The word “technology” usually brings to mind images of smartphones, tablets, and computers. These devices are pretty incredible, giving us access to the entire World Wide Web with the swipe of a fingertip. Yet, thinking of “technology” in these terms is very limiting. A quick search on dictionary.com defines “technology” as the development of knowledge for practical purposes, usually to satisfy a need or solve a problem.
Why do I need to learn this? It’s a question every teacher has faced at one time or another. So, how do we convince students that what they are doing in the classroom matters? It’s simple, really. We stop creating a gap between the “real” world and the “school world.” What does that even mean? Which world are we living in if not the real one? Doesn’t it make more sense to empower students to see the connections between their learning and the world outside of school?
This approach eliminates the conceptualization of two distinct and separate worlds and builds in students an understanding that their learning is immediately applicable and necessary. Our role as STEM teachers is to help make the classroom environment look and feel more like the external environment, so students can move between the two comfortably.
So, how do we blur — or even erase — that invisible line between the “real” and “schools” worlds? We could go about this by making connections in two directions: into and out of the classroom.
Most teachers we talk to agree that their students struggle with critical thinking, problem-solving ability, and reasoning. We also know that many students lack the skills they need to read information, extract important points within the text, and synthesize what they have read (Barrow, 2006).
So, how can we remedy this problem and better prepare our students for the workforce? At NISE, we believe the answer is to immerse students in STEM learning. STEM can be understood as simply integrating the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Or, it can describe an approach to learning that enables students to take an active role in the asking of questions and solving of problems. This second interpretation applies a STEM mindset to all disciplines, not only science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Continue reading “Connecting STEM to your Standards”
Think back to your first year of teaching. Whether you had just graduated from college where you majored in education or had completed an alternative certification program, most people can remember their first year of teaching like it was yesterday. At the end of your first year, your sense of satisfaction came from surviving all the unexpected trials you encountered. You were required to observe master teachers and take notes on how they ran their classroom. So, what made their classes good? Continue reading “Why Teacher Actions Matter”
One of the biggest challenges teachers face in the classroom is ensuring learning for all. What do I do if some of the students get it and others do not? How do I challenge the students that grasp the content at a faster rate than other students? How can I support my struggling students who get lost early in the material but do not ask for help? How can I challenge my students to think critically and problem solve? What activities can I use to provide my students with creative opportunities while still interacting with content? Continue reading “Mastery Learning in STEM”
The National Institute for STEM Education (NISE) has been named a finalist in the 2017 SIIA Education CODiE Awards for Best Professional Learning Solution for Faculty & Administrative Staff. In its 34th year, the SIIA CODiE Awards is the software and information industry’s only peer-reviewed awards program recognizing product excellence.
STEM needs and opportunities in education and the workplace continue to expand exponentially in the United States. In the past 16 years, STEM jobs increased by 26 percent compared to six percent across all occupations. Meanwhile, the comparatively low rates of STEM graduates require U.S. employers to rely on skilled foreign workers. The reality to be confronted is that educators — and I include myself here — are not yet developing the workforce needed to fill our country’s STEM needs today or in the future. As a result, our graduates are not prepared to grasp the many STEM opportunities available to them.
At the same time, STEM occupations are, and will continue to be, among the top-paying positions in the nation. In 2013, workers in STEM occupations earned a median annual wage of $76,000 — compared to a median annual wage of $35,080 for all workers (Occupational Outlook Quarterly, Spring 2014.) The bottom line is: Career positions in STEM fields are plentiful, financially lucrative, and increasing at a much faster pace than other occupations, yet there are not enough American workers to fill them. Continue reading “Preparing Graduates to Meet STEM Needs and Opportunities”
Ever since the National Institute for STEM Education (NISE) opened it’s doors to teachers seeking STEM certification in June of 2016 they have seen many educators graduate and move on to provide a STEM classroom with a new set of tools.
“Since the beginning, our goal has been to help teachers develop a common understanding of STEM and, more specifically, to provide them with the resources, skills, and strategies they need to implement the STEM instruction in their classrooms,” said Whitney Dove, Manager of STEM Certification for NISE.
The 100th graduate, Anna Turner, a second- year fourth-grade teacher from Marrietta, Georgia spends her days teaching all subjects including science. Since STEM teaching requires more planning, Anna sought the help of her district’s key STEM team, a group of teachers who are experts and leaders in STEM preparation for their school and district. Continue reading “National Institute for STEM Education Hits 100th Graduate Milestone”
In ninth grade, I did a leaf collection project for my biology class. My grandfather, a science professor, and my dad, a medical doctor, helped me make sure that my specimens were correctly identified, prepared, mounted, and labeled. I remember painstakingly typing out the genus and species’ names, capitalizing the genus, and using lowercase for the species’ names. I remember thinking the rule quite odd, but followed it nonetheless. I was very proud of that project, and handed it in with a sigh of relief, knowing I had done my very best work. A few weeks later, the teacher handed my project back to me with every single name of every single species circled in red, and a giant “-5 points” scrawled across each page. I remember fighting back tears and approaching my teacher. “What did I do wrong?” I asked. “Well, you didn’t capitalize the species’ names!” she barked back. Continue reading “What’s in a Grade?”
One of the most enjoyable investigations that I recently observed was during science time in a pre-K classroom. After the teacher reminded students to wash their hands and not to squeeze the little creatures, the excitement built as each student was given a worm to study. The students, holding out their hands as if they were waiting for a prize, immediately began to smile and ask questions. Continue reading “Investigating Phenomena that Change Slowly”