Proud to link up with I'm Lovin' Lit for Thursday Throwdown this week on making learning more interactive!
I’ve added some STEM activities to our fourth grade science class this year. Kids are loving it! Actively engaged, building stuff, taking stuff apart, creating, chatting, creating, building, chatting. Did I mention chatting?
Their prototypes in most cases were pretty good, yet as I traveled around visiting with each group, I knew we could do better. I started brainstorming about how each kid in every group could be actively involved and contributing the entire time, and how there could be individual accountability in each group.
This was the beginning of my STEM Journal.
Each student works on one during our STEM time while they continue to work as a team. They share ideas, but those ideas must be recorded. Now the chatting has a scientific focus. They interact with each other and with the hands-on materials, but by adding the STEM Journal, they now interact with their ideas and plans. They can refer to their drawings as they discuss revisions to their original plan. The quality of the talk in STEM class has changed from “play talk” to more serious curricular talk. The quality of the creations has changed also.
So far, the journals have added so much to our STEM project work. Now each student has something tangible on which to base a grade for the project. I really believe that we have elevated the typical STEM activity from “sandbox science” (just kind of playing around with science and engineering concepts) to something worthwhile and based on standards.
Another addition to our STEM work this year has been introducing my kids to the Jason Project, an amazing online resource for science education. They have an interactive live broadcast just about every week (starting up again on January 6) with a career STEM scientist! We submit questions on their site and short video clips (through youtube) of questions the students have for the scientist, and the scientist answers during the broadcast. I’m pretty sure that not many teachers are taking advantage of this amazing opportunity yet because 11 or 12 of our videos have been featured during each broadcast so far. You can visit their website to see some previous broadcasts to get an idea of how it goes, and get ready for January 16!
Although my students are lovin’ seeing themselves on TV every week, we’d love to have some more kids involved!
Planning to keep stepping up the STEM challenges this year as we address the new standards in science practice!
Eight Science and Engineering Practices for grades 4-6
Eight Science and Engineering Practices for grades k-3