Practical Strategies for Teaching STEM

Strategy: Use Common Core Standards (CCS) to Incorporate Reading, Writing, and Speaking in STEM activities.

Did you just want to stop reading? What is it about CCS that makes teachers want to shut down? Perhaps it is because we hear, “Everyone is supposed to teach reading, writing, and speaking.” The implication is that science teachers must “help” teach reading, writing, and speaking.

When CCS was first introduced at my school, the presenter demanded that Science teachers chose a topic, teach a lesson and bring a student sample of an argumentative five-paragraph essay. Dutifully, my department thought about an essay entitled, “How the Moon was Formed.” The plan included teachers presenting the different theories with references.  Students would use the references to write and support an argument. When all the essays were turned in, the teachers would present the latest theory about what scientists know about how the moon was formed. Our presenter, an ELA teacher, loved the idea. Hmm, so what is wrong?

Some of the students will have spent time supporting a theory and then find their ideas were incorrect. What do you think they will remember? Gratuitously writing an essay for the sake of writing an essay is foolish and a great way to build life long misconceptions.

Teachers can authentically practice the skills of reading, writing, and speaking when they develop STEM lesson plans. In the next couple of blogs, I’m going to examine the Common Core Strategies as they relate to practical strategies for teaching STEM.


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