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⇒A STEM System⇐

Stemeter High School: Bioteacher Brief Biography of BioTeacher (Bio) 23 Year-old Female Science Concentration: Biology

Degrees: B.S. – Biology (2 years ago) M.S. – Science Education (1 year ago) Recent Continuing Education: Previous summer: Workshop for Teaching STEM and Working with STEM Catalysts in ⇒A STEM System⇐ Experience: Classroom -- 1 Year Biology – 1 Year Life Science (6th grade) – 1 Year

Unmarried:

AP Biology – 1 Year


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⇒A STEM System�

Path to Teaching: Received A grades in middle school science and the usual high school courses; did undergraduate research starting freshman year and continued for undergraduate program. No extracurricular science work during graduate school. Note lack of any non-academic technical experience. Bio took a new job at Stemeter High School to work with a STEM education system instead of continuing in the traditional science course pattern. Reading about advances in medicine, the challenges of emerging potential pandemics, and the uncertainties of societal changes as job opportunities continued to shrink had caused Bio to concentrate on new educational thrusts instead of traditional methodology. She felt comfortable having a classroom where she ruled, but the opportunity to work with a teaching team trying to push every student forward was attractive. With over $60,000 of student debt, Bio also wanted more information about jobs she might get by gaining much more career information from the STEM Catalysts. Summer jobs that would permit her to continue teaching would be preferred; however, she had decided that a fulltime job enabling her to pay down the student loan would receive serious consideration.


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⇒A STEM System⇐

The dichotomy between the need to develop basic knowledge/skills to give a foundation for STEM and the astounding amount of known science and the rate of advances in all areas of STEM bothered Bio. Would students exposed to headline science and instantaneous access to vast amounts of information be satisfied with memorizing the names and functions of organelles in living cells? Then there was the chemistry of transporting material across cell walls, which she still did not completely understand – so how could she teach it well? Further, there was the issue during her first year of teaching of the really good students, whom she had mostly left on their own since they would get good grades with little effort. They needed challenging and she had neither the time nor the broad expertise from experience to create worthwhile challenges. With ⇒A STEM System⇐, she would have frequent access to STEM Specialists from many fields to enrich her own background, while exposing her students to people working in many different fields that relied on STEM knowledge/skills.


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⇒A STEM System⇐

That pre-class week at Stemeter for planning the semester’s work had been both challenging and exciting. Her preconceptions about what to teach in biology had been melded with previous year’s decisions by other teachers and the AI management program (SGS) accepted her inputs with only a few refusals that led to discussions with her Teaching Team and decisions by consensus. The Team overroad some of the AI refusals and accepted others. Bio was pleased with the result. The students experienced with ⇒A STEM System⇐ were helping the 9th graders and other new students get acquainted with how things worked in the new class. Much of Week 1 was devoted to testing, getting acquainted with apparatus available for Student Projects, and safety. The course component, “Planning and Evaluation,” was reviewed by setting up the first Student Teams and ensuring that the processes for managing Student Projects would be followed by the experienced students, with the new students being taught the planning system. Soon, all the students were ready for the first Student Project with anticipation. The formative tests were discovering misconceptions and inadequate preparation in alarming volume. The new students brought with them backgrounds that left some barely literate in arithmetic while others had extremely good preparation for studying STEM. ⇒A STEM System⇐ was intended to provide opportunities to address the needs of all the students and Bio hoped most students would respond. Those that continued to dally would get opportunities later to catch up. Bio hoped the peer pressures exerted during Student Projects might activate some of the some of the students having little academic motivation.


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⇒A STEM System⇐

That pre-class week at Stemeter for planning the semester’s work had been both challenging and exciting. Her preconceptions about what to teach in biology had been melded with previous year’s decisions by other teachers and the AI management program (SGS) accepted her inputs with only a few refusals that led to discussions with her Teaching Team and decisions by consensus. The Team overroad some of the AI refusals and accepted others. Bio was pleased with the result. The students experienced with ⇒A STEM System⇐ were helping the 9th graders and other new students get acquainted with how things worked in the new class. Much of Week 1 was devoted to testing, getting acquainted with apparatus available for Student Projects, and safety. The course component, “Planning and Evaluation,” was reviewed by setting up the first Student Teams and ensuring that the processes for managing Student Projects would be followed by the experienced students, with the new students being taught the planning system. Soon, all the students were ready for the first Student Project with anticipation. The formative tests were discovering misconceptions and inadequate preparation in alarming volume. The new students brought with them backgrounds that left some barely literate in arithmetic while others had extremely good preparation for studying STEM. ⇒A STEM System⇐ was intended to provide opportunities to address the needs of all the students and Bio hoped most students would respond. Those that continued to dally would get opportunities later to catch up. Bio hoped the peer pressures exerted during Student Projects might activate some of the some of the students having little academic motivation.


