Author Archives: stemsusan
Over the years, our schools have purchased many FOSS kits. Today, I want to share a tutorial with you on how to access the digital content that comes with your FOSS kit.
The tutorial includes information on:
your class page
|flickr: Brent Moore cc|
Our Navajo County Fair has a lot to offer. Blue ribbon bunnies. Tractor races. Cotton candy. Ferris wheel. STEM showcase.
You’ve seen the exhibit halls. Mom’s canned peaches. Grandma’s quilt. Grandpa’s model railroad. But, what about our STEM projects? Absolutely!
The Navajo County Fair offers a wonderful opportunity for students to submit their projects. The exhibit halls have categories for agriculture (STREAM Garden!), crafts, rockets, Legos, most creative use of duct tape (!), and trash to treasure recyclable art. One exhibit category allows for free choice from schools. Why not use the county fair as a way to showcase our students’ projects?!
Entries are due by Friday, September 5th, but the entry application is due in the Navajo County Fair Office by Friday, August 29th. Please contact Susan Rodriguez at SRodriguez@wusd.us if you are interested in entering a STEM project from your class.
Our county fair has all the information available here:
In our last segment on Infographics for STEM, we looked at:
- what infographics are,
- why they are so popular now,
- and what they look like in a classroom.
In this segment, we will look at:
What does an infographic look like in a classroom?
What is an interactive infographic?
- Take a moment to look around the infographic. It helps if you look in a clockwise motion, starting with the top left corner. What information will this infographic give you?
- Scan your eyes to the top right corner. What is pictured there?
- Continue to the bottom right corner. What picture is there? What information will be there?
- Follow this pattern to the bottom left corner. What can you expect to see there?
- Finally, direct your eyes to the middle of the infographic. What does it say to do next?
- What happened when you clicked one of the circles?
How do I teach my students to “read” infographics?
Students don’t have to “read” infographics on a computer. You can print them. In fact, by printing them and placing them in a page protector, your students can interact with the infographic even more. I LOVE the ideas presented in this article on IdeasForEducators.com.
As students become more adept at reading infographics, you can prompt to respond to 6 common questions in a journal or online text:
Where can I learn more about this?
Infographics might just be a perfect link between all the subjects in STREAM.
Science: Many infographics focus on science concepts.
Technology: Most infographics are found online. A growing number of infographics are interactive.
Reading: The “reading” of multimedia is encouraged in Common Core Standards.
Art: Infographics are visually appealing and have a great deal of design built into them.
Math: Most infographics have some form of graph or math concept represented.
What is an infographic?
Before we go any further, you may be wondering, “what is an infographic?” An infographic is information presented visually (info + graph). Another way to say it is that infographics are a visual representation of data.
This slideshare does a great job of explaining infographics:
Why are infographics so popular now?
Common Core State Standards have perhaps created a perfect opportunity for teachers to bring infographics into the classroom. “Analyzing text structures is a major theme of the common core literacy standards. It’s more than just reading in science, it’s looking at data, charts and information presented as pictures.” (Biology Corner)
To be ready for college, workforce training, and life in a technological society, students need the ability to gather, comprehend, evaluate, synthesize, and report on information and ideas, to conduct original research in order to answer questions or solve problems, and to analyze and create a high volume and extensive range of print and non-print texts in media forms old and new. (Common Core State Standards)
Despite the arguments of Common Core detractors, what students are “expected to learn” are not facts so much as argumentation, logic and how to vet and interpret information. The goal of the system is to help students distill the most important pieces of information from any given text and form a conclusion. Allison McCartney
What does this look like in a classroom?
Instead of telling you what infographics look like in a classroom, let’s look at an example!
In this screenshot, you can see that we are in the infographic lesson for the Wind Energy Unit of our Energy Resources STEM project. Just as good readers make predictions before they read novels, good readers of infographics scan the text and make predictions. Since we want to make students aware of their metacognition, we ask them questions about what clues they used.
