Ed News: How Maker Education Supports English Language Learners In STEM

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This week in education news, President Trump proposes merging the Education Department with the U.S. Department of Labor; new report found that a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded initiative did not improve student performance; teacher shortage becoming a growing concern in Hawaii; Career and Technical Education Bill approved by the Senate education committee; Mattel unveils new Robotics Engineer Barbie; California budget allocates nearly $400 million for science and math education, but not teacher training; NCTM issues a call to action to drastically change the way math is taught so that students can learn more easily; and a new study shows that eighth-grade science teachers without an educational background in science are less likely to practice inquiry-oriented science instruction.

How Maker Education Supports English Languages Learners In STEM

What is the best way to teach STEM to students who haven’t mastered English? Some educators believe the answer lies in maker education, the latest pedagogical movement that embraces hands-on learning through making, building, creating and collaborating. Read the article featured on Gettingsmart.com.

Trump Officially Proposes Merging U.S. Departments of Education, Labor

President Donald Trump wants to combine the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Labor into a single agency focused on workforce readiness and career development. But the plan, which was announced during a cabinet meeting last week, will need congressional approval. That’s likely to be a tough lift. Similar efforts to scrap the nearly 40-year-old education department or combine it with another agency have fallen flat. Read the article featured in Education Week.

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What Does 3-Dimensional Space Look Like

When transitioning my classroom instruction to three dimensional learning, I decided to start with one or two areas in each unit or lesson set where I felt the most need. I was already purposeful in selecting activities that I carefully sequenced to support student learning of concepts and big ideas, but I expected students to make connections using crosscutting concepts without explicit instruction. In addition, I was not using phenomena as a vehicle for explanation, but assumed that once students learned the concepts, they would be able to apply them to explain the everyday phenomena that they encountered. I also knew that the way in which I used models in my classroom needed to be rethought. For that, there was no better place to start than my space science lessons.

I felt very comfortable with the activities I used in my space science instruction. Most of them were models that I had been using in my classroom and with girls at Girl Scout events for many years. Traditionally, teachers have used models in space science instruction to make the concepts and processes that are difficult more accessible to students. In my space science lessons, I used a variety of models – physical models, drawings, diagrams, and even kinesthetic models to illustrate science ideas for students. There is nothing wrong with these types of models and they are an important resource for classroom use; however, I was using them very narrowly thus missing important components for sense making. I was not effective at making sure that students were using the models to develop their ideas or make connections between their ideas and the phenomena. I realized that I needed to take a step back and analyze how students were using the practice of developing and using models in my classroom. How were they using models to connect their ideas to phenomenon and how was I going to better facilitate that?

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Digital Technology in the Early Childhood Classroom: When is a child ready?

Head shot of Carrie Lynne DraperGuest blogger Carrie Lynne Draper shares resources and discusses the use of digital technology in early childhood programs. Carrie Lynne Draper, M.Ed, is the Executive Director of Readiness Learning Associates, a STEM Readiness organization, in Pasadena, CA,  growing children’s learning processes using science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Focusing on the development of scientific dispositions through STEM and pedagogical design of equity-oriented STEM learning environments, Carrie has worked in early childhood STEM education for more than thirty years as a classroom teacher, program administrator and university instructor. As a long time NSTA member and past board member of NMLSTA, she  is frequently asked to present at national and state meetings on early learning STEM, NGSS and STEM Excellence. 

Welcome Carrie!


Logo of the Fred Rogers CenterThis summer, Fred Rogers’ family keeps the legacy of Mister Rogers Neighborhood alive with a new documentary. Fred believed that the foundation of every child’s healthy development is the power of human connection. “Whether we are parents, educators, media creators, or neighbors, each of us has the unique and enormous potential to nourish children’s lives with positive interactions,” a statement from the Fred Rogers Center. I believe this is certainly true for STEM curriculum writers and teachers.

 As I work in early childhood classrooms I frequently hear teachers ask, “What would Mr. Rogers think about the use of digital learning and how would I know if a child is really ready?” Some refer to today’s early childhood students as the “swipe and scroll generation.” In recent years children have experienced increased exposure to interactive technologies such as computers, tablets and smart phones.  With a vast increase in mobile devices, it is obvious that we need to think about our students as being technologically literate and confident about their future. Many have proposed that meaningful exposure to technology through mass media and other interactive platforms may help young children consequently leaving STEM education, cognitive and developmental psychology, computer science, and human development experts wonder, “What should be our digital technology philosophy in early childhood programs?” And how Two children drawing on paper, outside on a sunny day.do we find the balance between children using 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional learning activities? How does a teacher know when a child is really ready to use digital devices in the classroom? And where does a teacher find trusted resources? There’s no question that children are fascinated about how things work and are made, and are ready to problem solve. And we know that children thrive when they can ask, imagine, plan, and create and interact with the world around them.  Continue reading …

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Global Thinking Inside and Outside the Classroom

Dynamic Equilibrium. These two words represent what is essential in teaching Earth science: the idea that forces are constantly working against one another, but often do so in ways that nearly counteract one another.

