STEM Educators 1.7
1.7 - STEM Educators collaborate as an interdisciplinary team to plan, implement, and improve integrated STEM learning experiences.
A strength for Indicator 1.7 is the opportunity for all grade levels and specialists to collaborate weekly with an established agenda centered around STEM expectations and instructional planning. Teachers in each grade level also have daily common planning time that further supports collaboration in all academics including the integration of other subjects into our Science PBL’s. During this time, teachers discuss best instructional practices needed to plan STEM lessons, units and assessments. Lessons are differentiated to meet the needs of all students and include purposeful planning to supplant ELA text. In addition, BMSA has made it a point to ensure vertical alignment of our science PBLs to improve our integrated STEM learning experiences for students as they progress through each grade level. Common PBL and unit planning templates ensure consistency across grade levels.
Regular collaboration with our STEM Specialist regarding additional services and/or support outside of the classroom is another important process that all teachers take advantage of. Working closely with our STEM Specialist is an important step which supports projects that are not able to be completed in the classroom or need additional support. STEM collaboration has also been consistently incorporated into our music program with our Music Specialist organizing grade level music programs centered around the science units taught within that grade.
A final strength for Indicator 1.7 is centered around regularly scheduled grade level data meetings with the school principal. In these meetings, data is collected and analyzed for strengths and weaknesses. More vertical collaboration follows these data meetings to ensure teachers are preparing students for the next grade level and curriculum to follow. Grade levels share their end of the year data boards with the next grade level which allows teachers to start each year already knowing where each student is at in their learning process. Concurrently, this practice will help sustain our teachers’ strengths by creating consistency with collaboration regarding STEM expectations, planning lessons and assessing student learning.
Educators collaborate at Barbara Morgan STEM Academy
Collaboration Time in Grade Levels
Our staff uses a PLC Discussion chart and creates digital PLC Team Meeting Notes every Wednesday. Our staff works on setting STEM expectations and instructional planning. Teachers also have daily common planning time to support weekly collaboration time. Each quarter our district also employs an early release day to provide additional time for teachers to meet and plan in depth. In addition to grade level collaboration time, BMSA also meets often to vertically collaborate and make decisions. Our team works together to create continuums of learning for all areas.
Collaboration with STEM Instructor
BMSA teachers often collaborate with our STEM Instructor. Investigations and experiments from classroom PBL's can be conducted in the STEM lab and our STEM Instructor supports the planning, instruction, and material resources for classroom projects. Kindergartners and 1st graders might read stories and sketch ideas to solve a problem and then build it in STEM class. Owls and their habitats might be explored in a 2nd grade classroom and then owl pellets dissected in the lab. Energy, electricity and motion concepts might be studied in 3rd and 4th grade and then their builds finished or modified in STEM. One highlight for all was when a group of 5th graders had the opportunity to work on Cubes in Space and while they designed their experiment in STEM they were able to conduct research and work on their written submissions in their home classroom and their project was accepted to fly into space.
Collaboration with Specialists
STEM collaboration has also been consistently incorporated into our other Specials. Physical Education has implemented a Pacers Program which uses QR codes scanned by students using an Ipad to track laps. Our Music Specialist organizes grade level music programs centered around the science units taught within each grade. In addition, our computer and library teachers work together to support technology and research in the classroom. Students are taught to type and use computer programs to assist in the creation of digital projects and reports. The school library assists with the collection of research materials to be used for PBL investigations and experiments in the classroom.
Data Boards and Curriculum Alignment Within and Across Grade Levels
BMSA uses student data to collect and analyze strengths and weaknesses. Grade levels share their end of the year data boards with the next grade level. This allows teachers to start each year already knowing where each student is at in their learning process and provides the tools necessary to begin each year with a strong foundation of what needs to be taught. Curricular data is also analyzed across grades to ensure that the intended learning outcomes are concise, gap free, and sequenced to develop at each level.