STEM Matters: 5 Facts to Share with Parents and Students

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

In the United States there are significantly more job openings in STEM-related than non-STEM occupations. At the same time, there is a shortage of qualified people to fill these careers opportunities. For the U.S. to continue to compete in a global economy and succeed in addressing our environmental challenges, we must do a better job of educating and engaging our students in STEM. It is more important than ever that all students have the foundational knowledge and skills needed to be an informed citizen and to pursue a career in STEM if they so choose.

Here are 5 things to know about the STEM field:

1. STEM is the fastest growing job market: Over the past 10 years, growth in STEM jobs was 3X greater than that of non-STEM jobs (source).3x-block

Looking to the future, the Economics and Statistics Administration and the Center on Education and the Workforce expect the field to increase by another 17 percent.
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Special EDition: DL Professional Learning Continues

The AUSL DL Professional Development Series is Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 2.49.40 PMstill going strong. Session topics this year have included Behavior Management, IEP Development, and Universal Design for Learning. In February, educators from 18 AUSL schools explored the 5 W’s of Progress Monitoring. Progress monitoring is a standardized method of formative assessment that tells us how well students are responding to instruction. The data collected allows practitioners to estimate rates of improvement over time, compare the efficacy of different forms of instruction, and determine when an instructional change is needed. At this session, participants learned how to establish a baseline, set goals, and create a plan to monitor individual student progress. Additionally, several useful sites to guide this process were shared, including the following:

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Special EDition: Behavior Junction, What’s your Function?

The AUSL Diverse Learning Professional Development Series is up and running! The October session, Understanding + Developing High Quality IEPs, was held on October 15 at Phillips High School. Participants attended one of three sessions focused on different aspects of the IEP. Click on the sessions below to access the presentation deck and related materials shared at each session.

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 3.43.28 PMThe next DL PD, Changing Challenging Behaviors: Conducting FBAs, will be offered on both November 19 and December 3 from 4:30-6:30pm at Phillips Academy High School. Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) is based on the understanding that all behavior is a form of communication and serves a function. Conducting an FBA is the process of collecting and analyzing data on unwanted behaviors to determine the purpose or function of the behavior. This is the first step toward developing interventions to teach and reinforce more positive behaviors.

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Announcing STEAM Fair 2016: Five Things You Need to Know

STEAM Fair Logo_2015

We are pleased to announce our 5th annual STEAM Fair!

Today’s job market is tough. Applicants significantly outnumber the available jobs. However, companies in the fields of science, technology, and engineering are actually struggling to find skilled workers and are looking abroad to recruit the expertise they need.

It is crucial that students develop the foundational knowledge and skills necessary to pursue whatever career path they desire. The school schedule must reflect the importance of science, engineering, and technology or we will limit ourScreen Shot 2015-11-04 at 11.10.40 AM students’ options for their future. Moreover, we need to do a better job of developing an informed citizenry that can make responsible decisions about the products they purchase, the food they consume, and the politicians for whom they vote. It follows that building our students’ scientific literacy can help to ensure their personal well being, as well as the welfare of their families, communities, and the interconnected world in which we live.

The projects students complete for the STEAM fair should not feel like “an extra thing to do.” The STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art as design, and mathematics) fair is a natural setting to promote learning of important academic content (i.e., CCSS and NGSS) and to support student development of 21st century skills, such as critical thinking a
nd problem solving—skills that are in high demand in today’s workforce!

To assist you with preparing your students for this year’s STEAM fair competition, I present you with…

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Special EDition: Diverse Learning PD Series

All teachers need ongoing opportunities to learn, collaborate, and access resources to most effectively support students. That’s why AUSL is offering a Diverse Learning Professional Development Series during the 2015-2016 school year! These sessions are open to ALL teachers, paraprofessionals, coaches, residents, administrators, and directors in the AUSL network. Registration is required in advance and attendees will receive CPDUs for participating.

Over 50 AUSL educators attended our first session, Catching Em’ Being Good: BMC for Diverse Learners, on September 17 at Phillips High School. Read more

Your Best Year of Science is Here! 4 Guides to Start MBI Today

If we keep doing the same thing we will continue to get the same results.

The time is NOW to transition to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Our students can’t wait! The Chicago Public Schools transition plan below has us at FULL implementation of NGSS next year:

CPS Transition Plan

Two of the key shifts with NGSS are the following:

  • Phenomena: K-12 students should be using science ideas to explain HOW and WHY science phenomena occur.
  • Science and Engineering Practices: K-12 students should be engaging in the 8 science and engineering practices (e.g., developing and using models, engaging in argument from evidence) in order to learn the content and explore the crosscutting concepts. The days of teaching an isolated unit about the scientific method are over (note: the scientific method does NOT provide an accurate vision of the work of scientists–read more here).

