STEM Lesson Essentials: Integrating Science, Tech, Engineering, & Math

STEM Lesson Essentials, Grades 3 – 8: Integrating Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
By Jo Anne Vasquez, Michael Comer and Cary Sneider
(Heinemann, 2013 – Learn more)

Sandy WisneskiReviewed by Sandy Wisneski

Often I hear from fellow teachers that they don’t know how to start implementing a STEM program in their classroom and wish there was a workshop they could attend to learn more about the subject. Workshops may not be readily available, but books like STEM Lesson Essentials can be a beneficial resource when starting down the STEM path.

STEM Lesson Essentials, Grades 3 – 8 wisneskiStem Lesson Essentials is a fast read – neatly organized in a systematic, easy-to-follow way. The first five chapters are essential reading when starting out in STEM. Chapter 2 defines “STEM Literacy” while chapter 3 lists “five guiding principles for effective STEM instruction.” Teachers often do not realize that they may already be a STEM teacher, but with the components of this book they may see how they have already begun implementing parts of a STEM program.

Activities and reassurances

Throughout the book are practical and engaging STEM activities to start any novice along the STEM path. The book highlights three approaches to integrated STEM. The first point addressed is that standards are not abandoned. Second, “the real power of STEM lies in the integration of the subject areas so that students see how the concepts and skills from different disciplines can work together to help them answer intriguing questions and solve meaningful problems.”

This observation rings true to me. Students need to see how all the pieces fit together in learning. When content comes together through the STEM model, the strength is found in the ebb and flow of the various contents. This approach is rich and relevant and captures the interest of students. The authors explain varied examples and models in depth. Diagrams and illustrations clearly demonstrate the power of STEM.

STEM Lesson Essentials is a practical guide for the novice and offers a refreshing reminder of what STEM means to the experienced teacher. It is well-organized with easy to follow examples and would be perfect for a book study for any group starting along the STEM journey.

Sandy Wisneski is lead teacher at Catalyst Charter Middle School which opened in the fall of 2013. She is the district webmaster, tech mentor, and yearbook advisor as well as new teacher mentor. Over the past 37 years she has become certified as a Flat Classroom Teacher and obtained her masters in reading. She enjoys challenging students to “take ownership” for their learning and to be effective digital citizens in the world.

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