Whether you’re new to a STEM classroom or you’ve been teaching in a STEM environment for a while, you may be seeking some tips and strategies to make your work easier and more effective. Don't worry, we've got you covered. Our compiled list reflects suggestions rooted in research and will provide guidance for those new to STEM and best practices for seasoned practitioners.
Well, here it is...
The top 10 tips for transforming STEM learning in your classroom
- Real World Connections: The best STEM activities are those that connect both to real-world problems, but also to the lives of students. In fact, one of the perks of STEM teaching is that you'll never really hear "How will I use this in real life?" from students. Real-world connections also add a sense of urgency and motivate students because they see themselves as collaborators and contributors to the academic community.
- Student Autonomy: Students are more likely to be engaged in activities in which they have options and can direct their own learning. Fostering intrinsic motivation is one of the hallmarks of creating lifelong learners. Providing student accountability assists in creating a space where students are invested and motivated.
- Self-Evaluation and Growth: This is a no-brainer for students. Any classroom following best practices will implement reflection as a process for students. However, it is also essential for teachers in STEM classrooms to evaluate their own proficiencies and effectiveness, improve their mastery of STEM domains, and be supported by professional development.
- Hands-on Learning: Students in effective STEM classrooms have ample opportunity to interact with hands-on materials and phenomena. This is the act of doing rather than just absorbing through rote-learning. Hands-on STEM education drives inquiry and makes learning more enjoyable for students and teachers.
- Engineering Design Process: One important element of STEM education is explicit instruction in the Engineering Design Process (EDP).
EDP’s five stages:
Ask — Identify a problem and ask questions and research information to better understand how to solve it or the approach needed to solve it
Imagine — Imagine the technology that would solve the problem
Plan — Establish a plan to create your technology
Create — Create technology and see how it measures up in solving the problemEvaluate & Improve — Collect and analyze data to see if the solution works. Evaluate strengths and weaknesses. Make any adjustments and test again
- Seamless Integration of STEM Domains: The integration of STEM domains (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) needs to be seamless and communicated in such a way that students don’t think of them as separate.
- Visual Support: Students can and should be supported by diagrams, illustrations, images, and other visual resources to reinforce concepts and procedures. Our world is steadily becoming digital, so students need familiarity with multiple mediums that will appeal to their varying learning styles.
- Questioning Strategies: Teachers need to utilize effective questioning strategies (Bloom’s) to spark curiosity and inquiry. Starting from the very basic understanding to synthesis– scaffold and build upon prior knowledge.
- Communication: In addition to doing STEM, students need opportunities to communicate, in multiple contexts and formats, their ideas, understandings, and opinions. Not only is this essential to develop inquiry and students' academic confidence, but this all also goes back to students feeling as though they are a part of a collective academic community, which enriches the STEM learning experience.
- Formative Assessment & Feedback: Teachers benefit from formative assessments when they use data to improve instruction, and students benefit from feedback when it helps them choose where to apply effort. This can be as simple as a thumbs-up before moving on to the next set of directions or an exit ticket to check for student understanding or mastery of concepts.
Interested in learning more? See how STEM learning can transform your classroom. Reach out to STEMscopes and learn more!