I’ll admit it…when I was first told that I have to implement STEM in my classroom, I was so afraid.
It wasn’t until I jumped in to really figure out what I needed to do in order for my students to understand the Engineering Design Process.
Complete the challenge before your students.
When you do a STEM Challenge, one of the most important things you can do is complete the challenge before your students. By doing this, you are going to be a few steps ahead of the game when they complete the challenge. You will know what speed bumps they may run into. You will also discover some misconceptions that need to be addressed before each challenge.
Prepare the questions you will ask beforehand.
Preparing questions to ask throughout the challenge is key. You could even write the questions you think of while doing the challenge before your students complete the challenge.
If you use “Once Upon a STEM” You will see we have already provided you with the questions to ask your students before, during, and after each challenge.
Engage your students with readalouds to pair with each challenge.
If you can spark your students’ interest with literature, you are totally winning with STEM! Students will be able to conceptualize the skills needed to understand and solve problems during the lesson.
When we created “Once Upon a STEM” we did all the work for you by pairing readalouds with each challenge! You will find a suggested readaloud along with a list of YouTube links if you didn’t have time to check the books out in the library.
Find ways to integrate STEM activities across the curriculum.
You can integrate STEM into virtually any subject during your day. If you have limited time in the classroom, find ways where a STEM lesson would fit.
Emphasize the steps of the Engineering Design Process
While you are going through the Engineering Design Process make a BIG deal when you transition through each step. Modeling and using metacognition is key as you eventually want your students to be able to think and solve problems with their peers.
One thing that truly helped me to implement STEM in my classroom every day was clearly stating the Engineering Design Process and pointing out the steps as we go through each STEM Challenge.
By knowing the Engineering Design Process and intentionally going over this process as we go through each challenge eliminated any fear of STEM challenges.
I would like to help guide you through a STEM Challenge using my completely FREE Engineering Design Process Posters.
Allow your students to collaborate in teams.
By collaborating in teams, you are showing your students how to work with other people who might think differently and have different strengths and weaknesses. This will prepare them for the real world.
Connect the activity to real-world problems.
Another way to prepare your students for the real world is to actually connect some of these concepts to real world problems. This makes the task at hand more meaningful for your students, and motivates them to solve the problem.
Encourage home learning with extension activities for caregivers.
Anytime we can encourage caregivers to get involved, everyone is a winner. I like to add a home connection link to all my STEM Challenges so my students’ learning can be stretched! I usually send this home on Friday.
Highlight key vocabulary and model it throughout the lesson.
When you highlight key vocabulary and model it in a way that students can use it in a sentence, they are more likely to use that vocabulary during the lesson. By encouraging students to use the key vocabulary words, you are going to get more rich discussions and a deeper understanding of the lesson or challenge you are teaching.
If you are needing more meat to your STEM lessons, and you are a primary teacher, we may have a resource that will be helpful to you! We created this because so many teachers were needing more guidance and materials for implementing STEM in the elementary classroom.
“Once Upon a STEM” includes:
• 3 Illustrated Stories of Varying Difficulty for Differentiation
• Teacher Guide
(Challenge Question, Coordinating Books Suggestions, Materials Suggestions, Questions/Accessing Prior Knowledge Suggestions, What to do Before/During/After)
• Vocabulary Cards
(Challenge Question, Vocabulary Words, Materials Listed, Planning Tools, Writing Activity, Math Problem, and an Extension Activity)
Want to try it first? We’d love to share a challenge with you! Try out our completely free “Making Paper Airplanes” Challenge today!