Over the next 6 years, the percentage of jobs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) is projected to dramatically increase. In order to maintain America’s global competitiveness and leadership in these fields, it is imperative that our students be proficient in STEM concepts.
We’ve found some incredible resources for teaching STEM to students of all ages.
1. Ms. Comer’s class studies neuroscience and brain injury by fashioning “helmets” for eggs. Her lesson walks students through the various components of scientific thinking when performing experiments.
It’s March, and you’ve probably established routines and procedures while simultaneously carving out more and more time for robust instruction.
To keep your momentum going, this DIY blog has a few ideas for incentive systems that can help motivate students to actively contribute to the cultivation of a strong learning environment.
Incentive systems complement your hierarchy system. They are meant to recognize and reinforce students for positively participating in your class, yet also allow students who are, shall we say, over-participating in the hierarchy system stay engaged in new ways. Your incentive system is also a concrete way to motivate and normalize the positive behavior in your classroom.
Here are three field-tested incentive systems with some details to help you decide which is ideal for your classroom.
When the calendar flips to March, it’s like Opening Day for education conferences. Whether you’re a teacher, a coach, an administrator, or an advocate, there’s a conference waiting for you. From nearly 20 years of going to conferences (I started even as a pre-service teacher), being a presenter, and planning several state-wide conferences myself, I’ve learned a thing or two about the whole experience. And I want to share some of my favorite tips so you can make the most of these great professional learning opportunities:
PLANNING FOR THE CONFERENCE
1. Prepare ahead of time as much as possible (but if you don’t have time, it’s really NOT one more thing to beat yourself up about). In other words, take the time to learn how the conference is organized: When are the keynotes or plenary sessions? (These are the big sessions for everyone to attend versus the smaller, more specialized breakout sessions.) Sometimes big conferences are spread out in many buildings and it’s good to know ahead of time “the lay of the land.” Many conferences will also provide session information ahead of time (on their website or even via conference apps you can download to your smartphone) so that you can map out your schedule before even getting there.
2. When choosing which sessions to attend, look at who is presenting the session titles. This is one of the first tips I learned about putting together a great itinerary. Many session titles will spin the overall conference theme (which makes perfect sense), but it’s the presenter that will bring the session to life. So take the time to read not just what will be discussed, but who will be discussing it, and you’ll find yourself happy with the choices you make.
The Teaching Channel Teams crew is heading to ASCD. This year’s ASCD conference theme is Every Learner: Someday is Now. Teams will be there showcasing our social and video-enabled professional development platform for schools, districts and education organizations.
Stop by our booth, number 1623. Say hello, see Teams in action, get some Teams goodies, and enter our raffle for a chance to win a SWIVL™.
The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) have raised the bar significantly for our students. For this blog I want to focus on CCSS Anchor Standard 10, as it demonstrates one way in particular that these standards have raised the bar. Standard 10 establishes a staircase of text complexity, and expects that by the end of each year students (beyond the primary grades) are reading on grade level texts independently and proficiently. (This is in response to research by ACT that shows the ability to read complex texts is what separates students who are college ready from those who are not.)
The authors of the CCSS call for all students to spend more time reading complex texts, even if they fall at a student’s “frustration” level. This has generated controversy because much of the literacy research and practice of the past 30 years has been focused on making reading easier for kids, by doing things like simplifying texts or matching students with texts that they can read independently. The idea of struggling in literacy has traditionally had a negative connotation, with readers who struggle being renamed as “striving” readers in recent years.
Is Struggle So Bad?
Literacy experts such as Tim Shanahan have recently begun to question the wisdom behind reducing opportunity for readers to struggle with complex texts. While it’s definitely possible to find a text that is simply too hard for a student, research indicates we’ve been going overboard. Before seeing what students can do with these texts, we have identified many as “frustration” level and off limits. We’ve been telling them what complex texts mean instead of helping them figure it out for themselves.
I love lesson planning. There is something magical about taking rigorous curriculum and making it accessible to all students. It’s an art and a science to blend your knowledge of subject matter, child development, and your students, and create a lesson for them. Regardless of how you plan now, I want you to know that Universal Design Learning (UDL) can help you do it better.