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⇒A STEM System⇐

That pre-class week at Stemeter for planning the semester’s work had been both challenging and exciting. Her preconceptions about what to teach in biology had been melded with previous year’s decisions by other teachers and the AI management program (SGS) accepted her inputs with only a few refusals that led to discussions with her Teaching Team and decisions by consensus. The Team overroad some of the AI refusals and accepted others. Bio was pleased with the result. The students experienced with ⇒A STEM System⇐ were helping the 9th graders and other new students get acquainted with how things worked in the new class. Much of Week 1 was devoted to testing, getting acquainted with apparatus available for Student Projects, and safety. The course component, “Planning and Evaluation,” was reviewed by setting up the first Student Teams and ensuring that the processes for managing Student Projects would be followed by the experienced students, with the new students being taught the planning system. Soon, all the students were ready for the first Student Project with anticipation. The formative tests were discovering misconceptions and inadequate preparation in alarming volume. The new students brought with them backgrounds that left some barely literate in arithmetic while others had extremely good preparation for studying STEM. ⇒A STEM System⇐ was intended to provide opportunities to address the needs of all the students and Bio hoped most students would respond. Those that continued to dally would get opportunities later to catch up. Bio hoped the peer pressures exerted during Student Projects might activate some of the some of the students having little academic motivation.


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⇒A STEM System⇐

Bio’s Self Inquisition Question/AREA

Traditional Course

Varied student readiness

Most of my students are 9th graders and their span of readiness for my course was shockingly broad.

I used lectures more than I should have to give all students equal opportunity and try to meet as many NGSS standards as possible. During some experiments and most exercises, Addressing student I collected students into homogeneous variation groups to correct misconceptions and advance their knowledge toward an acceptable minimum. Some students excelled; some faltered and are unlikely ever to understand as much STEM as they should.

Situation Under ⇒A STEM System⇐

The students readiness varies from the traditional worst to some who are ready for college STEM courses. Lectures for all students are used sparingly to emphasize connectedness of concepts and common procedures across STEM. Students are collected into homogeneous groups through the AI management program and their deficits attacked or their common knowledge is used as the base for advancing their knowledge/skills. Students quickly realize the Teacher Team will regularly address topics they do not understand sufficiently.


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Question/AREA

Individualized learning

Multidisciplinary needs

Traditional Course

⇒A STEM System⇐

Situation Under ⇒A STEM System⇐

Less used than desirable since students needed close supervision for most labs; good students individually asked questions frequently during exercises; help for poor students was interrupted; any behavior problem usually shut down the whole class. One teacher can do only so much.

The four-person Teacher Team enables at least one teacher to supervise the students in the general work area, while up to three other teachers worked their magic on homogeneous groups of students (or one). Even the 12th grader who had not understood a traditionally 9th grade topic got additional chances to address the topic.

Biology is my forte. I still have trouble with teaching about pH, even though it is critical for most biological systems. There are times when my expertise for a topic is less than students need.

At least one member of the Teacher Team will have good command for teaching almost any STEM topic. With a little planning, students can have access to that expertise at the teachable moments. If the expertise does not reside in the Teaching Team, a STEM Catalyst with strong command can be reached for advice through the Association we use. Students are able to explore any area of STEM, with Teacher Team approval, since STEM Catalysts in all fields are available to support specific Student Projects.


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⇒A STEM System⇐

Question/AREA

Traditional Course

Situation Under ⇒A STEM System⇐

Experimentation

Most experiments are undertaken to demonstrate principles or techniques. Often, students have only one opportunity to apply a skill.

Student Projects are the focus; experiments may be undertaken to develop skills needed for specific Student Projects. Skills are practiced before being applied to data collection to provide more accurate data for the final results. Repetitive data collection is frequent to provide a better statistical base for project results.

Developing planning and evaluation skills

Seldom available. Students work with “canned” experiments; project assignments usually are narrowly confined; real-world teamwork can seldom be modeled.

One objective of Student Projects is to teach organized planning and evaluation. Experienced students lead novice students through a planning cycle with oversight by the Lead Teacher. The STEM Catalyst also may comment on the planning processes and results of an individual Student Team.