Since most infographics include data, writing Math questions is a perfect fit for Math in STEM. Common Core and the new digital assessments (PARCC and Smarter Balanced) prompt students for more justification of their answers. Build that in to your use of infographics with prompts such as “why did…?” and “what strategies did you use?”.
Infographics typically use multiple types of graphs/charts within the same infographic. It’s a great opportunity to spiral back to prior learning.
This particular infographic included seven (count them, seven!) different graphs/charts. Analyzing this one infographic could taken an entire class period. Instead of using worksheets with naked equations, you can use an infographic! The added benefit is that using an infographic in Math, also uses literacy skills to read about science content by using technology. (Imagine the possibilities once students begin to create their OWN infographics based on research!)
After-school clubs are not new in our district. Many schools around the district offer robotics, foreign language (including ASL), cultural, and religious clubs. Even more offer after-school tutoring. But what about STEM?
STEM clubs may have the following benefits:
Maybe you have wanted to start a STEM Club, but weren’t sure how to do it. There are many resources available for you.
Science Foundation Arizona has created a STEM Club Guide, with everything you need. They offer a STEM Club Conference in June. They have ongoing panels and forums, where educators from across the state can “meet up” to pose questions and seek answers from others. Registration is open right now for the 2nd Annual STEM Clubs Conference this June.
At the conference, you will have the opportunity to:
Each school may send up to 2 participants, using the following link to register each participant: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/7DS6T8G. PLEASE REGISTER EACH PARTICIPANT SEPARATELY.
If your school wants to offer After-School Enrichment STEM Club, consider attending the conference this summer.
For more information on this event, please contact Stephaine Frimer at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on STEM Club at Cradleboard Elementary, please contact Susan Rodriguez at email@example.com.
Research shows that after-school enrichment programs are effective in stimulating interest in STEM-related careers, plus so much more. But don’t take my word for it. Read these letters from parents of STEM Club students.
I have noticed that my daughter became more brighter and more patient after she joined STEM Club. I have also noticed that she began reading more on her own and asking for books. She also started keeping a journal of her own. She writes in it daily. She
I am so proud of these kids. Even when the project didn’t work as planned, they kept smiles on their faces, shoulders erect, and went right back to work, trying to find the solution. It would have been so easy for them to have gotten upset or slumped their shoulders. Especially, in front of all their peers. My hope is that they can take that same mentality to the real world and keep smiling in the face of adversity. Keep their shoulders erect and get right back in there.
It’s not only knowledge for a career, but knowledge for life.
All across the district, teachers and students are ramping up for the AIMS test. Whereas most students take the Reading, Math, and Writing portions, 4th graders also take the Science portion. Daily, 4th grade teachers must make a decision to cut into Reading and Math instruction in order to teach Science standards. Unless they integrate.
Integration is the concept of teaching more than one subject in a single lesson/unit. For instance, a teacher may have students measure water in a bowl before placing it outside in the sun. Then, hours later, the students measure the water remaining the bowl. Not only is the teacher covering the Science concept of evaporation, but they are also using Math concepts of measuring and using appropriate tools.
Integration is more than the sum of the parts.
Integration shows the students that we don’t move from Reading modules to Math modules in our everyday lives. When we are at the grocery store, we read labels and compare prices in the same minute. STEM is the integration of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math in Project-Based Learning units. Not only do the students learn the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, but also English-Language Arts standards. Federal mandate “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) put pressure on teachers to only teach Reading and Math. NCLB was not re-authorized and teachers are free again to teach other content areas, such as Science, Social Studies, Art, and Engineering. Teachers are free to take their kids outside again, to learn about nature……in nature.
Last week, Cradleboard fourth graders were able to attend Science Camp at Retreat at Tontozona near Payson. The students were bussed in from Whiteriver on Wednesday morning and returned to the reservation on Friday afternoon. In the three days at camp, the students attended 8 modules with a culminating presentation. The modules were carefully selected to cover 68% of what would be tested on the Science portion of AIMS.