Universal Design for Learning is a framework that allows teachers to meet the needs of all learners in the classroom. With increasingly diverse populations of students, it’s never been more important to provide differentiated learning experiences in the same setting. Sometimes this variability may seem overwhelming when sitting down to plan lessons, but it doesn’t have to be. Regardless of how you plan now, I want you to know that UDL can help you do it better. Understanding UDL will help you to blend your knowledge of subject matter, child development, and your students, and create a lesson specifically for all of them.
How do I start?
The first thing you’ll want to do is examine the UDL Guidelines, a list of teaching strategies to consider before, during, and after planning. Checkpoint 8.1 reminds educators to “Heighten salience of goals and objectives” for students, but this is important for you as well. Knowing your goals and objectives before you plan is critical, so in addition to the Guidelines, have your Common Core or state standards handy. Choose your standard first, and then you’re ready to plan. That’s what standards-based design is all about.
The Iditarod, which stretches 975 miles from Anchorage to Nome, has all the hallmarks of a great story: difficult conditions, teamwork, perseverance in the face of obstacles, achieving an arduous goal… and dogs.
We’ve put together a list of resources dedicated to incorporating the Iditarod in your classroom. No matter what subject you teach, the Iditarod provides opportunities for real-life applications of course content.
The Iditarod starts on March 1st.
1. Mr. Hausman’s class makes real life predictions about the Iditarod using complex mathematical calculations in The Iditarod and Math.
More Lesson Ideas
Recently, I was at the Teacher of the Year Annual Meeting where Teaching Channel had the opportunity to talk with former National Teachers of the Year and this year’s crop of finalists. There were many valuable takeaways from these conversations, but the one thing that all of them consistently brought up was this: We cannot improve and grow in our practice in isolation; in order to continuously evolve, we must open our classroom doors and accept constructive feedback from coaches and peers.
Practicing What I Preach
With this in mind, two of the educators I most respect, Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey, sat down together and watched one of my classroom videos, When a Lesson Goes Wrong. Using Teaching Channel’s Notes feature, they were able to offer thoughtful and specific feedback while helping me learn from this experience. If you’ve never used Notes, it’s a great way to collaborate with anyone, anywhere.
Recently, I wrote a blog about 5 ways that we can learn through writing lesson plans. I also shared a resource collection of lesson and unit planning with 10 templates. We know that we can learn about lesson planning by writing out our plans and using templates, but we can also learn by reading the plans of other educators. Reading the plans of others gives us the opportunity to learn new ideas for great lessons. The resources in this blog contain tons and tons of completed plans to learn from.
COMPLETED LESSON/UNIT PLANS
Scholastic’s Lesson Plan Database hosts thousands of completed lesson and unit plans for grades pre-K-12 in all subjects.
Better Lesson, the National Education Association’s lesson plan site, features over 3000 Common Core-aligned lesson plans developed by teachers participating in the NEA’s Master Teacher Project.
More Lesson and Unit Plans
We often feel in awe after filming a great teacher in action. We wish we could award each and every one of them a medal of honor for opening up their classrooms to let us document their work. They trust that we believe — like them — that perfection isn’t the goal here. It’s all about growing our practice so we can help students find confidence and success in their academic lives.
When we went inside Suney Park’s classroom at Eastside College Preparatory School in East Palo Alto, California, we knew we were in for something special. Besides being brave, she is a teacher who wears her passion for learning on her sleeve. She is fun, engaging, thoughtful, and as committed to her own growth as she is to her students’.
Recently, we found out that Suney will be awarded a Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST), one of the nation’s highest honors for teachers. We’re so excited for her! As part of her application, Suney submitted her video series on a climate change lesson. Today it is still one of our most popular. And in her classroom practice videos, you can see how thoughtful she is in planning an engaging lesson that relates to real-world issues. Her video “Learn by Leading” shows how she helps students take ownership of their own learning. In “Scientists & Scholars: What’s in a Name?” we see how she creates an aspirational environment that’s grounded in mutual respect and academic expectations.