Archive for the ‘T-STEM’ Category

T-STEM Project-Based Learning: Craft a Driving Question

Monday, February 13th, 2012

T-STEM Project-Based Learning:

The Texas High School Project (2010) defines Texas Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Project-Based Learning (T-STEM PBL) as an inquiry-based instructional approach, in a real-world context, where students generate pathways and products that meet defined, standards-based outcomes.  This broad definition outlines the basic tenets of project-based learning that facilitate the integration of STEM and non-STEM disciplines.  Specifically, T-STEM PBL places an emphasis on providing a rigorous learning experience for students by meshing PBL principles with STEM concepts thereby increasing both student engagement and connectedness to real-world STEM issues.

The National Science Foundation (2007) states, “In the 21st century, scientific and technological innovations have become increasingly important as we face the benefits and challenges of both globalization and a knowledge-based economy.  To succeed in this new information-based and highly technological society, all students need to develop their capabilities in STEM to levels much beyond what was considered acceptable in the past.”  Through the integration of PBL and STEM, students engage in complex problem-solving that allows for multiple solutions while fostering research and collaboration.  Additionally, these authentic tasks allow students to develop skills and technical vocabulary utilized in specific STEM career fields.  The Transformation 2013 T-STEM Center provides PBL support to teachers as they learn to write driving questions that spark interest and propel students through a project.

Craft a Driving Question:

When a teacher begins planning a PBL, knowing the reasons why driving questions are used will assist in developing the right question for a project.  When students ask “Why are we doing this?” or “When will I ever need this?” the rationale for using driving questions becomes apparent:

  • To promote student interest:  The purpose of a driving question is to give students a reason to solve a problem or issue facing them.  Good driving questions will promote student interest and generate excitement for the upcoming tasks.
  • To direct students toward project goals:  Students often do projects without seeing the purpose behind it.  With a driving question students will have clear direction towards the project goals.
  • To address authentic concerns:  Driving questions should address authentic concerns.  How is the material used in the real world?  Select a question that would make the material relevant to the student.

An intriguing driving question is at the heart of an effective project, setting the tone for the entire PBL and focusing on the overarching concept of the PBL.  To consider how the guiding question relates to the real world, take the “big idea” for the project (what students will accomplish) and convert it into a realistic problem-based scenario that an employee might experience in the workplace.  Next, craft this into a problem or question that cannot be easily solved or answered.  It should be open-ended and composed of many parts that students can explore on a variety of levels.  Driving questions should elicit higher-level thinking, and students should be expected to use their critical thinking skills in order to derive an answer to the question.

Driving questions must also be linked to learning objectives so that students are gaining both knowledge and skills as they work towards the project’s answer.  Furthermore, the driving question must emphasize a high level of challenge so that students are not simply walking through review activities, but are fully engaged throughout the process.  Finally, when developing a driving question and PBL lessons, it is important to keep in mind the scope and sequence of both district curricula and the TEKS.

Four types of driving questions
There are four types of driving questions:

1.       Abstract, conceptual:  An abstract driving question is one that is answered by conceptual analysis. These questions are answered through logical argument.  There is no single, correct answer, and it is not easy to answer these questions with a one-word answer.  Students will need to justify their response to these abstract, conceptual questions through a variety of activities.  Examples:

  • What makes a book a classic?
  • When do we grow up?
  • Should art be censored?

2.       Concrete:  A concrete driving question is one that is answered mainly by the analysis of empirical evidence.  Students will need to do research to prove their answer.  In this case, there is a right answer, but there are several ways to approach the answer.  Examples:

  • Why did the dinosaurs become extinct?
  •  Is the water in our town safe to drink?
  • What effect does population growth have on our community?

3.       Problem-Solving:  A problem-solving driving question is answered by offering a reasonable solution.  For a problem-solving question, students have to work together to generate a solution to the problem.  Examples:

  • How can the government use monetary and fiscal policy to address an economic crisis?
  •  How can we create an effective networking system for a corporation?

