So, you’ve decided to implement STEM in your classroom. Where to start? I’ve got you covered!
STEM is such a big topic and it can be overwhelming, but by implementing these 5 easy steps, you should be off and running in no time!
1. Have a Classroom Behavior Management System
Before you begin implementing STEM with your students, have a solid classroom management system. Whether it is flipping cards, earning chips, or collecting, make sure you have a system in place…and you’ve taught students how to use it. In my classroom, we had a money system. Each student had a job and students did their jobs at the end of each day. Each student earned $5 of classroom money each week for doing said job (and at the end of the quarter, we’d have an auction.) For us, the first time was a warning and the second time there was a fine. Students knew that if they were fined, that each person on the team owed me $1. Problem solved.
2. Find a Solid Design Challenge
Once you have your system in place and the kids know the expectations and consequences, find a simple design challenge to further model how teams should (or should not) work together. I like to use Save Fred and The Three Little Pigs at the beginning of the year because Fred teaches teamwork and The Three Little Pigs has a nice parallel between the effort the pigs put into their houses and the effort students put into their schoolwork. I digress, but you can read more about that here.
3. Keep the End in Mind
As with any project, the kids need to know what they are shooting for. Sharing the rubric ahead of time (or better yet having the kids help develop it) will help set expectations and help student frame the problem. Taking class time to have a discussion about the rubric is also well worth the time too as it gets kinds thinking more critically.
4. Everybody Plays
Another thing to discuss ahead of time is what everyone will be doing (or not doing). Kids will be kids and if there is nothing holding them accountable (see #1) they will get off task quickly. So, when students work in teams, everyone has a specific job. We also rotate each day so that everyone gets to do each of the jobs. Each job is spelled out on a card and lets that student know what they are in charge of and what questions a person doing that job should be asking. Need some role cards? If you’re liking what you’re hearing and you’d like to sign up to Stay Connected with me, they are free! Each role card is a half-page and 5 roles are included.
5. The Devil’s in the Details
Last but not least, how do we pull this thing all together? Interactive STEM Notebooks FTW! As students are working through their design challenge, they will be collecting data, capturing ideas, and making notes. But, don’t just leave kids to their own devices. Lead the responses by requiring particular observations, diagrams, etc. Or, if you prefer, construct a page for them to glue into their notebooks and complete. (Have I mentioned how much I love marbled composition books for this? All the STEM Notebook pages on Starfish Education are designed as half-pages wit this in mind!)
So, what are you waiting for? Give implementing STEM a try and let me know how it goes!
Lane specializes in STEM curriculum design and professional development for K-12 stakeholders and enjoys making teachers’ lives easier through innovative, standards-based STEM lessons.