The modules included:
1.Changes in Environments: Students went on a hike to look for evidence of natural events (floods, wildfires) and their effects on the environment. (AZ 3.1.1)
◾The hike led to an area affected by wildfire some years ago. Mrs. Rodriguez explained that fire can be used in beneficial ways to help a forest as well. The students diagrammed the forest and noted that all was not dead. In fact, many trees were sprouting again.
2.Diversity, Adaptations, and Behavior: Students took a nature walk and looked for animals with adaptations such as camouflage and mimicry. (AZ 4.4.1)
◾This hike led students to a tree who’s roots had been exposed due to years of flooding. The roots had developed bark to protect the tree.
◾Students were instructed to look for hidden pictures along the hike. The pictures were tacked right onto the trees but they were “hidden” because they were camouflaged.
◾Students also learned about the mutualistic relationship between lichen fungi and lichen algae.
3.Earth’s Processes and Systems: Students did hands-on experiments outside to observe the effects of weathering and erosion. (AZ 6.2.1)
◾Students went on a nature hike along a river. They found natural occurrences of rocks being weathered due to water and roots. They found evidence of erosion in the sandy banks, muddy pools, and rock slides. At each occurrence, the students sat and diagrammed in their Science Camp Journals.
◾When the students returned to the fields, they created sand towers to mimic erosion. By blowing on the sand towers, students could observe first-hand that wind erosion is a slow process, as is ice erosion. When Mrs. Rodriguez poured 3 cups of water onto the sand tower, they instantly observed that water is powerful and fast! Since most of the water was absorbed into the sand tower, Mrs. Rodriguez was able to have natural conversations about groundwater and natural springs.
4.Organisms and Environments: Students used an engineering kit to make renewable forms of energy (solar, wind, etc.). (AZ 4.3.1 and AZ 5.3.1)
◾Students watched a short video clip to give them background knowledge of solar energy and how to harness it.
◾Students were taken outside the classroom to see a commercial solar oven in use. The instructor had placed pineapple upside down batter into baking dish, along with a thermometer, into the solar oven in the morning. As each class went through this module, they observed the temperature inside the oven and outside.
◾Students were then presented with the challenge to create their own solar oven with the available materials (cardboard box, foil, black construction paper, saran wrap, and tape). Although there was not enough time for the student-created solar ovens to bake cookies, a competition has been planned for Friday, April 4th. The winners will be recognized at Innovation Nation.
5.Changes in the Earth and Sky: Students took weather measurements with digital tools and graphed the results. (AZ 6.3.1)
◾Students began this module with a short video to describe the difference between weather and climate. Then, they learned about typical weather patterns.
◾Students moved quickly through centers where they watched thermometers moving when placed in successive containers of hot and cold water, raced to find matching thermometers, and track current weather conditions.
◾Students ended the session with an experiment of mixing hot, blue water and cold, green water. Would the colors mix or separate? What is your hypothesis?
6.Animal Sounds: Students took a hike at night to listen for animal sounds.
◾Students started their lesson in the dining hall with a talk about our five senses and how each helps us and animals. The conversation then turned to how a creature of the night might use their senses differently and which would be more important. Before heading out, the students listened to animal sounds in the dark and identified what animals made those sounds.
◾On the hike, students were instructed to leave the flashlights off and to let their eyes adjust naturally to the moonlight. Students ate wintergreen breath mints and observed sparks in their partners mouths.
◾After howling in response to several packs of coyotes, the students stargazed. Students correctly identified a number of constellations and were verified with a smartphone app.
7.Reading and Writing: Students were given nonfiction text and journal space to read and write.
◾Students chose an area to research (renewable energy sources, electricity circuits, etc.). They relaxed by the reflection pond, reading their nonfiction texts and planning an engaging presentation. They were given a poster, markers, and time after dinner to practice their presentation.
