Magazine article The Learning Professional

Intentional Connections Help Bring Rigorous Content to Life

Magazine article The Learning Professional

Intentional Connections Help Bring Rigorous Content to Life

Article excerpt

In our district, we have realized the importance of creating intentional connections within and beyond our buildings so that everyone has the capacity to bring rigorous content to life and offer meaningful learning experiences for all students. These connections have served us well in achieving our goal of having every student experience STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) integrated throughout the math, science, and elective classrooms. Here are the connections we made and the lessons we learned along the way.

• Bring key stakeholders together to construct a working definition and vision for STEM in your school or district.

Stakeholders must include teachers, administrators, school board members, students, and parents. It is important that the group reach consensus throughout the process and leverage numerous resources to build a deep understanding of how STEM should look once fully implemented.

• Pay attention to the process of change.

Although the "S" and the "M" of STEM are firmly in place for school systems, using technology as a tool and bringing in the engineering design process can be a challenge.

• Provide professional learning for teachers, administrators, and school board members.

School-based administrators need to have a working understanding of how bringing together the four components of STEM unfold within the classroom. This should include a focus on how teachers engage within a teaching and learning cycle. In our district, we use the cycle of plan, teach, monitor, and adjust. The intentionality of this cycle can help administrators work closely with teachers.

Teachers are the most critical element in achieving the integration of STEM. My district has created cohorts of teachers working closely with an instructional coach to accomplish this task. Teachers attend classes during the summer to deepen their understanding of both the content and the pedagogy of each of the disciplines. …

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