In a river, deposition and erosion, as central concepts, can be used to explain a range of phenomena, such as meandering rivers and the richness of floodplain soils. For all of the crust being created at mid-ocean ridges, an almost equivalent amount is being destroyed in subduction zones. Stars are constantly affected by the equilibrium of a fusion reaction tearing them apart while gravity tries to shrink stars under its own immense mass.

In all of these situations, something approaching dynamic equilibrium is typical, but also some very interesting phenomena happen when equilibrium is no longer met. Indeed, Earth science offers so many examples of the NGSS Crosscutting Concept of Stability and Change, yet it is so easy to consider it as a law of averages: If the end result is close to zero, then why do the individual forces matter?

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Cereal to Stream Tables: Putting Stability and Change in Students’ Hands

Stability and Change is one of the seven Crosscutting Concepts (CCs) that can be difficult to convey in a lesson. Other CCs like Patterns, Cause and Effect, and Systems and System Models can be easily incorporated in the structure of a lesson. With a little planning, Stability and Change can be frequently demonstrated in a lesson.

Science teachers must remember that Stability and Change is all about conditions and factors: what condition(s) and factors affect stability and lead to a change. This article will focus on weathering and deposition of rock during the rock cycle and how Stability and Change can be incorporated in class discussion following the lesson activities.

The rock cycle is a slow process, but it is all about Stability and Change. During the rock cycle, rocks are ever-changing, but because these changes happen slowly, it can be difficult for students to observe and understand them. To “speed up” geologic time, use household materials to simulate rocks to help students discover the factors and conditions affecting weathering of rock in the rock cycle. 

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Media literacy in early childhood

Media literacy

First grader's drawing of a smiling dinosaur standing on 4 legs (2 legs visible).“Dinosaurs aren’t alive anymore” is a statement that may be spoken by young children as both a statement and a question. Do they really know that dinosaurs are no longer alive? Do they use evidence to support this idea? I asked small number of educators and parents to discuss with their children and yes, the children are certain that dinosaurs are not alive any more and they learned this from trusted sources—at school, from a sibling, and from books. Children may see images of dinosaurs in books, cartoons and documentaries about dinosaurs. They may view large models at museums and play some of the many apps featuring dinosaurs on digital devices. (There were almost no apps when I searched for “isopod” or “pillbug,” one of my favorite animals!) Some children become dinosaur experts as they learn from many resources and remember information about specific species and time periods. How do adults help children figure out what information is based on scientific research and physical evidence and which aspects of what they view may be embellished for entertainment? 

Making sense of any kind of media resource means being able to understand what we want to get from it, and the intentions of those who created the resource among other goals. Many thanks to the Technology and Young Children interest forum of the National Association for the Education of Young Children for holding Quarterly Meet Ups online, and bringing resources and conversation about “media literacy” to the attention of early childhood educators. In the May/June meet-up and Q&A follow-up session, many aspects of media literacy were discussed based on a talk by Faith Rogow, PhD. Rogow, founding President of the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE), and founder of Insighters Educational Consulting. Continue reading …

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Meet the 2018 NSTA/ NCTM STEM Teacher Ambassadors!

We are proud to be working with 2018 NSTA/NCTM STEM Teacher Ambassadors, who are here at NSTA’s headquarters this week participating in an intensive communications, media, and policy training designed to expand the classroom teacher voice at the local, state, and national levels. These dynamic teacher leaders bring a variety of experience and expertise and will lend their unique perspectives in support of STEM education.

So, who are these STEM teacher superstars? We asked if they could be a STEM superhero, what would be their superpower? Read on to find out what they had to say.

Nathan Auck 

Utah Department of Education 

“If I were a STEM superhero, my superpower would be the power of convergence. I’d be able to nimbly and effectively empower disparate groups of students to work together in exploring the insights that exists at the intersections of the study of math, science, engineering and technology.”

