We talk a lot about developing a STEM culture, however it isn’t as simple as just tying in some careers and including more STEM-y content. Here are a few Successful STEM Strategies for building a culture in your classroom, school, and community.
STRATEGY: Finding the 4C’s
Throughout the year, students need to recognize the STEM skills they are using in everyday life. Research tells us that deliberately labeling the kind of thinking needed to be successful leads to better learning outcomes, especially with more complex problems (Swartz & McGuinness, 2014). We can’t keep assuming our students are getting these skills, because most aren’t. We know its ineffective to assume students understand content, this rings true with building STEM skills as well. In this strategy, students are asked to explicitly call out STEM skills in the world around them, in the classroom, and in their studies; linking the 4C’s to real life context.
Click here for the full strategy: S3 – Finding the 4Cs
Think about the story of your classroom and how you want it told. When visitors come to your room, they see only a small portion of your day and may not recognize the many STEMtastic things you and your students are doing. As Hamilton says, “Who tells your story?”
Student STEMbassadors help visitors see the big picture of your class while building their own communication skills! STEMbassadors welcome visitors and explain how your classroom supports development of the 4Cs of 21st century skills: collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking.
Click here for the full strategy: S3 – STEMbassadors
STRATEGY: “What Did You Do Today?”
Communication is one of the most important STEM skills we help our students develop. If students are unable to communicate well, their skills and knowledge may not be shared or may be misunderstood. Modeling ways to communicate effectively is just as important as modeling mathematical thinking or the writing process. This strategy which utilizes social media as a avenue to communicate learning, provides a fantastic opportunity to practice communication skills and provide families regular updates about what is going on in class.
Click here for the full strategy: S3 – What Did You Do Today?
Throughout the year, students need opportunities to see diverse people using STEM skills and STEM mindsets in their careers and everyday lives. Students need to see and hear real-world examples of how people use STEM effectively to make a difference. STEMspirations help students identify real people who are similar to themselves in our current society as STEM experts/heroes and connect those STEM experts to STEM Thinking Dispositions. Showcasing student innovators and young individuals as STEMspirations can also help students see that making an impact with these thinking sets, and skills can happen now, and they don’t have to wait until they’re older to inspire others to make a difference.
Click here for the full strategy: S3 – STEMspirations
STRATEGY: The STEM Parent Library
Parents often ask how they can help their students with STEM subjects at home. By establishing a STEM Parent Library, not only will parents have a way to support their students, they have an opportunity to bond with their children. Reading STEM themed books, either together aloud or chapter by chapter; a STEM culture will start to be built at home as well as at school.
A STEM Parent Library is a special place in your classroom (or school) that holds a library of books for parents to read at home with their students. Select books around the 4Cs (especially creativity), STEM careers, STEM heroes, and innovation and appropriate to your students, from picture books to novels. Include two copies of books for more advanced readers to encourage independent reading and discussion.
Click here for the full strategy: S3 – STEM Parent Library
STRATEGY: STEM Hero of the Month
Many students don’t make the connection that careers outside the traditional science, technology, engineering, and math fields often rely on STEM skills, too. Parents often ask for support to be more involved with STEM learning and don’t realize they engage in STEM every day.
Students’ parents and guardians may have careers that are not recognized as traditional STEM careers, but they still use related skills every day. When we highlight various careers as STEM-dependent, students are able to see STEM career possibilities all around them. When parents connect their current job to STEM skills, they begin to engage their students more are home.
Click here for the full strategy: S3 – STEM Hero of the Month