◾The final presentations included such original ideas as a news broadcast, a song about the water cycle, and a human electric circuit, among others.
◾Although students are not tested (yet) on the Common Core standards of Speaking and Listening, the presentations were an excellent way to practice these important skills.
8.Leadership: Students engaged in several scenarios where they worked together as a team.
◾Students were given the opportunity to step into leadership roles.
Although Science Camp was extremely fun, it was also educational. As in most educational programs, it’s all about the data. So, what does the data say about Science Camp? We gave our students a pre-test a few days before leaving for Science Camp. We then gave them a post-test on the Monday, immediately following their return. After three days at camp, the students averaged a 27% percent gain!
We have proved that taking children outside, to learn about nature, in nature, and to integrate Reading and Writing into Science shows tremendous growth. We have left the era of No Child Left Behind. Our new slogan should be “No Child Left Inside”.
Common Core, or as Arizona calls it, Arizona’s College and Career Readiness Standards, states,
To build a foundation for college and career readiness, students must read widely and deeply from among a broad range of high-quality, increasingly challenging literary and informational texts….By reading texts in history/social studies, science, and other disciplines, students build a foundation of knowledge in these fields that will also give them the background to be better readers in all content areas.
Some school districts are purchasing “common-core aligned” curriculum to help their teachers find those complex texts in other disciplines. However, many school districts do not have funds for this. Teachers are left to search endlessly on the internet to find informational texts at their students’ reading levels. Until now…..
ReadWorks.org is a non-profit website which offers high-interest passages and comprehension questions. The passages are fully-searchable. Teachers need only type in a keyword, select the reading level, and search.
The site is free and sign-up is quick. There are hundreds of high-quality passages for grades Kindergarten through 6th grade.
Go to ReadWorks.org to start searching now. You can search in the box in the top right corner.
When you have created a profile, you may save passages to “My Binder”.
If you don’t know exactly what you want to read about, you can search by standard. Click on “My Standars Alignment” at the top. If you already have a profile, it will direct you to your state standards. If the pacing guide (curriculum map) for the week says “Cause and Effect” you can select that standard. **Make sure you select the correct grade level.
Lesson plans are designed with the Gradual Release of Responsibility framework of “I do, We do, You do”. Most lesson plans also include:
- learning objectives
- a vocabulary routine
- guided practice
- graphic organizers to scaffold understanding
- student engagement strategies (Turn and Talk, Buddy Buzz, etc.)
- independent practice with multiple choice questions and constructed response prompts
- extension ideas
- novel studies (for 5th and 6th grades, however, I have used some of those novels in 4th grade)
- paired text
I want to take a minute to explain the paired text feature. Common Core asks for readers to make connections between texts. If your district-adopted curriculum does not provide paired texts, it can be very time consuming for teachers to find texts on the same subject and reading level. On ReadWorks.org, the work is done for you!
For a tutorial on finding specific texts, watch this video:
Science cannot advance if scientists are unable to communicate their findings clearly and persuasively. (A Framework for K-12 Science Education)
When you think back on science in high school, there were probably lots of hands-on experiments. Probably just as many lectures to teach you about the theories and laws of science. But, how many times did you write about science? “Well, that’s for the English Language Arts teachers to worry about.” Not anymore.
The Common Core State Standards (or as Arizona calls them “Arizona’s College and Career Readiness Standards”), specifically state that writing and reading is now the job of all content teachers. “The Standards insist that instruction in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language be a shared responsibility within the school.”
The percentage of nonfiction text increases as students move up the grades
as well as the percentage of nonfiction writing projects.
Our STEM Curriculum Developers have looked extensively at the Model Content Frameworks to embed writing into the STEM units.
We don’t wish to replace the novel studies and literature circles. Quite the contrary. We aim to step right alongside those fourth graders reading City of Ember to start a STEM project on renewable resources. And we know that teachers have nine hours of content to teach in a seven hour day. The solution seems to be integration. Let’s use interdisciplinary units, that have nonfiction text, that prepare our students for 21st century jobs, and that produce writing projects for a global audience.
