In designing a STEM unit, we have developed a plan complete with standards and a challenge. Next, we have examined different types of assessments to incorporate into the unit and have explored how to create a rubric for the end-of-project summative assessment.
As we move through the process of designing and developing a STEM unit, we need to consider a framework that students will use to help keep some structure in the classroom, but also to give them the freedom to use their inquiry strategies.
One way to do that is to use Role Cards. When teaching a STEM unit, students are generally placed in teams of 4 or 5. Defining a role for each student within a team is key to making sure that each student knows his/her responsibilities. These roles also help students work through their challenge and keep them progressing in a forward direction without arguing about who should be in charge of what. (So that each student gets to experience each role and to keep things fair, I tend to have them rotate roles each week or couple of days depending on the length of the project.)
I designed two set of Role Cards that I use with students. The first set can be used for just about any group work and contains roles that are pretty general and could cover a multitude of different disciplines and/or projects. The roles I use for this are: Recorder, Supply Manager, Coach, Facilitator, and Data Manager. Each card states the title, defines the role and provides questions that that student may consider about their roles within the group.
When conducting a STEM unit, I use a different set of cards that are better suited to inquiry-based strategies. The roles I use for this are: Data Analyst, Project Manager, Investigator, Engineer, and Forecaster. Again, each card states the title, defines the role and provides questions that that students should be asking the group (and themselves).
No matter which set of cards I choose for project, I photocopy them on card stock and laminate them so that students can actively use them each day.