What is STEM and how can I fit it into my classroom?
STEM, or Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, isn’t limited to one subject or class; it plays a role in every topic and can be incorporated into any lesson plan. The real question isn’t, “What is STEM?“, but is really “How do I implement STEM?”Check out these cross-curricular lesson planning tips to keep your students engaged and passionate no matter what you’re teaching.
Make it applicable to everyday life
If you don’t tell students why they should care, you’ll soon hear the dreaded question, “What is STEM and when am I ever going to use this?” If you’re passionate about what you’re teaching, students should hopefully catch your enthusiasm, but unfortunately that’s not always the case. That’s where STEM can come in. Whether we’re aware of it or not, science, technology, engineering, and math play vital roles in our everyday life, from making a spending budget to cooking. If you’re teaching a history lesson, make it come alive by examining the technology at the time and comparing it to all we have today. Follow the classic writing tip and show, don’t tell.
Go outside the classroom
Going along with showing and not telling, allow students to see how STEM works in the real world rather than just on the pages of textbooks. In an article on the benefits of cross-curriculum teaching, Monica Fuglei suggests combining subjects like music and science. A hands-on project using instruments to learn about concepts like sound waves and pitch could be the key to engaging reluctant students.
Don’t start from scratch
Trying to cross curriculums can sound exhausting, but it doesn’t have to mess up your tried and true lesson plans. Don’t ask yourself, “What is STEM and how can I base a whole lesson around it?” Instead, just add in STEM when it works. If you’ve already assigned a writing assignment, tweak it to be a “science poem” or an art project can include engineering. Check out TeachHub for ideas on how to easily add STEM into your plans.
To fully integrate all topics, choose overarching themes. For example, you could spend time answering “What is STEM?” with a lesson on nature, which offers plenty of possibilities for creative writing assignments, poetry, science projects, real-life math problems, and more. The broader your themes and plans are, the easier it is to explore every subject and field.
Partner with fellow teachers.
Don’t attempt to do all of this by yourself. Ask a STEM teacher, “What is STEM and how do you make it interesting?” In an article for Edutopia, Ben Johnson proposes three steps for successful collaboration: align, cooperative, conceptual. Essentially, he thinks cross-curriculum teaching works best when teachers comes together, move in the same direction, and share their talents and passions.
For more tips and help with lesson plans, check out all of our free resources for teachers.