As a classroom teacher, you may have heard about the recent push to incorporate more computer science and coding into students’ lives. The problem could be—as it is with most teachers I know—that you feel vastly underqualified to teach anything in that realm. Coding seems like an intimidating subject and something that requires a lot of professional learning before jumping in.
When looking at the big picture of a school system, it can be daunting to think about effective ways to incorporate change. Systems are complex by nature, and education can be a hard one to change for a variety of reasons.
Now that Black History Month is here, you may be looking for ways to tie the celebration into your lessons. The National Education Association (NEA) offers an array of lesson plans for students of all ages that can help you integrate the subject into your classroom. And if you’re looking for EdTech tools that celebrate diversity and technology, check out these resources from Edutopia. You can also access lesson packs on MimioConnect®, our online educator community, with activities to help you celebrate African-American history all month long.
Demand for skilled workers in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math) is constantly growing, so how do we prime today’s students for the jobs of tomorrow? Educators can take advantage of a wide range of informative websites, innovative games and apps, and engaging products—all created with STEM learning in mind. We’ve compiled this list of our Top 25 resources to help you learn more about how to best prepare students for careers in STEM fields.
Our Troubled World Requires a Skilled STEM Workforce
Elements of STEM are integral to our nation’s economy – from health care to infrastructure needs, energy, and the environment. That’s why one of the most important tasks we have as educators is to encourage our students to consider careers in STEM. To get them to that point, they need to develop the ability to question and plan ways through experimentation to find viable solutions.
The Next Generation Science Standards were designed to be "rich in content and practice, arranged in a coherent manner across disciplines and grades to provide all students an internationally benchmarked science education." In practice, the NextGen Standards cover more than the science disciplines – the directives integrate all subject areas. The standards are so cross-curricular, you might sometimes think you’re reading a writing prompt for a language arts class or as a math story problem. Their nature makes them ideal for teaching in a project-based learning environment, where the goal is to synthesize curricular topics into one global learning experience. Nexgenscience.org provides a valuable resource on cross-curricular classroom sample tasks to get you started.
There are many ways to bring Science Standards into other disciplines and lessons. Think about presenting the science activities that are aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards as cross-curricular projects that will deepen student learning and engagement. For examples, consider the following 12 projects.
What is STEM?
The acronym stands for Science/Technology/Engineering/Math, and it typically is used when addressing education policy and curriculum choices in schools to improve competitiveness in science and technology development. STEM Curriculum Specialist Nancy Tsupros defines it more specifically as follows:
STEM education is an interdisciplinary approach to learning where rigorous academic concepts are coupled with real-world lessons as students apply science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in contexts that make connections between school, community, work, and the global enterprise enabling the development of STEM literacy and with it the ability to compete in the new economy. (Tsupros, 2009)
STEM was created to encourage a greater focus on science and math disciplines, in order to build a workforce equipped for the high-tech jobs in the future. Simply teaching math and science using technology cannot accomplish this. STEM is about changing the way we approach these disciplines. It’s about going beyond the classroom and prepping students for the real world.
Technology plays an important role in education, but teachers don't always have the time to learn how to use it. When I returned to teaching four years ago, one of my first initiatives was to bring technology into the classroom where it belongs. Technology is second nature to today’s students, and since they are immersed in it every day outside of the classroom, it is only natural to use those skills inside the classroom too.