STEM Learners 1.3
1.3 - Students are empowered to personalize and self-direct their STEM learning experiences supported by STEM educators who facilitate their learning.
BMSA's strength for Indicator 1.3 is allowing students the opportunity to personalize and self-direct their STEM learning based on their own personal interests. Students have a variety of opportunities to Wonder, Investigate, Share and Extend these ideas starting with daily wonder questions that are posted on a school Wonder board. Wonder questions are read during daily announcements and students are encouraged and allowed the opportunity to answer the questions while also citing their source for information. Additionally, several classroom teachers offer opportunities for students to self-select and direct their own learning through a variety of projects including:
- Independent Projects: Students who are interested in an independent project complete a proposal to their teacher explaining their interest in a STEM related topic. Plans include a description of the project (Science Inquiry, Technology Investigation, Engineering Project, Math Data Collection, Informational Research or other), how they will go about investigating, sharing and extending their learning with others.
- Genius Hour: Genius hour is very similar to Independent Projects with the exception that an entire class participates in genius hour on a weekly basis. Students have the opportunity to self-direct their learning based on their interests and share out to their classmates.
- Opportunities to Share at Assemblies: Some students have opportunities to share out their W.I.S.E. Way investigations (Wonder-Investigate-Share-Extend) in front of the school at monthly assemblies. Students who are part of the Student Leadership Team regularly share out at these monthly assemblies. Other presentations are selected by classroom teachers and/or the principal as they present themselves by the students.
BMSA has consistently offered a wide range of after school clubs that provide additional opportunities for students to personalize and self-direct their learning. These clubs are facilitated by STEM Educators, parents and volunteers. Clubs include:
- Chess Club
- Coder’s Club
- Tech Club
- K-2 and 3-5 Engineering Clubs
- Robotics Club
- STEM Racing Club
- Student Leadership Team
It is our philosophy that students who develop a sense of responsibility for their own learning are prepared to master rigorous academic content, think critically and analytically, communicate effectively, and collaborate productively. To build self-directed learners, teachers frequently serve as facilitators who provide guidance, critical thinking questions, and support for students.
Self-directed Learners at Barbara Morgan STEM Academy
Scientist of the Week
Students in our primary grades have an opportunity to share each week as the Scientist of the Week in their classroom. Students choose their own experiment or demonstration to share with the class, and complete a short report explaining the concept in kid-friendly terms. After completing their demonstration, other students write about what they observed and questions they have.
Genius Hour is a time set aside in the class for students to take ownership in their learning to study their passion on a new idea or skill. Genius Hour sparks curiosity and encourages life-long learning, imagination, perseverance, self-awareness and adaptability. Students work at school each week for a set amount of time with the teacher serving as a Guide on the Side. Some students also chose to continue their work at home. Final projects are shared with family and other community members at a Genius Hour Showcase.
Students have the opportunity to extend their learning through Independent Projects. Students are required to submit a proposal of the work and topic they would like to research. Once submitted, the teacher will approve, deny or request more information before approving the project. Students who are approved, work on their projects after completing daily tasks and assignments. Completed projects are shared with the class and often uploaded into digital notebooks or class websites to be shared with families.
Sharing at Assemblies
Students working on Independent Projects, Genius Hour or specific Wonder Questions are often invited to share their Wonders and Investigations with the school at monthly assemblies. Projects highlighting real world problems, such as "The Story of Milk," demonstrate how students use their skills and knowledge taught at BMSA to make real world, meaningful connections and becoming contributing citizens of our world. In addition, the Student Leadership team often presents W.I.S.E Way activities and/or shares character related videos the school is currently working on at monthly assemblies.