Common Core asks students to “write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences” in Anchor Standard 10. We have embedded
|Journal page for 2nd graders with sentence stems|
|Writing activity after Close Reading of text|
|Students write in an online forum and comment on peer’s threads|
and final writing projects:
|Digital Poster for final project|
|Website with digital media for final project|
Our STEM Curriculum Team actively seeks the input of our teachers. As we look to future STEM projects, what writing projects would you like to see?
In a few weeks, PARCC will be field testing the new online assessment with over 1 million students in PARCC states. About 100 of those students come from our district.
Where can teachers (and parents) see sample test questions?
Teachers, parents, and students have a number of resources available to them. You can go directly to PARCConline.org and see sample tests for English Language Arts (ELA) and Math. Click here for a tutorial on how to access the sample tests and why it’s important to start looking at them now. Click here for a tutorial on how to find the answers to the above tests and their point values. Yes, different questions have different point values. In fact, a student may incorrectly answer a math problem but still score points if they have correctly explained their rationale in the text box.
Just how different is this digital test compared to “fill in the bubble” tests?
The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) has released sample test items. ADE has done a great job of embedding the digital tools in the test. Click here to see the dramatically different digital testing environment. What did you notice was different?
- highlighting text
- drag and drop
PARCC has released the first (of two) tutorials on navigation and accessibility.
This first release includes navigation and some accessibility features and a second tutorial will be released in mid to late February 2014 with all item interaction types.
As of just earlier this week, PARCC has also released information on graphing calculators for high school students. Click here for a free download of Texas Instruments calculator.
What are these “computer tools” and “accessibility tools”?
I highly encourage all students, parents, and teachers to go through the tutorial designed by PARCC. There are so many “computer” things students need to know in order to take the test. For instance, there are some questions which can have more than one correct answer. Students need to know how to tell if a question allows for “multiple select“. Hint, it’s all in the radial buttons. Do you know what that means? More importantly, do your students know what that means? The writing portion will be scored based on a rubric, and PARCC has put the rubric right there……….on a tab. What if your student doesn’t know they can select the rubric to see what the scorers will be looking for?
Click here to go directly to the tutorial.
Which features do you think your students will struggle with the most? What can you do to support your students over the next few weeks so they don’t struggle?
Fourth graders in our district will pilot the PARCC test in a few months. I know that many of you are looking for digital learning resources to prepare your students for digital testing next year. A previous post about digital learning everyday was one of the most viewed posts we have ever had.
On the left side, click the grade level and subject you are interested in viewing.
I have chosen to highlight 4th grade, as they will be piloting the test this year. For now, let’s look at Math. By scrolling down, you will see 3 columns and prototype items. Select one.
On the left side, select the level you wish to view.
Select a sample item.
By selecting “Part A” at the top, you will be directed to the question page.
Take a minute to read it and find the solution. Thoughts? Was it as easy as A, B, C, or D? In fact, let me ask you this: how many equations did you have to do to find the answer to this one question? When you click on scoring (at the top right), you will see that it was no less than 3 equations.
This page shows the solution, as well as the rationale. Another new twist on the PARCC that we are not accustomed to is that students may get partial credit for questions. For instance, this question is worth 6 points, and students can score anywhere on that spectrum.
When you are done looking at the prototype questions and getting the answers to your questions, return to the tab on your browser for PARCC online.
This time, click one of the sample questions at the bottom. For instance, Subtraction Fluency.
This question seems like a typical 4th grade question. However, entering the answer may confuse some students. We teach our students to always start on the right side. If they subtract 3-2, they will try to enter 1. But, as an adult with experience with calculators, you know that the 1 will shift to the left when you enter the next digit.
I will highlight calculator games in the coming weeks on my series of STEM@home. Check back in a week, when I walk you through the accommodations for PARCC (another eye-opener!).