Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math
STEM Education is a term that refers to an educational focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. The key components of STEM Education include practical application and natural integration. Through a focus on career application of content and skills, teachers help their students understand why they are learning what they are in the classroom. When designing lessons, teachers reflect on the connection of skills and knowledge across multiple content areas. The teachers who have become more comfortable with seamless integration often decide to start with their science standards and concepts. Then, they look at what nonfiction/fiction texts can they use during reading and writing time as mentor or guided reading texts that connect to the science concepts. Next, they think about their writing time and Common Core State Standards to find ways to have the students write about their science learning through applying the writing skills and practices they are working on. Finally, they look at the CCSS in math and how those skills connect to their science concepts. By purposefully looking for connections across all content areas, they are making it easier to point out these connections to students during the lessons.
In designing our curriculum, we start with looking at the big picture of how all the units of study in each content area fit in our school year. We have developed a yearlong planning guide for each grade level that outlines the key units of study. You can find the yearlong plans below for each grade level.
Another area that makes Benton STEM different is the exposure to engineering concepts in all grades Kindergarten through fifth. Our teachers have worked hard to incorporate the engineering design process into their classroom instruction. One way this is done is through the integration of engineering design challenges at the end of each science unit. It provides students with a way to practically apply the science concepts they learned in a new context. Each engineering design challenge is carefully designed to follow the engineering design process. Our design challenges for grades first through fifth can be found by going here. We are in the process of documenting our kindergarten design challenges. The document will be updated when we complete our kindergarten design challenges.