Musings and Strategies From the Teachers Next Door

Posts tagged ‘real world’

You’ve Got This!

You've Got This

Do you ever wonder if you have what it takes to make the transition to STEM? As teachers we are constantly being pushed toward the newest trend and expected in implement it flawlessly with few resources. Our creativity has been stifled, and our lessons have become bland as we seek to please the mighty test gods to order seek proficiency on our new evaluation. STEM, we think, is just one more trend that will be thrown away in few short years, so we keep our head down and just continue day in and day out without ever adjusting our teaching. Well, let me say, let me shout…. TEACHERS – WAKE UP! Our time as come. We CAN be creative, we CAN have excellent scores and we CAN infuse life back into our students. And here is how:

  1. Mistakes will happen…it’s ok. 

Our mistakes are not about a lack of ability. Mistakes do NOT equal failure. We have to change our thinking. Our mistakes provide fertile soil to model risk taking and an opportunity to teach students how to use “failure” as a way to learn.

  1. Learn to embrace problems.

STEM is all about problem-based learning. When you are planning a lesson, train your brain to identify a problem for the students to solve. It takes a paradigm shift and some time to develop, but once you start, it gets easier. STEM is so much more than simply a hands-on activity, it’s using problem-based learning to teach. It REQUIRES kids to think and it levels the playing field between different types and levels of learners.

If you don’t even know where to start, here is a free starter pack to help you get started.

  1. Restore the fun.

Teachers, we have complained too long about having to teach our curriculum a particular way. We have seen how it is inadequate and does not work. This is our chance.  Gone are the days when skill and drill is considered an acceptable way to teach. We aren’t trying to produce robots or regurgitators of information. We want students that love to learn and take initiative and let’s face it…facilitating and guiding students to learning something new is LOTS more fun than lecturing!

April and Diane 🙂



Monday already?!


     Where did the weekend go?? I am not going to lie: this week is going to be crazy. Our fifth grade leaves for its annual trip to D.C. on Wednesday. As a fifth grade teacher, this means that I get to accompany them! Exciting! As a mother of three boys, this takes a LOT of preparation! Picture the most laundry you have ever done at one time. Now I bet you can double that and you will have a pretty good idea of the amount of laundry I got done this weekend! It is done, though, and I am ready to go!

     Except that I also had to plan for my classroom while I am gone. Not all of the fifth graders will be going, so some of my buddies are going to be hard at work here at school. The state mandated CRCT is just around the corner, so we are in full out prep mode. Now, we are new to this blogging thing, but if you knew me, you would know that I detest test prep. Don’t get me wrong: I am all about reviewing! I know that the kids need to review what we learned at the beginning of the year and I am more than happy to help them remember. What I do not like is the endless drill that CRCT review can sometimes look like. Kids start to block it and check out…right into summer break and then where does it leave them?

     SO! Keeping with my belief that real world applications make for better retention of information, I went searching and I found this gem! Thanks to Teaching With a Mountain View, I have some really awesome real world activities to leave behind! So, yes, I am a little overwhelmed. The end of the year will do that,but this morning I am feeling ready to take on the week!

*Disclaimer: This also means that you can look forward to lots of posts including teaching ideas as we travel around the Capital City…I foresee lots of STEM lesson opportunities!!*

STEM….It makes you think….

“When we are successful, students think they are playing”     Jaime Punjabi

Amid the craziness of teaching day in and day out, in between surmounting the piles of papers to grade, the RTI folders to keep updated, and let’s not forget the classroom behavior that must be managed, have you stopped and wondered, “There HAS got to be a better way”?

We have been feeling this way for a while, trying to master the different programs that are introduced each year as we revise school improvement plans and try our hardest to prove that we’re making a difference. Except we really aren’t. Not really. Students are managed and we very rarely encounter major behavior issues. But they haven’t been engaged. Where are the kids that we envisioned while in school? You know, the ones who hang on every word, the ones who eagerly await the next assignment and give it all they have because they are eager to show how much you have taught them?

STEM changes this. By changing our teaching, we are changing our classrooms. We want to share what has helped to change our view of education today. We want everyone to experience the hope of change that STEM offers. We are on a journey to share everything we have learned and are learning every day in the trenches of teaching. We can change the face of classrooms. Although it is titled STEM, for us, we don’t care what you call it officially, all we know is that integrating all subjects through inquiry-based instruction coupled with technology and engineering provides a classroom where students are engaged, interested, and are becoming independent thinkers and problem solvers!

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