STEAM & PBL
The acronym STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, & Mathematics. Our academic curriculum stresses innovative, purposeful, and thematic teaching. This means that we are always striving to put student learning in context, and attaching purpose. While we are preparing students to for careers and the responsibilities of active citizenship, we are also focusing on projects that have an immediate impact. Students are able to see the utility of their learning as it unfolds through our project calendar. In order to align these projects with our district curriculum and Common Core Standards, we plan projects ahead of time using the Buck Institute model for Project Based Learning (bie.org). To read more about how PBL functions, read the article entitled “The Main Course, Not Desserts” can be found in our articles tab.
This year, we will have daily blocks focusing on different areas of study. While the activity done during that time will be subject to change, it will always function as a time to work on skills in that particular area. However, there will be days where every block (or most blocks) is thematically linked to project work. This will occur whenever possible, and will happen more often than not. Our blocks break down thusly: 15 minute morning meeting, 1 hour for math, 1 hour for specials (on most days - one day a week will be 1.5 hours for project support and coding), 0.5 hours for word work ~0.5 hours after lunch for peaceful time, 0.25 hours for a reading mini lesson, 1 hour for reading, 0.5 hours for writing, 1 hour for project time (this will be dedicated to project time for PBL, time to learn and actively engage in science and social studies content, and time dedicated to our PLTW curriculum), and finally 0.25 hours for a closing circle.
We will be using the EM4 curriculum for math, which is now more closely aligned to Common Core State Standards. This will be extremely helpful for aligning our project calendars. We will use a mixture of the Fountas & Pinnell curriculum for word work, as well as Words Their Way, which aligns more closely to individual student development. For reading and writing we will be using Fountas & Pinnell and Lucy Calkins for basic structure and theoretical implementation. We will also be referencing Nell Duke’s work for aligning literacy content with Project Based Learning as we implement our units of study. Our entire science content was elegantly mapped to the Next Generation Science Standards, which focuses on integrating science with engineering and technology, along with revisiting enduring thematic world issues as students move through grades. Much of our PLTW (Project Lead the Way) curriculum is aligned to NGSS, but for the content that isn’t covered, we will be teaching through PBL structured project work.