As teachers, we often struggle with student buy-in and engagement. We’ve heard the question many times: “why do I need to learn this?”
As STEM teachers, we could answer with any of the following: “job stability”, “economic growth,” or “for your future.” All of these responses are true, but none will resonate quite as much as this one: MONEY.
As a teacher, you carefully craft your lesson plan to allow students multiple ways to interact with the content. You plan hands-on activities or labs, integrate cooperate learning strategies, and give time to practice calculations. After days of working through content using carefully selected activities enabling students to practice what they are learning, it is time for the assessment. You draft a multiple-choice exam covering the material, grade the tests, and record the data. But how do you know what they really learned? Did the students who scored poorly on the assessment not learn anything? Did the students who scored well really master the material?
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 “How to connect 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 Do Teacher Actions Matter in STEM Education?”
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 “What is 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.