Your #STEAMByte for the week...
With everything teachers are asked to do, isn't STEAM just one more thing? When can teachers find the time to teach STEAM? Is there even time for STEAM?
Well to start with it is important to remember that STEAM is not a separate subject, class, or content. It is a culture in your classroom and school. It is not more, just different. We're trying to grow students who are collaborators, communicators, critical thinkers, and creators. This does not take doing something more, just doing what you do differently.
...and sometimes not even differently but just intentionally.
Does your questioning push students to think deeper and explain their thinking? Are there more opportunities for students to communicate their thinking with their peers - turn and talk, journal reflections, and a class parking lot are great strategies. As a math teacher I would share my favorite wrong answer ("My Favorite No") instead of sharing correction solutions from warm-ups. It took no extra time compared to going over a normal warm-up but changed the mindset.
Change your choice of materials and books. As an English teacher you can be deliberate in your book choice. Could you change one of your book studies or read alouds to The Most Magnificent Thing or The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind? As a math teacher you can be intentional about the word problems that you assign. Instead of math problems about buying watermelons there is the opportunity to bring in career connections.
Do the posters and bulletin boards in your class combine subject areas and focus on themes instead of individual subjects? Do your science posters highlight various ethnicities, races, and genders? Do students see themselves?
Consider a flipped classroom. While virtual and hybrid instruction are not ideal in most cases, there are some positive components and we bridge over to our everyday practice. Students can watch a video mini-lesson with Loom, Screencastify, or Edpuzzle at home and then come to school ready to apply the background knowledge.
Use integrated instruction. STEAM is not meant to be taught as a separate class and neither is science, technology, engineering, art, math, ELA, social studies, world languages, fine arts, etc. Instruction should integrate multiple content areas so students can see the connections between what they are learning and have opportunities to apply what they know. We've known that students should read and write in all areas - STEAM is the same.
So I will admit...planning all of this DOES TAKE TIME! There is no way around that. Finding new strategies and implementing new structures can take time. It can take your students more time to get use to new questioning and new expectations. Planning for new projects and planning with colleagues to create integrated connections takes time. However this is time well spent and once you sit down and plan the routines then you're able to use them repeatedly. Also, hopefully, your administration supports the goals and aims of STEAM instruction and is willing to work to provide professional development time for you to work on this intense planning. It doesn't hurt to ask!