STEM Elements

Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 7.06.59 AM.pngOne of our most popular regional events is the “STEM and Digital Technologies” workshop we offer. Teachers have a day to explore both the pedagogy of STEM and get hands on with a range of technologies, from Sphero SPRK+, to low tech gear like popsical sticks and ping pong balls! You can see a Twitter moment here which gives you a small window into the action!

This week I’ve been updating some of the material we share on the day and I’ve adjusted this graphic of the ‘STEM Elements’, based on based on the book, “STEM Lesson Essentials, Grades 3-8” by Jo Anne Vasquez, Cary Sneider, Michael Comer. STEM ELEMENTS (1)


These elements are a great way to make the important aspects of STEM stand out for teachers and I also encourage them to use these four elements as a planning guide when they’re preparing to engage students in STEM. When we have an empty box it forces us to fill it in! It’s a helpful way to help us engrain this thinking when we are starting out and a good technique to foster new pedagogies into our school culture.

STEM ELEMENTS planning (1).png

Here are some images from the workshop ran last Wednesday. If you’d like to host a regional STEM event at your school, or have me work exclusively with your staff, contact me here on Twitter or use the contact widget on this page.



Online Planning

It’s the start of term 2 and I’m flat out planning. Every teacher knows this joy… sometimes. Planning, I’ve found, is the key to having a successful day in the classroom.

When you’re at teacher’s college it’s something that you come to resent because of the marking / assessment purpose – especially when you know that the chances of actually teaching what you plan is small. Now that I’ve got some time under my belt I’ve become a planning fan. There’s nothing better than stumbling on a resource or an idea that you are excited to use.

Here are two ways I’m using some online planning resources for this term. The first resource, mindmeister, is something I saw Nick Rate use and really liked. This mind mapping application lets you create an overview of the term. Each curriculum area has the activity or focus described and then, what I really like, you can create the links between them. You can see the links I’ve made with the inquiry topic of cultural diversity.

You can also add online links, download it as a pdf / jpg etc and also share the map with others online and have them add or edit the map. Brilliant. Here’s an embeded version you can interact with – students love making these and putting them into their efolios, too.

I’m also using this online planning resource found on the Ministry of Education website, TKI. It’s a social studies inquiry planner that walks you through the steps. I really liked the colour coding of conceptual understandings, thinking and reflective steps. It’s very visual (important to me), interactive, downloable and easily edited throughout the term.

I’m still a fan of pen and paper. I’ve become a hybrid planner you could say but these two sites show how we can use a digital format to create, edit, share and plan for the benefit of our students.

Image used under creative commons from MarkKelley, via