When do I “do” STEM and still Teach Everything Else?

Classroom teachers are so overwhelmed with administrative duties, curriculum demands, district assessments, NCLB, state testing, implementation of CCSS (and the list goes on).  So, when these folks ask this question, they are most likely asking partly out of desperation and partly out of sarcasm.

The good news is that once you’ve identified how to locate resources and implement STEM, this one is a piece of cake!  Locating resources that will fit into your curriculum will help you to consolidate and actually make your planning, implementation and assessment easier.

Here’s how its done using the Mars Rover Celebration Curriculum Module as an example:

Planning: Once you’ve identified the resource you’ll be using, flip to the curriculum section.  Curriculum developed by reputable people and organizations will have an entire section devoted to the standards alignment.  Most curriculum developers are in the midst of revising these tables to include CCSS, but the state for which the curriculum was developed for should be there as well as the National standards.  Then, go through the tables making note of which standards your state or district require you to teach.

Implementation: Once you’ve finished your coffee while looking over the curriculum section of your resource, you can begin to either consolidate skills with other lessons and projects or spiral them in a meaningful way to help students further develop these skills.

Assessment:  Teachers tell me that this one is the toughie with STEM projects.  When teachers talk about assessments, they generally mean tests, but in the real world, you don’t have to take an algebra test next week.  An assessment can be any piece of work that helps students to display competency and/or mastery.  Students who participate in this project will end up creating, writing and preparing numerous different artifacts that can easily be used as assessments- Science Notebooks, Rover Manual, Presentation Skit, Mars Rover Model….

Now that you know the basic steps, get started!  Your students will be excited to participate in class and will learn a wealth of real-world skills in addition to their grade-level curriculum.

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