roles, such as broadcasting to streaming technology to marketing. The district is now planning to build a studio where students can practice video-game announcing, or “shoutcasting” as it’s called in the esports world.

“Did we want kids to play video games 12 hours a day? No, but we wanted that to be the hook into that industry,” says Michele Dawson, Compton’s senior director of educational technology. “We don’t only want our students to be the consumers of technology, we want them to be the creators. Creators make decisions about how the world is going to run.”

The diverse district views STEM and coding through an equity lens. During computer science week, Compton USD has hosted talks by tech professionals who comprise the small number of Black programmers in the industry.

These talks give students insights into how Apple, Google and other companies are recruiting students of color, Dawson says. And at an annual STEAM Fest, families explore career opportunities with major tech employers such as Boeing, Raytheon and Verizon.

Read the other stories in our series on the future of work:

  1. How to ensure equity begins early when building career skills
  2. Why you should stress COVID-era skills in CTE programs
  3. How CTE develops on-the-job learners
  4. Why not create your own coding curriculum?
  5. 5 changes that will prepare students for the future of work