Model-Based Inquiry (MBI) is one way to address these two NGSS shifts:

MBI Overview

The following MBI “How To” Guides were developed by AUSL teachers for AUSL teachers. Over the last two years, the teachers that make up the AUSL Science Teacher Network Team have been studying NGSS and best practices for science teaching. They’ve tried out and refined these strategies in their own classrooms and through Lesson Study, and synthesized their learning in these guides and Tch AUSL videos.

MBI Guides:

  1. MBI Guide #1: How to Come Up With an Engaging Phenomenon to Anchor a Unit (TchAUSL VIDEO)
  2. MBI Guide #2: How to Engage Students in Developing and Using Explanatory Models (TchAUSL VIDEO)
  3. MBI Guide #3: How to Use Summary Charts in the Classroom (TchAUSL VIDEO)
  4. MBI Guide #4: How to Enhance Discourse in the Science Classroom (TchAUSL VIDEO)

Special thanks to the following staff for creating these resources:

  • Darrin Collins (Phillips Academy High School)
  • Deanna Digitale-Grider (Solorio Academy High School)
  • Kristel Hsiao (formerly at Solorio Academy High School)
  • Kat Lucido (Phillips Academy High School)
  • Nicole Lum (Orr Academy High School)
  • Sarah Rogers (formerly at Howe School of Excellence)
  • Alexa Young (Marquette School of Excellence)
  • Chris Bruggeman (AUSL Technology Coordinator)

Post your questions and the examples of MBI from your classroom below.

Welcome Back! Your Quick Guide to 4 NEW Features in TchAUSL

Last month marked the start of TchAUSL’s third year in providing a space for our members to share with and learn from the most amazing teachers in Chicago. I am excited and proud to host this space again for this school year and I hope that you consider TchAUSL an indispensable resource for inspiration and collaboration.

Our incredible partnership with Teaching Channel has brought on some terrific changes to the site for this school year. Here are four improvements that we hope will improve your experience. Read more

5 Ways to Get Better This Summer with TchAUSL

macbook-mockupLike you, I didn’t become a teacher to get summers off. I taught summer school for my first six years stopping only once I realized that there are a lot of benefits to the Restful Summer. Chief among those perks is the ability to get better at teaching at my own pace (and my own place!) Each summer I choose a new skill or two to learn and practice. When I was in the classroom, I read a lot about mathematics methods and lesson design and recently I have used the down time to work on my video editing. It’s completely unlike PD during the year when you’re too preoccupied with deadlines and lesson planning.

Now that summer is within reach, here are five ways that our site can help you become a better teacher, coach or administrator. Read more

Finish the Year Strong By Analyzing Student Writing

Setting aside time to discuss student writing can be hugely informative...and a lot of fun!

Setting aside time to discuss student writing can be hugely informative…and a lot of fun!

Every May, I find myself in need of a kickstart….a little shot of something to help me finish the school year strong and to carry the momentum of the mistakes I’ve made and the successes I’ve had into the fall.  Finally, after over a decade of working in schools, I’ve figured out what that kickstart needs to be or least what it should involve.

It needs to involve collaboration, reflection, and a changes in practice that are both quick wins that will affect students before school lets out in June and long term understandings that will affect students to come.  Analyzing student work with a really smart group of peers is the perfect combination of all those things.

And since none of us wants to reinvent the wheel (especially in May) here’s everything you need to know to replicate my favorite student work analysis protocol.  While I most recently used this protocol with network 9th and 10th grade history teachers to look at common DBQ essays, the beauty of it is that with a few tweaks it can be used across grade levels and disciplines. Read more

Explanatory Models: A Highly Effective Way to Support Science Learning, NGSS, and MBI

When you hear the word “model” you might immediately think of the small-scale 3-dimensional replicas of buildings used by architects or the typical animal cell model your teacher had you make when you were a student. In science, the term “model” refers to a siTypes of Models Anchor Chart_Hsiaomplified representation of a system that is used to make predictions or explanations for a phenomenon. Scientific models are “judged on both how simple they are and how well they can be used to explain and predict natural phenomena” (Jadrich & Bruxvoort, 2011, p. 12). Using this definition, the 3D cell model or a drawing of the rock cycle found in so many textbooks are NOT scientific models in and of themselves. They are simply representations (unless they are used to explain or predict). Memorizing the steps in a cycle or the parts of a cell are not the end goal in an NGSS classroom.

According to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), scientific models may include: diagrams, physical replicas, mathematical representations, analogies, and computer simulations (see NGSS Appendix F). But, again, keep in mind that they must be used to predict or explain phenomena.

In this blog, we focus on one specific type of modeling that is particularly helpful for supporting and deepening student learning: “explanatory models.”

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