"Teaching is the profession that makes all other professions possible- including ours."
Sandra Jackson is currently a STEM Math Specialist at one of the Chicago Public Schools. As part of the school's leadership team, Sandra is committed to supporting teacher and student development through the integration and implementation of a K- 8th STEM Model. Sandra desires to see the students receive a quality STEM education rooted in student exploration and real world experiences.
In the following essay, I discuss some of the qualities of creating an amazing STEM related teaching moment.
My Amazing Teaching Moment
My amazing teaching moment occurred when I was given an opportunity to model teach for a science teacher. I facilitated a lesson for a 7th grade class, whereby students were given an opportunity to learn about earthquakes as well as design and build an earthquake resistant structure. My objective was to use a topic that was prevalent current news and would give children an opportunity to see the connection of science to real world events. I also wanted to give students a chance to experience the engineering design process in the classroom.
The lesson began with students discussing essential questions: What is an earthquake and how are buildings designed to withstand earthquakes? Following the discussion, students watched various footage of the Nepal Earthquake.
Working in groups of four, students researched some of the pertinent terms learned relating to earthquakes and analyzed an interactive online Seismic Monitor to become familiar with earthquake magnitude. Based on the magnitude, the graph depicted severity of earthquakes world wide.
Students then participated in an interactive online activity about P and S seismic waves. Students were able to manipulate the P and S waves and complete an online formative assessment. Lastly, students used K’Nex pieces to build an earthquake resistant structure which was tested using a Shaker Table.The students earthquake structures had to withstand 8 seconds without collapsing. If the structure collapsed before 8 seconds, students had to rebuild their structure.
Learning about earthquakes and building an earthquake resistant structure was a successful lesson for my students as well as myself because the lesson incorporated many of the strategies that a STEM teachers would embrace in their instruction. This lesson enabled me to connect science to real world events using a problem based project. In addition, my students were exposed to the engineering design process in greater depth and were able to engage in self directed learning. Students were also given a chance to collaborate in groups and explore and assess waves of different magnitudes.
The 5 Big Ideas of Amazing Teaching
Developed by Team Pentagonal
Developed by Team Pentagonal
- Teacher Facilitator - Using both teacher and student interests, a creative facilitator orchestrates lessons with a balance of structure and flexibility, including various techniques that cultivate students’ desire to learn and inquire.
- Real World Explorations - Students explore real world problems in order to develop 21st Century skills: critical thinking, problem solving, communication, collaboration and innovation.
- Student Self-directed learning - The learning environment encourages student collaboration and higher order thinking to make sense of the world. Students reflect and communicate their findings taking ownership of their learning.
- Various Probing Questions - Questioning that drives instruction as well as allows for expansion of thoughts, at multiple levels, is essential to STEM. This process is open to all: not only should the instructor pose questions, but students should as well.
- Transferable Application - Students apply and transfer their understanding to novel situations. This fosters creativity, imbues students with confidence & deepens their understanding of and appreciation for the content.