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Categories: Engineering and Language Arts
In EdSurge Case Studies, educators share their real-life experiences with edtech in their schools and classrooms.
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Beth, @STEM_educator
STEM/Engineering teacher for 5K-6th, Mount Lebanon Elementary, South Carolina
1:1 devices and Project-based classroom

Give teachers options to help implement STEM lessons in the classroom.

Product Use: I am the engineering/STEM teacher for my entire school(500+ students) and I use Defined STEM to teach all grade levels real/relevant lessons that incorporate not only STEM subjects , but that reinforces reading/writing skills.

What Worked and What Didn't: Defined STEM has hundreds of lessons tied to curriculum standards that are easily used as is or customized to use in the classroom. It sets the goal, gives parameters, videos, articles, etc. So that you can literally just open up and use as is. Saves teachers tons of prep time. My favorite part, though, is the ability to delete/ add/ customize the lesson how ever I chose. Then I simply assign students a code/ they sign in and they are off and running! Students enjoy watching the videos that make learning fun and really make it come to life- as opposed to just reading an article. I love the fact that each article, site, etc. has been vetted and kids do not search on their own keeping them off unsafe/unreliable sites. hAVEN'T EXPERIENCED ANYTHING THAT DOES NOT WORK, YET.

Age Group: Pre-K students, Middle school students, and Elementary school students

Aug 26, 2016 Provide Feedback
James, @jimpifer
Science Curriculum Coordinator, Southeast Polk Community Schools, Iowa
Bring your own devices (BYOD), Project-based classroom, Blended learning classroom, Special education students, and Low income population

Creating rich, authentic and well developed performance tasks aligned with science, engineering, English language arts, and math standards.

Product Use: Students worked through the kindergarten task "Pushes and Pulls" in Defined stem. After some initial guidance, the teacher was able to allow students to become self-directed learners as they completed several activities using the school playground as the focus of the task. Defined STEM lays out the lessons in such a user-friendly format so even the least tech-savvy teacher is able to integrate it into the classroom.

What Worked and What Didn't: These lessons and tasks were all appropriate for grade. Only minor challenge was using and watching the videos due to lack of technology at times.

Age Group: Pre-K students, Middle school students, and Elementary school students

Jul 7, 2016 Provide Feedback
8th grade English teacher, Horace Mann Middle School, West Virginia
1:1 devices, Special education students, and Low income population

A way to integrate STEM into our everyday curriculum

Product Use: DefinedStem offers a variety of lessons that we all could pull some of our expertise into. Our six core teachers picked one that we knew we would enjoy teaching. During basic skills, we each each spent 2 weeks teaching our lesson. After two weeks we rotate our classes. This allowed us to teach 1 lesson 6 times, getting better each time, while allowing the students the opportunity to learn 6 different STEM lessons from teachers who are knowledgable about 6 different things.

What Worked and What Didn't: Our system was a great success for both teacher and student. If I had to pull one flaw it would simply be easing into the class changes. However, it didn't take long for us to work through this and master the classroom management needed. The program itself is flexible and can be easily modified to each class.

Age Group: Middle school students

Jul 7, 2016 Provide Feedback
Meghan, @meg5han
Coordinator, Elementary Sci/SS, Virginia Beach City Public Schools, Virginia
Project-based classroom, Blended learning classroom, Special education students, and Low income population

Our school division was looking for a way to scale PBL in more schools. We found that "problem finding" was difficult for teachers. Have a set of scenarios readily available, aligned to standards, accompanied by footage from STEM professionals, made PBL more accessible to teachers from a wide variety of age and subject levels.

Product Use: Some teachers used the tasks as written, simply sharing the task with their students and executing it. Some teachers used the base idea as a springboard for their own PBL ideas. Some showed the videos in isolation, but most supplanted traditional instruction with a Defined STEM task.

What Worked and What Didn't: Initially, teachers felt the tasks were not aligned to the curriculum. We were surprised to hear that! Providing an alignment chart at the division level and embedding it directly into the curriculum made a big difference. Training the Instructional Technology Specialists (ITS) at each building also gave a voice to the tool. They were readily familiar with the strategy of PBL and tool itself. When they attended planning, they could mention an aligned task as a possibility.

Age Group: N/A (I am an administrator)

Jul 7, 2016 Provide Feedback
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