how do we do this "stem & PBL" thing, that we keep hearing about?
The BIE... the Buck Institute, has some great PBL Activities that teachers can search for, based on content, target and goals and the newly organized NEA STEM Site is rad also, for the 10 Best STEM Resources! These would be a great start for STEM Activity-Seekers and I am including our STEM crew on this, to tap into, for some ideas when needed and when looking to drop in some fresh, new project pathways. If you ever have any questions about the projects that have been selected and completed, to be shared at our Student-Showcase: Gallery Walk Days, please don't ever hesitate to contact staff members from the Waukesha STEM Academy... they are the true leaders who can help you break down these activities and help get you started.
We also have our organized docs. for our STEaM-PBL CapStone Projects and other pertinent documents, contained in a One-Stop Shop (thanks to our Instructional Coach, Mr. Eric Hill) and these are some of the amazing offerings & tools/apps, that students are able to choose from, along with also having the opportunity to begin creating a Student Proposal... always an option for those who want to dig a bit deeper and explore a passion project(s), based on unique interests.
There are also the STEaM-PBL Frameworks included, that our students are required to complete at Saratoga (our 6-8 campus) [collaboratively- with norms], based on their timelines... goals... supplies... targets being addressed... production-ideas... check-points... reflective questions for feedback and other design-brief facets, which help grow our students into young foremen and forewomen like those working for a company or start-up business, who are able to dream... plan... sketch and map out... organize a supply list... manage a budget... create a project or design digital productions... articulate & teach others... reflect... make better... repeat. The Design Loop runs strong through these hallways and while we always encourage a bit of autonomy amongst our staff, this is one document that we have stayed pretty tried and true with, in order to keep the framework-consistency strong and staff working with the same frameworks and language, when working on CapStone Projects across the whole site... really helps with quality-control and consistent expectations of the WHY... pieces of the WHAT... but, it's the HOW, that has been left to roam freely and head down several creative pathways of expression and demonstration of skills.
This should be enough to put some fuel into the tank and start up the STEM engine, but remember... for every project, comes an equal or larger responsibility on the behalf of the student(s) to CREATE & SHARE THAT GREATNESS, once wonderful ideas begin to take shape and supplies start shuffling in, alongside drills, 3-D Printers and saws (safety first!). To this end, Eric has also organized and shared out a Resource Document/Spreadsheet, with many great tools, to help take production to the next level. Out of the enormous list, I would wager to guess that each of us could find quite a few tools that would align very well with the projects our students are working on... or the students may even find a better tool (which happens frequently), that we end up adding to this catalog of wonderful approaches, that we utilize to make the huge transition from NOT JUST CONSUMING, but heading to the TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN... to EMBRACE CREATION... in a STEM- or PBL-environment. You can't go wrong there and quite often, these are the game-changing moments that we are seeing consistently, over the past 5+ years.
Remember, that much of what we are hearing around the state of education lately, focuses on a simple philosophy... keeping the main thing, the main thing, while providing plentiful opportunities for our students to express their voice and choice via something they may take a deep interest in:
... what are you going to learn and why is it important to you as a student/group of learners?
... how are you going to learn and gather research thats supports your knowledge surrounding that focal point/topic?
... how are you going to demonstrate and produce evidence of ownership of these topic(s) (competency-driven model), prior to moving on to the next level of challenging learning experiences?
... what type of feedback is provided at a staff-to-peer... peer-to-peer... parent-to-peer (mom/dad/son/daughter) and other various methods of arriving at 360 degrees of feedback?
... what are next steps for each student, once mastery has been achieved? We don't want to go into this game with a one-and-done mentality... Rome wasn't built in one day and some/all students won't necessarily master some pretty rigorous and real-life topics in their first big CapStone Project, so thinking about Deep Support-Systems, as well as Extension-Opportunities, is always a great plan (this used to be focused solely for GT students and it now feels as if we are at a point where all students should be able to experience this feeling and the ability to dig deeper, when they're ready).
These formulas for success, should be a great start for our amazing teacher-leaders, who are having a blast in their learning spaces each and every day, with excited learners!
Enjoy and have a super Week... Keep Rockin'!