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12 Steps to Developing Great STEM Lessons

Anne Jolly STEM curriculum writer, PLC author, consultant and trainer

I'm always looking for ideas for how to incorporate STEM lessons into the middle school curriculum. I've compiled the process some teachers in Mobile, AL are using if you'd like to take a look at 12 Steps to Developing Great STEM Lessons. http://www.middleweb.com/4328/12-steps-to-great-stem-lessons/

In the meantime, that "T" in STEM needs more emphasis. I'd love to collect some ideas on how you (or others you know of) do that. Thanks!

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Thanks for the "STEM Guide",

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Thanks for the "STEM Guide", Anne, this will definately be useful to my new group of science teacher mentees and for integration into my PD programs on NGSS! Bringing more "T" into STEM lessons is something that most science teachers don't think enough about. Just using a Smartboard or having students conduct research on computers is not enough. Using technology in middle school labs (as most high schools) do involves funding for tech tools like probes,etc., having internet access in every classroom*, and providing computers and Smartboards to all teachers. Once teachers have the tools they need to teach digital learners, then we can talk about the implementation of them in STEM.
*As an e-Mentor for 8 middle school science teachers this year, I found that 6/8 did not have the technology in their building to participate in a webcam observation. In fact, at least two or three of the teachers said they could not rely on the internet in their building working on any given day.

Redesign is Important/Technology Suggestion

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Anne,
I'm sure your 12 steps will be helpful to anyone with an interest in integrating engineering into their middle school (or other) curriculum! I think that we have to support the idea of taking time for redesign (Step 12); it teaches valuable lessons about the value of creativity, risk-taking, failure, analysis, and perseverance--and the nature of the technological world in which they are immersed daily.

Here's an idea about using technology in the engineering classroom - one which I confess I've yet to try: Videotape the performance of the teams' designed systems or objects. Then allow teams to use the videos to analyze their designs, seeking clues about why their designs are/are not working well. This can inform their decisions as they redesign. So often, tests of student designs happen quickly and students are left to fill in what they think is happening with their designed technologies. Video would help them review different aspects of performance and possibly even allow them to slow down the motion to really look at what's happening. Imagine a slow playback of a wind turbine or of water flowing near a student-designed sediment barrier in a model watershed. Afterward, some reflection on how the use of video technology helped students would allow for some explicit teaching and learning about "technology."

STEM curriculum writer, PLC author, consultant and trainer

Too common!

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That situation is all too common, Caroline! I sometimes think our students are growing up as if they are in third world countries with regard to digital technology access in schools. A real problem is Internet access. The bandwidth just won't carry the number of students who log on, and everthing bogs down.

Technology in science is another area that I wish our schools were able to address. When I was teaching 8th grade science, we teachers and parents held fund raisers (shudder), and just plain begged businesses to help us purchase needed microscopes. A university helped us out with some items, such as solar panels that they were discarding.

STEM curriculum writer, PLC author, consultant and trainer

What an idea!

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Wow, Carolyn! What a great idea! I've been wondering how to get kids to take more time to analyze their work. Since some of the testing goes by so quickly they really don't have time to do anything but talk about it afterwards. This is an idea I'm going to pass along. In fact, I hope a lot of folks will pass it on!

Anne

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