As a science teacher, keeping girls in STEM is something I strive for. A few years ago, my school was fortunate enough to have a Techbridge Girls after-school program. Techbridge Girls is a nonprofit organization focused on keeping girls in STEM. It provides role models, families, and organizations with training, curriculum, and support to girls in undeserved areas.
The co-teacher of the after-school program was a female college student who shared her own struggles and successes in the STEM field. The curriculum included the girls adjusting the design of a robotic wooden dinosaur until it could walk a short distance without falling over, disassembling a hair dryer to determine what made it work, properly soldering five locations on an electronic circuit board, and engineering a gumball machine. I witnessed the girls' confidence grow as the weekly tasks increased in difficulty. With each struggle, they needed to find their own solution and with each solution, they found success. The experience gave them a glimpse of what their future could consist of.
One of my early challenges in coordinating my school’s STEM efforts has been determining exactly what is meant by a STEM school. There are probably as many answers to this question as there are educators, but I have decided to focus on what goes on inside the classroom. Not just in a science or math class, but in all classrooms. There are some activities that have traditionally been done well by the STEM disciplines that can be cross applied to all subjects.
There are tons of topics and concepts that school has to introduce to young people, but the ability of critical thinking is easily the most vital among them. Stanford’s Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines it as “careful thinking directed to a goal”.
Critical thinking abilities include discerning wrong info and unreliable sources, connecting various facts, remaining rational and finding what is wrong with the reasoning of others. All of these are incredibly valuable, no matter which teaching strategies you’re employing.
A STEM education consultant explains how consistent collaboration among teachers can foster effective STEM-based PBL instruction.
Technology is everywhere and entwined in our daily lives so when technology in the classroom is used correctly it opens up possibilities for more student learning.
I strive to make my classroom a fun, engaging place to learn every day. By integrating technology into the classroom in a meaningful and purposeful way, I am able to hold and sustain a student’s love for learning. Using technology in the classroom has transformed me into an educator that is a conceptual thinker, generator of ideas, and a self-starter.
Most educators intuitively understand that the subject of Math is more involved than just memorizing tables and formulas. In fact, research shows that the whole brain is involved in math learning. Each area of the brain is actively involved with helping the student to learn the math lessons and concepts being taught. You could even say that it is more than a math subject; it is also an executive function subject.
During my first year of teaching, I was told that the first day of school is the most important. At the high school level, I should be firm and direct. I was cautioned not to use collaborative activities on the first day of school. I may unintentionally create an apocalyptic situation in my classroom as students would not listen to me, not be engaged, and become hard to manage since I didn’t know them yet. I listened for a few years until I had an epiphany...
Programming is a creative activity that any kid can engage in. Your child might not care about writing data processing algorithms, but they might enjoy creating games, programming music, designing websites, or just playing around with code.
With so much discussion and coverage on the topic, it might seem that if AI isn’t already being used in your classroom that you’re falling behind when it comes to technology. However, it is first important to understand what AI is and establish some guiding questions such as: What role does AI play in our daily lives? And more importantly, what role does it or will it play in the future of education and the future of work?
Although many teachers now have grown-up in the technology age, many traditional or “old-school” teachers are still not feeling equipped to teach in the classroom of the 21st century. Teachers that earned their certificates in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and even the 90’s may or may not feel prepared to operate and utilize today’s education equipment in the classroom.
From the replacement of chalkboards with smart boards to the use of iPads in the classroom with apps for learning in English, Math, Science, and many other areas, the advances in technology are taking hold in today’s classrooms. The question remains how do we educate our teachers on how to use the technology?