4.       Design Challenge:  A design challenge driving question is answered by creating and executing a design that effectively meets requirements.  Here, the students are to use the engineering design process to answer the question.  Examples:

  • How can we design a local theatre that meets size limits and seats the most people?
  • How can we design a museum exhibit about World War II so that it appeals to diverse groups in our city?

The development of a driving question is central to the inquiry process and it must be established before deciding on project activities.  Furthermore, the natural outcome of effective project-based learning is a project completely driven by the question or problem statement and facilitated by the teacher.  To obtain more information on PBL and driving questions, view the following videos and contact us via our Transformation 2013 website (www.transformation2013.org).

Videos:

Watershed Project: Craft the Driving Question
http://www.bie.org/videos/video/watershed_project_craft_the_driving_question

The Gender Project: Craft the Driving Question
http://www.bie.org/videos/video/the_gender_project_craft_the_driving_question

References

 

 

Larmer, J., Ross, D., & Mergendoller, J. (2009).  PBLStarter Kit: To-the-point Advice, Tools and Tips for 
Your FirstProject in Middle or High School.  Novato,CA:  Buck Institute for Education.

National Science Foundation (2007) “National Action Plan for Addressing the Critical Needs of the U.S.

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education System.” Retrieved February 1, 2012, http://www.nsf.gov/nsb/documents/2007/stem_action.pdf

Texas High School Project (2010).  “Texas Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics Academy

Design Blueprint, Rubric, and Glossary.”  Retrieved February 1, 2012,
http://thsp.org/assets/ee/uploads/pdf/TSTEM_design_blueprint_11-15-2010.pdf

STEM: Top 10 Resources

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Transformation 2013 T-STEM Center

http://www.transformation2013.org

Transformation 2013 T-STEM Center is a partnership between ESC Region XIII in Austin and ESC Region 20 in San Antonio. Transformation 2013 T-STEM Center serves central Texas and El Paso T-STEM Academies as well as other schools focusing on innovative Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) instruction. The vision of Transformation 2013 is to provide the highest quality professional development, curriculum, and outreach programs emphasizing hands-on problem-based learning to create superior STEM scholars. Our “Top 10 STEM Resources” are cited below including a summary of each resource and a hyperlink to each full-text document.

1. Bybee, R. W. (2010, September). Advancing STEM Education: A 2020 Vision. The Technology and Engineering Teacher, 70(1), 30-35. http://curriculumreform.wikispaces.com/file/view/Advancing+STEM+Education.pdf

This document details the phases and goals of a decade-long STEM action plan to move STEM education beyond the slogan to make STEM literacy for all students a national priority. Initially, the purpose of STEM literacy must be clarified, and then the challenges to advancing STEM education must be addressed. Furthermore, the STEM curriculum will be advanced by presenting challenges or problems framed in life and work contexts involving STEM to engage students.

2. Fulton, K., & Britton, T. (2011, June). STEM Teachers in Professional Learning Communities: From Good Teachers to Great Teaching. Retrieved November 2, 2011, from National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future: http://www.nctaf.org/documents/NCTAFreportSTEMTeachersinPLCsFromGoodTeacherstoGreatTeaching.pdf

The research compiled in this executive summary is based on a National Science Foundation‐funded project: STEM Teachers in Professional Learning Communities: A Knowledge Synthesis. The NSF Knowledge Synthesis indicates that STEM learning teams have positive effects on STEM teachers and their teaching, and students of teachers participating in STEM professional learning communities achieve higher success in math.

3. Hill, C., Corbett, C., & St. Rose, A. (2010). Why so few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Retrieved November 2, 2011, from American Association of University Women: http://www.aauw.org/learn/research/upload/whysofew.pdf

This study was conducted by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) on the underrepresentation of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The summary emphasizes practical ways that families, schools and communities can create an environment of encouragement that can overcome negative stereotypes about the capacity of women in these demanding fields.

