STEM is a mindset, a way of thinking, and Patti Duncan says there are a lot of misconceptions of what STEM really is. STEM requires kids to think, be independent workers who can also collaborate, but skill sets are important and need to be learned in a relevant way. That way to integration within the STEM movement.
It’s not walking from one place to another, and because schools are compartmentalized, that’s how students see learning: disconnected. Learning is an assembly line within a class, making it difficult to apply their learning to real world situations. If students only engage in repeated problems, they learn no life skills. Memorizing a pattern does not mean that a students understands the content. Rote is not learning.
Because teachers tend to keeps their spaces “theirs,” students will relate different rules from different classes but they cannot see the whole big picture, so teachers are often pitted against each other. Concept and reasons for rules need explanation and cannot exist in a vacuum. Content must exist in a different integrated environment. And the best way to integrate learning experiences is through Project-Based Learning.
Real-life classroom experiences teach students respectful working with others while still maintaining your own individual voice. Time management, time on task, and assuming responsibility occurs when teachers explain how to scope out a sequence of skills for PBL and CBL. Often the first learning experience is failure when we do not model learning expectations and teach real-life skills. Teachers can embrace Project-Based Learning is a vehicle for engaging students as creators and collaborators with teachers as facilitators and students owning their learning experiences in a collaborative environment. To explore PBL, watch this short video.
Patti notes that sharing is the most important part of PBL but it is often overlooked. Sharing can take many forms, but if students were tasked with answering an overarching essential question, then their project is the answer, coupled with their sharing. National standards for CORE content for science are not rote, and assessments attached to core concepts are project driven. You can find Patti’s Top Ten Tools for STEM here. Jennifer Dormen’s PBL pre-and-post webinar resources can be found here. Dorman’s additional resources can be found on Grazing for Digital Natives.
The best practice for PBL is taking whatever resources you find and making it your own. A good source is Sedl, because resources for emerging learners of the English language can be accommodated because this site places Spanish side-by-side to English. Edzone is a great site because it integrates multiple disciplines. MSTeacher gears PBL to middle school learners. A list of resources with links make this site great for teachers, especially those who want to connect math to science. Neat site!
Collierschools is a great site but Patti said we must be fair to the students and not make them guinea pigs for what we want to try. We need intelligent design that involves students as creators and sharers as they learn and collaborate. Patti concluded that as a teacher she has talked to many science teachers, but she thinks she should shift her audience to math teachers because kids can’t make connections to the real world. Do kids see geometry everywhere in the real world? Probably not. This subject area really needs to focus on making math real to students, and it isn’t that difficult to do. Science, technology, mathematics, and engineering are interconnected, but math is at the center of all courses. Easy way to get math on board: Dr. Lodge McCammon. For a delightful entry to the world of PSV (Paper Slide Videos) with math and music, check his channel.
To see an exhaustive list of Patti’s resources check: tinyurl.com/duncanstemresources (but give this link to the end of the day). Bravo, Patti. Great job!