ST 1.7

ST 1. 7 - STEM educators collaborate as an interdisciplinary team to plan, implement, and improve integrated STEM learning experiences.

Our teachers work together to design STEM lessons and activities for our students. Each grade level shares a common planning time to allow for collaboration amongst teachers regularly throughout the school year. Teachers receive training from from a variety of resources from an full-time instructional coach, district technology coaches and coordinators, and more. 

South Carolina Department of Education PBL and STEM Cohort

Offered by the South Carolina Department of Education, two teams of teachers at Red Cedar Elementary School took part in the PBL and STEM Cohort. Over the course of the school year and culminating in the summer, teachers attended face-to-face training as well as virtual meetings where they worked to support the Profile of a South Carolina Graduate through successfully developing STEM units of study that span across the curriculum, implement STEM and Project-Based Learning (PBL), and demonstrate a strong foundation of South Carolina academic standards.

The following learning targets were the focus of the series:

  1. I can apply knowledge of South Carolina academic standards through current best practices of STEM, transdisciplinary learning, and Project-Based Learning.

  2. I can establish a classroom culture that is conducive to STEM learning and inquiry.

  3. I can collaborate and interact with other educators via Blackboard Learn and document my learning progressions in applying STEM and PBL unit development strategies.

  4. I can recognize ways to formally and informally assess 21st century learners. 

State STEM

Beaufort County School District STEM Cohort

For the past three years teachers from Red Cedar Elementary School have participated in a STEM Cohort hosted by the district office. The teachers who participate in the STEM Cohort are chosen by their principal, and they represent different grade levels. One of the main goals of the STEM Cohort is to take STEM from a word to an action. To begin the process, the teachers participated in a day long workshop that focused on; increasing understanding of what a STEM classroom looks like, increasing teacher’s confidence when using STEM activities, sharing STEM lessons, and modeling cross curricular lessons. The second phase of the STEM Cohort is to have the STEM District Coordinator conduct an observation of each of the teachers teaching a STEM lesson and providing feedback.

STEM Cohort

Rainbow Meetings
Red Cedar understands the value of collaboration amongst teachers and staff to ensure a common voice and to utilize the time to refine curriculum, discuss data, and make informed decisions as a team. Teachers meet weekly as a team in what we call Rainbow Meetings. These are essential to the success of our school as we are able to utilize the expertise internally from our instructional coach, colleagues, administration and have a designated time for reflection and improvement.

Master Schedule  Master Schedule

PBL Unit Revision Meetings

As we begin the 17-18 school year, we knew we had to increase the ability of our teachers to collaborate in teams to plan PBL units well.  We built in quarterly ½ day planning sessions to do this work. During these sessions, we follow the below agenda:

  1. Revisit the long range plan.  Make revisions and set goals for the meeting.

  2. Revise the unit that has most recently been completed.  

  3. Begin planning a new unit or revising an existing unit that is approaching.

Because great planning takes time, teachers use other periods of their common planning time throughout the week to get together and operationalize the learning and planning that takes plane in both the Rainbow meetings and PBL planning half-day

Meeting Schedules
PBL Planning

Sample Unit Revision - Markup
PBL Unit

PBL Unit

NASA Touchdown Challenge
Towards the beginning of our STEM journey teachers participated in the NASA Touchdown Challenge during a professional development day. Teachers were purposefully grouped, worked collaboratively to complete the journey and then tested and improved their model. We debriefed by discussing how we can use the Engineering and Design Process in our instruction with students.

(Pictured: Teachers planning and testing their models.)

NASA TouchdownNASA Touchdown