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Question/AREA Motivation

Peer teaching

Teamwork

Student query skills

Traditional Course

⇒A STEM System⇐

Situation Under ⇒A STEM System⇐

Some students have strong motivation to study STEM; others have no such drive. Limited external resources are available.

STEM Dynamos, either live or recorded, can be used to motivate each student.

Some peer teaching is always likely, usually without oversight and without any teacher coaching to make the teaching more effective.

Peer teaching, especially during Student Projects, is cultivated by Teacher Teams. It is intended to supplement the efforts of Lead Teachers and the whole Teacher Team.

Partnering for experiments is common, but seldom prepares students for real teamwork.

The Teacher Team models teamwork continually. Teamwork is taught and students practice it during Student Projects.

Students usually are queried, but few develop the skill of asking effective questions. They usually do not have a responsibility for developing questions.

To maximize effectiveness and time efficiency for the STEM Catalysts, students are guided toward good questioning techniques by using guidance from support materials for the Student Projects and the Lead Teacher.


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Question/AREA

Traditional Course

⇒A STEM System⇐

Situation Under ⇒A STEM System⇐

Most STEM teachers have no non-academic experience for informing students about current careers and the best preparation for them. Research shows that the best career Career information information comes from persons engaged in the career, but only 17% of students have such contact before entering the work world.

Most STEM students should have significant contacts with at least 12 STEM Catalysts. The training for STEM Catalysts emphasizes the importance of providing career information during student contacts, which also improves the information base of the teachers. Information about internships and work experience opportunities also extends the information from teachers.

Popular STEM textbooks present well-thought through presentations of specific STEM areas and are supplemented in varied ways to aid homework and study. Additional materials may be applied to further enrich student experiences and provide opportunities for learning.

Resource textbooks and supplemental materials from all STEM areas must be provided. Many Student Projects may require information and data acquired from original sources. Some STEM Catalysts may make resources available to further promote the objectives of their Student Projects.

Textbooks and support materials


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Question/AREA

Traditional Course

Extracurricular STEM activities are available Real-world contact and used by students interested in STEM and who have time and transportation available.

Adding engineering

I have had no engineering contacts, so I can rely only on my instincts of what engineers do and how they approach problem-solving. My training has oriented me to only one solution fits most problems, while engineers appear to consider all possible solutions and choose the best for a set of conditions, where science is one of many considerations.

⇒A STEM System⇐

Situation Under ⇒A STEM System⇐ In addition to the extracurricular activities for some students, all STEM students have significant contact with STEM Catalysts, who are STEM Specialists. An engineering teacher should be part of the Teaching Team if possible; however, their numbers remain small. Most Student Projects contain engineering features to be addressed and STEM Catalysts are conversant with these features. Members of the Teaching Team with inadequate engineering expertise improve their capabilities with regular contact with the STEM Catalysts and steadily reduce the necessity of depending only on the external input.


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Question/AREA

Grades

Test program

⇒A STEM System⇐

Traditional Course

Situation Under ⇒A STEM System⇐

All students proceed lockstep through a course, Two opportunities are given for most content to demonstrate level of knowledge: 1) at end of class treatment of the subject and 2) in final exam for the grading period.

Two grades are given: 1) Foundation and 2) Conceptual. Passing a passing level Conceptual grade enables graduation. Readiness for further STEM study is provided by the Foundation grade. Good grades for both suggest student is ready for regular STEM courses after high school.

Teacher generated or selected from other sources. Mostly summative.

Formative tests used extensively. Students need to show mastery at a level specified by the Teacher Team. Until that level is reached for specific content, each student must continue returning to study that content as available


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Question/AREA

Support from within school

Support external to school

⇒A STEM System⇐

Traditional Course

Situation Under ⇒A STEM System⇐

Except for large urban and suburban schools, most STEM teachers have no colleagues with the same expertise. The STEM teacher may be supported well by his/her department and school administration; however, there is little assistance available for addressing content matters.

STEM teachers are members of Teaching Teams. Many curriculum and pedagogical matters are addressed by the Teaching Team. Smooth operation in classes requires the Team to plan and work cooperatively and supportively. When only single units of an apparatus may be supported by the school budget, the unit will be equally available for all STEM areas needing access to it.

External support for STEM instruction usually is provided through a parent/teacher group that aids the entire school. Field trips give students some understanding of STEM operations and require significant time and resources for planning and implementation.

Single organizations and/or an advisory committee can support STEM work directly with personnel and/or equipment, The Association for STEM Catalysts and STEM Dynamos provides convenient access to STEM Specialists, thus requiring fewer field rips, while gaining detailed access to many more organizations than possible with field trips.

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Bioteacher