Fall River Teachers Create and Teach STEM Units

STEM School

Teachers in grades K-5 designed multi-disciplinary STEM units over the summer thanks to a Department of Education Race to the Top grant. These units are being taught during the 2014-2015 school year and include integrating science, technology, engineering and mathematics practices with literacy, numeracy, social studies, and team building activities. The units also include elements of design thinking, including design challenges. While teaching the units, teachers are refining and noting changes to be made. They are also being observed and having coaching conversations with the STEM coordinator. From these observations and coaching collaborations, the next iteration of the units are being revised and updated. One example of a revision is in a 3rd grade unit on bridges. The teacher observed that the students needed a guide for what to watch for while testing their prototypes. She became the user for the class, and they designed a tool to use while testing their bridges. The class will share the tool with other classes, for them to modify for their use as they test their prototypes.  

Another example of an integrated STEM unit was adding a research component to a science and engineering unit on Earth science. Students became researchers instead of merely recipients of information. As they designed models to help them increase their underestanding of Earth science concepts, they also had to create and present an individual research project, integrating literacy and research standards. One reluctant writer could not get enough of the experience and was able to share his completed work with the principal. He presented what he had learned and his project with pride and ownership.  

Fall River teachers will continue to revise their STEM units to offer all students rigorous, engaging experiences that promote 21st century learning.  Students and teachers alike will continue hands on learning that integrate STEM practices with various subjects.  Watch for more updates!