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Within 20 Years, These 8 Inventions Could Become Reality

Imagine if you were asked what technology would look like in two decades. Through our ExploraVision science competition, that very same question has fueled over 400,000 young minds in the U.S. and Canada for 26 years. This year, nearly 5,000 students from Kindergarten through 12th grade imagined ways to solve or treat common issues in agriculture, healthcare, energy storage and much more.

For over two decades, Toshiba America and the National Science Teachers Association have joined forces through ExploraVision to encourage the next generation to think big and have a role in shaping a better future. We believe that investing in early STEM education and project-based learning can foster a lifelong passion for innovation that leads to scientific breakthroughs.

From June 7-8, we gathered all eight ExploraVision winning teams in Washington, D.C. to exhibit their forward-thinking projects to elected officials, members of the media, and Toshiba Corp executives. From finding a potential cure for Cystic Fibrosis to increasing the efficiency of electric cars, this year’s national ExploraVision winners truly proved themselves to be the future generation of STEM changemakers.

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A lecture about lecturing

How can you check for understanding during a lecture to make sure it is engaging?
—S. Ohio

Although I hated lecturing, I often felt the need to do so, particularly in advanced grades. My advice is to keep direct instruction short and avoid mindless note-taking. Some things I can suggest:

  • Have students complete anticipation guides, a reading, KWL (Know, Want-to-Know, Learned) chart, or hand-in questions related to the topic.
  • Break up the lecture into smaller segments and have them complete an activity between the segments. As a student teacher my cooperating teacher taught me that a student’s attention span in minutes is equal to their grade level!
  • Hand out Cloze-format notes (blanks where key words or phrases occur) that the students fill in as the lecture progress
  • Have ‘’students respond to specific “buzz words” during the lecture to receive a small reward such as stickers or a treDevelop a mantra for the big idea of the lecture that everyone chants at intervals: “Space is really big!” ”Everything is made up of atoms!” “Living things need energy!”
  • Ask students to hold up small whiteboards or paper with happy, sad or neutral emojis indicating their understanding. An alternative is holding up a green, yellow or red card small enough to cup in their hand.
  • If the technology is available, use polling software to get responses as you go.

Don’t overlook the importance of note-taking! Use a graphic organizer like the Cornell system to help them learn.

Hope this helps!

Image credit: muhammed_hassan via pixabay

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Ed News: Insights Into Early STEM Learning

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This week in education news, Project Lead The Way unveils a new end-of-course assessment that will test students soft skills as well as their knowledge of STEM subjects; despite a relatively steady rise in per-pupil funding, real teacher salaries rose just 7 percent since 1970, and have been largely flat since 1990; Iowa allocated $1 million to train computer science teachers; evolution and climate change skeptics lose battle over science textbooks in Florida; four senators challenge funding for global warming education programs; California legislative committee approves a bill that would provide teaching candidates willing to commit to teaching science or math curriculum for four years a state grant of $10,000; and 82% of teachers believe technology enhances learning.

STEM-Focused Program Will Test High-Schoolers’ Soft Skills

Project Lead The Way announced its new End-of-Course Assessment, the first of its kind to measure high school students’ mastery of the skills most critical for college and career success — including problem solving, critical and creative thinking, collaboration, communication, and ethical reasoning and mindset — in addition to their knowledge of STEM subjects. Read the brief featured in Education DIVE.                                                                                           

Average Teacher Salary Is Below The Living Wage In Half The Country, Report Says

In more than half the states, the average teacher is not making a living wage, a new report says. In this report, researchers at the nonprofit Education Resource Strategies found that despite a relatively steady rise in per-pupil funding, real teacher salaries rose just 7 percent since 1970, and have been largely flat since 1990. Since the 2008 recession, per-pupil funding and real teacher salaries, both adjusted for inflation, have declined in most states. Read the article featured in Education Week.

‘It’s OK To Fail:’ How Indiana Teachers Are Rethinking STEM For The Real World

In Kraig Kitts’ biology classes, it’s OK to fail. “That’s science. That’s the nature of it,” said Kitts, a science teacher at Center Grove High School. “Sometimes we don’t know. As teachers, we have a lot of pressures that everything works, every time, 100 percent.” This is the message Kitts wants to send to his students. It’s also the message he wants to relay to other Indiana teachers. Kitts is the mastermind behind the Lilly Experience for Teachers in STEM, a two-day workshop for teachers of STEM designed to redefine the field by connecting math and science curriculum to real-world applications. Read the article featured in Chalkbeat.

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