March 25th, 2018 by Jill Barclay

As we continue to immerse ourselves in STEM at our school at times my head still spins thinking of all the possibilities. It’s exciting for sure! I am learning our school already does a lot of “STEM,” and it’s also just good teaching practice.

This past week several of us had the opportunity to visit two schools outside of our district, one being one with STEM distinction from NC. Early on in our visit I asked the principal what their focus is as a STEM school, and he right away answered with PBLs. Selfishly that was intriguing to me because I wrote a PBL for a 2nd grade sound unit as part of my Kenan project, and so it’s definitely something on my radar.

Prior to last summer’s PD in NCCAT I think I was hung up on the traditional acronym of Science Technology Engineering Mathematics until Strategies That Engage Minds was highlighted and is now ingrained in us. When I look at the STEM Attribute Implementation Rubric the very first attribute is: 1) Project-based learning with integrated content across STEM subjects. Elementary schools have ten components to focus on and work towards prepared and/or model. This is a curriculum component of the rubric. It makes total sense to me we want to hone in on this part and potentially even first and the other curriculum pieces will fall into a PBL.

My colleagues and I are ready to tackle this part of STEM, with some additional PD, of course. When I think about the PBLs I really, really, really think about the significance of engaging students by creating a real-life problem and making sure students can relate to the role they are being placed in. PBLs will support the WHY!

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