Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Boonton Twp. Board of Ed. hears presentation on STEM
Written by Gail Bottone
John Henry, New Jersey School Boards Association’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and Sustainable Schools specialist, discussed the topic of "Student Achievement through an integrative STEM Approach" at the Boonton Township Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 25.
Henry was asked by the Board to give this presentation because in the beginning of the school year, when the Board was writing goals and objectives, the topic of forming a STEM lab in the school’s library was brought up.
In the light of this, the Board is searching for a better understanding of the program and its implementation.
No decisions have been made as to whether the school will proceed with the program.
Henry began his presentation by saying "when employers were asked to identify job applicant’s common deficiencies, most industries reported a lack of mathematics, computer, and problem-solving skills."
This new approach to learning will close the gap on these deficiencies.
The integrated STEM approaches to learning are "design-based learning approaches that intentionally integrate the concepts and practices of science and/or mathematics education with the concepts and practices of technology and engineering education.
It may be enhanced through further integration with other school subjects such as language arts, social studies, art, etc." When it is integrated with the arts, it is called STEAM.
The approach requires students take an active part in the learning process. It is a hands-on approach whereby students apply their know-ledge to problem solving in real-world situations.
The iSTEM literature says, "Students need to practice solving problems and making informed decisions, rather than merely warehousing collections of facts. Research tells us that students learn best when encouraged to construct their own knowledge of the world around them."
It is a method that fosters applied academics rather than just the theoretical. There are open-ended questions and activities related to topics that allow students to brainstorm, read, demonstrate, discuss, use technology, practice doing, and teach others.
An important question was raised by Board member Adrienne Charlton. She asked, "How does this approach fit in with the Common Core curriculum?"
It was explained that Common Core dictates what is to be learned but not how it is to be learned, and teachers would not be expected to keep to the letter of their lesson plans for the day. It allows for creativity and flexibility.
RVS parent Melissa Signore, regional curriculum coordi-nator for Pascack Valley Regional School districts, has been involved in iSTEM for three years and spoke to the Board on the benefits of such a program.
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