STEM’s interdisciplinary, problem-based curriculum includes a focus on real-world applications.
Integration of STEM Disciplines
Our teachers develop unit plans that engage and challenge our students, preparing our students for the 21st century. They begin with a clear definition of a unit’s theme. Being critically aware of the related standards of the unit, what curricular resources are available, and the multiple disciplines associated with STEM, it allows them to fully invoke the concept of an interdisciplinary learning process for VWCS students.
During the teacher’s planning time, they ask themselves, “What is the real-world problem for which the unit is prompting a response?” Bearing in mind the knowledge and skills students will need to acquire and implement throughout the unit, teachers collaborate with other grade-level teachers, or vertically-associated grade-level teachers, to develop ideas for a solution.
Beyond STEM Discipline
Teachers not only structure their lessons to incorporate the STEM disciplines, they go beyond that by keenly discussing different career fields. This helps students understand the importance of being able to integrate 21st-century skills in the future. For example, in the case of the study on resources, the Kindergarten students took a pre- and post-assessment on a career field related to their STEM unit project. Teachers then invited an expert in a related career field to speak with the students about that career and provide feedback on the project solution the students developed.
In order to provide teachers with ongoing support, STEM lead teachers and the STEM Coordinator have developed a STEM Growth Rubric. The rubric breaks down the STEM learning expectations into three parts: knowledge, skills, and competencies. It provides useful guidance for teachers and administrators on developing activities that support student preparations for their life after school. Students who participate in field trips, college visits, and other off-campus activities learn how STEM affects them now, in their future educational pursuits, and in their potential career choices.
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