STEM is about problem solving, and that is something we ALL need to do right now. Who would have thought we would be teaching from our homes? The 2020-21 school year really feels like Elsa going into the unknown.
We do not know what to expect, what can change overnight, and how this year will take us. First things first, don’t be too hard on yourself. Try your best, do what you can with what you have. You are awesome and you can do this!
So, if you are nervous about teaching STEM in school with social distance requirements, at home, or a mix of both, I have some tips for you.
INFUSE DIGITAL COMPONENTS
If students are working in school or from home, they can complete response and reflection sheets digitally. Use Google / Microsoft to provide students with response sheets. They can write about their challenge and add photos to show what they create.
All of my SIMPLE STEM challenges come with a digital slideshow, so my students were able to easily share what they built. The slideshow created a complete lesson. At the start is an instructional video, the directions, the challenge task card, and the response sheet. I also integrated Flipgrid, so my students could post videos and talk about what they built. This created a sense of community, as students watched and replied to their classmates.
With students not being able to work together at tables, team challenges will be difficult. Try starting the lesson off as a whole group, then letting each student build on their own. Provide each student with their own task card and response sheet. Click here to check out the individual option in each of my SIMPLE STEM challenges.
Using recycled materials will be easier than disinfecting plastic materials constantly. Ask families for donations, it is easy to collect a lot of cardboard and bottles. I keep a bag in my house that I throw any possible building materials into and by the end of the month I have a huge collection! Using simple materials will make things easier as you set up and clean up. When students build, they can even take their projects home with them.
Another option is to provide team roles for each student in one group. Although students may be separated, they can each take part in problem solving. However, only one student will do the physical building. This is a challenge in itself. The group will need to work together to strategize how everything will be set up so that the builder completes the correct plan. Use Google to its full advantage, so students can collaborate from a distance.
If your students have one to one devices in the classroom, or end up working from home, there are still so many ways you can infuse STEM digitally. Think past STEM challenges to animation, coding, 3D printing and other topic areas.
Create a choice board with various STEM options. Click here to get your own copy of my choice board freebie. Students can complete various activities online or at home, then record them on Google Slides. The choices will provide a variety of options for students who may not have specific materials.
Students can create 3D models without having a printer. Provide students with an overview and a challenge. Students can use Tinkercad online to sketch and create their model. This can be easily shared with you. Try out my starter kit.
Websites like Ozobot have a coding simulator to still virtually use your favorite bots. Shape Tracer allows students to code & program their Ozobot. Code.Org is another great site with a full, free, online curriculum. Students can complete activities and courses from home and you can track it from your end.
Don’t be discouraged this school year! There are still SO many options and activities you can provide to your students. Your students will excel no matter what they do! Think positive and problem solve like we tell our students!!