Happy National STEM Day! To celebrate, we’re bringing you strategies from three STEM Master Teachers from our Blended Learning Master Teacher Project. These talented educators share the strategies and blended learning models they use every day in their classrooms! Our Master Teachers also share their personal reflections and real-life insights into what worked, and tips to ensure successful implementation of the strategies.
Check out the full Blended Learning Master Teacher Project, or keep reading for profiles of some prominent STEM Master Teachers from the project.
9th Grade Earth Science
Jessi taught high school science (Earth Science, Astronomy, and Physics) in Deer Lodge, Montana. After five years of traditional teaching, she broke away from direct instruction and moved into a self-paced, blended-gamified classroom. Her students flexibly move through the curriculum while self-directing and managing their learning. This is done through the use of Classcraft, an online education gaming software, and her classroom game Isle of Nosredna. The addition of game elements into her classroom has helped students stay on track and motivated as they progress through the science curriculum.
Jessi started blending her classes as her students became more technologically savvy and interested in challenging the traditional aspects of the curriculum, including lectures and worksheets. It was at this point that she knew that she needed to move to a more inquiry-based and student-directed classroom. After a year of hauling mobile labs to her classroom, her school went 1:1 with iPads which made the leap into blended easier. This shift has been a game changer in her practice and for the students she loves to teach.
10th Grade Geometry
Shortly after he started teaching, Ben came to the realization that his students were holding themselves to a low standard. Putting numbers and equations on a piece of paper without understanding what they wrote was “good enough” for many of his students. Tired of accepting low quality work and convinced that his students could do better, Ben decided to move to a Flipped Mastery model to hold students accountable for actual learning.
In the Flipped Mastery model, students watch the lessons that have been posted on the class website, answer a set of practice problems to hone their skills, and take a mastery quiz to show they have understood the material when they feel ready. If they pass, they move onto the next lesson. If they fail, they have to do another practice assignment before retrying. Flipped Mastery has moved Ben’s students from just "doing math" to engaging in true problem solving and understanding.
Jeff began his teaching career at the beginning of the blended learning era and jumped headfirst into the realm of digital education. Leveraging a variety of high-quality online resources allows him to meet the learning needs of each of his incredible students. Engaging students with complex scientific content means making each topic come to life through media capture, gamified learning, website creation, real-world performance tasks, and social networking.
His students design and develop experiments to answer food-themed, guiding questions that he poses at the beginning of each class. After collecting data and recording the process with video cameras for further analysis, his students create digital portfolios to display their results and present their claims. Exemplar work is made available to the public, and Jeff hopes that by expanding the capacity with which his students can share their work, he can make the process more meaningful and comprehensive. It is his belief that if our young learners get a chance to interact intimately with the science that permeates the world we live in, then we can create the next generation of innovators, critical thinkers, and problem-solvers in our classrooms.
Looking for more inspiration to encourage your K-12 students to fall in love with STEM subjects? Check out our Science Master Teacher Project, where you’ll find NGSS-aligned strategies and lesson plans for every grade in every science subject.