4. ITEEA. (2003). Advancing Excellence in Technological Literacy: Student Assessment, Professional Development, and Program Standards. Retrieved November 2, 2011, from International Technology and Engineering Educators Association: http://www.iteaconnect.org/TAA/PDFs/AETL.pdf

As a companion document to the Standards for Technological Literacy listed below, this document provides a guideline for implementation of the standards in K-12 classrooms. It details important topics such as student assessment, professional development, and program enhancement, while leaving specific curricular decisions to teachers, schools, districts, and states.

5. ITEEA. (2007). Standards for Technological Literacy. Retrieved November 2, 2011, from International Technology and Engineering Educators Association http://www.iteaconnect.org/TAA/PDFs/xstnd.pdf

The content standards and related benchmarks indicate what all students need to know and be able to do to achieve technological literacy. The Standards for Technological Literacy provide the foundation upon which the study of technology is built.

6. Langdon, D., McKittrick, G., Beede, D., & Doms, M. (2011, July). STEM: Good Jobs Now and for the Future. Retrieved November 2, 2011, from Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration: http://www.esa.doc.gov/sites/default/files/reports/documents/stemfinalyjuly14_1.pdf

Growth in STEM jobs occurred three times as fast as growth in non-STEM jobs in the last ten years and as a result, U.S. businesses are expressing concerns with the availability of STEM workers. STEM occupations are projected to grow 17% between 2008 and 2018 compared to less than 10% growth for non-STEM occupations; therefore, STEM workers will play a significant role in future growth and stability of the United States.

7. Sanders, M. (2009, December/January). STEM, STEM Education, STEMmania. The Technology Teacher, 20-26. http://www.iteaconnect.org/Publications/AAAS/TTT%20STEM%20Article_1.pdf

The origin of STEM, the current status of how integrative STEM education is addressed for teachers and students, and the systematic changes that are needed to approach integrative STEM education are discussed. In a world where the STEM pipeline problem has been widely publicized, this article addresses the question “Why Integrative STEM Education?” rather than conventional STEM education to achieve technological literacy for all.

8. Texas High School Project. (2010, November 15). T-STEM Design Blueprint. Retrieved November 2, 2011, from THSP: http://www.thsp.org/assets/ee/uploads/pdf/TSTEM_design_blueprint_11-15-2010.pdf

Used by T-STEM academies, the T-STEM design blueprint, rubric, and glossary serve as a guideline for building and sustaining STEM schools. The blueprint addresses seven benchmarks: 1) mission driven leadership; 2) school culture and design; 3) student outreach, recruitment, and retention; 4) teacher selection, development and retention; 5) curriculum, instruction, and assessment; 6) strategic alliances; and 7) academy advancement and sustainability.

9. The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. (2010, September). Prepare and Inspire: K-12 Education in STEM for America’s Future. Retrieved November 2, 2011, from The White House: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/pcast-stemedreport.pdf

The recommendations in this report suggest five priorities that provide a roadmap for achieving our STEM vision: “(1) improve Federal coordination and leadership on STEM education; (2) support the state-led movement to ensure that the Nation adopts a common baseline for what students learn in STEM; (3) cultivate, recruit, and reward STEM teachers that prepare and inspire students; (4) create STEM-related experiences that excite and interest students of all backgrounds; and (5) support states and school districts in their efforts to transform schools into vibrant STEM learning environments.”

10. U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development. (2010, March). ESEA Blueprint for Reform. Retrieved November 2, 2011, from United States Department of Education: http://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/blueprint/blueprint.pdf

In providing students a complete world-class education and college and career readiness, we must strengthen STEM instruction and standards. The availability of grants will support the strengthening of state-wide STEM programs, and support districts in identifying effective instructional materials and improving teachers’ knowledge and skills in STEM instruction for all students.


Article by Karissa Poszywak
STEM Specialist
Transformation 2013 T-STEM Center at ESC Region XIII
Email: Karissa.poszywak@esc13.txed.net
Phone: 512-919-5139
Website: www.transformation2013.org

Special thanks to Joules Webb, STEM Specialist at ESC Region 20, for recommending these top ten resources.