PBAS STEM 1 – What is STEM and what does it look like?

Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) is a focus for DECD, see DECD STEM Works and the Federal Government, see Restoring the focus on STEM in schools initiative and Federal government unveils boost for maths and science in schools. It is an area we need to be prepared to develop and inspire our students in.

This is the first in a series of posts that will help us to have discussions about STEM and how we can develop this area at Port Broughton Area School. By the end of 2016 I hope every teacher involved in STEM based subjects R-10 can not only answer the following question but feels confident and supported to implement their answer.

In 2017 what STEM project will I undertake with my students?

So what is STEM?

  • The STEM approach to teaching and learning gives students the opportunity to work on challenging problems and projects.
  • It makes students aware of the connections between science, technology, engineering and maths and the importance of each to successfully solving problems in the real world.
  • It’s about a range of staff collaborating to show students the connections, for example a Year 5/6 STEM project could involve Paul contributing perspectives from maths and science while Tim provides expertise to support students with design and digital technologies.
  • Students experiment, use old and new technologies, test ideas and make and create innovative solutions to real and complex problems.
  • Real depth is given to STEM projects when partnerships are formed with local industries within the community.
  • STEM will look different across every class at every school.
  • Students identify needs and opportunities, visualise and generate ideas, plan and develop solutions and evaluate products and processes.

Information about what STEM is was provided by Jim Goodall, Maitland Area School.

What can STEM look like in the classroom?

Year 2 STEM Project

2015 ACARA STEM Connections Merici College, Canberra

Kings School Student Project

Bee Bot Art Project – This is an adult project but it does not take much imagination to see how this could be applied to a Year 1/2, 3/4 or 5/6 class. Design a piece of art created by Bee Bots!

Professional reading from Facebook and Twitter Part 13

Reading number 1

Source: You Tube

You Tube Video: How you can be good at math, and other surprising facts about learning | Jo Boaler

Posted on Twitter by  @TurraNick

Reading number 2

Blog: Teacher Solutions

Blog post: To Mark or not to Mark, that is the question

Posted on Facebook by  Karen Cornelius in the group Share Network for the Australian Curriculum, SA – SNAC SA

Reading number 3

Blog: Global Digital Citizen Foundation

Blog post: Giving Student Feedback: 7 Best Practices for Success

Posted on Facebook by  Brenton Wilson in the group TfEL Teachers’ Companion

Modelling goal setting to students

In her Year 1/2 class Ange works with her students to develop a learning goal each term. These are laminated and placed on the student desks and referenced regularly through the term.

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Ange helps the students to keep focussed on their goals by having students record each time they do something that helps them work towards achieving their goal.

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She also hands out “Goal Striver of the Week” awards to help keep students attention on their goals and provide positive reinforcement.

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While Ange spends considerable time and effort working with her students to reach their goals she also shares her own goals with students. Ange discusses her goals with students and models the process of working towards a goal. It helps to show students that working towards a goal is hard and does not always go smoothly, even for adults.

What Ange is doing is an excellent example of how teachers can model the behaviours they expect from their students.

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Year 1/2 students from Cummins Area School use iPads to retell stories

The following videos show how a Year 1 and 2 class at Cummins Area School used iPads to create multimodal texts to retell stories.

A great way to engage and challenge students to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of stories they have been reading.

Retelling Stories By Creating A Multimodal Text

Retelling stories – students’ perspective

The Forest as told by Year 1/2 students

These videos are from the Teaching and Learning You Tube Channel

Text to Speech – How to make the MacBook and iPad work for students with reading difficulties

It is important that students with reading difficulties receive support to access written text. A great way to support students with reading difficulties is to set up their iPad or MacBook to convert text to speech. This does not replace the need to learn to read but is a way to break down a barrier while students are developing their reading skills.

There are times when it is important and necessary for students to access content in a timely manner so they can get on with their learning. This can't be done if a student with reading difficulties is required to sit and read large chunks of text.

Text to Speech on the iPad

Text to speech on a MacBook

Creating bilingual books with Book Creator

In term 1 Alison worked with the Year 5/6 Spanish class to create Spanish/English bilingual books.

The unit of work was titled las vacaciones – Que te gusta hacer? or holidays – What do you like to do?

Students learnt lots of pass time activities in Spanish such as dancing, playing  sport, swimming, singing etc. They learnt how to say whether they like doing those activities or not – me gusta  (I like)  or  no me gusta ( I don’t like).

The students assessment task was to design a bilingual ebook suitable for a preschool aged child titled What do you like to do? Que te gusta hacer? The books required  a repetitive sentence throughout  “do you like ………..? using the various activity words that they had learnt during the term.  The book needed to be colourful with large font suitable for a young child.  The text was required to be in Spanish and English with audio also in Spanish and English.

At the end of term 1 the Year 5/6 students shared their books with the Reception/Year 1 class.

This task  addresses TfEL Domain 4 Personalise and connect learning.
Element 4.3 apply and assess learning in authentic contexts
- Ensures demonstration of learning to real audiences (Reception/Year 1 class)
Element 4.4 communicate learning in multiple modes
- Encourages the use of a range of media for communicating learning (communicating through an ebook - this was something new and different to previous methods of communicating learning)
- Engages learners in practical activities to develop understanding (creation of an ebook)

Year 9/10 English – A Current Affair

During term 1 Justin’s Year 9/10 English class completed a unit of work investigating the television program A Current Affair.

This involved students:

  • Accessing a range of A Current Affair stories.
  • Discussing the structure of the stories and how this structure is repeated in every story.
  • Completing a 500 word essay comparing and contrasting two ACA segments.
  • Producing their own ACA story using the iPads and MacBooks.
  • Writing a 300 word self evaluation of their ACA story. Assessment included planning/script, storyboarding, group work, message/purpose and videography.
The scaffolding that Justin provided students was excellent and gave students every opportunity to do well in this unit of work. The following are some of the scaffolding documents provided to the students.

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Students planned and produced their own A Current Affair story. They used the iPads to record video footage and iMovie on their MacBooks to edit and produce the final product.

Find out what your students think

The TfEL Review Tools Handbook asks us to view our teaching through three lenses.

  • Self Reflection
  • Peer Feedback
  • Student Feedback

Self Reflection

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This term we have self-reflected on our teaching using the TfEL Reflection document. We will continue to use this document in term 2 until we have reflected on each of Domains and Elements (2, 3, & 4).

Peer Feedback

Classroom observations provide us with the opportunity for a peer to help us focus on a specific area of our teaching. It also provides the observer the chance to experience another teacher’s classroom and see how they teach.

In week 1 of term 2 we will be reflecting on how this process is going at PBAS and discuss the positives and negatives teachers have experienced so far. The purpose of this will be to collect information so that leadership and teachers can refine and improve the process to make it as effective as possible.

Student Feedback

From my perspective this area seems to be the one that many teachers are hesitant to engage in. This is not to say that it doesn’t occur. I am aware that some PBAS teachers have sought feedback from their students about their teaching.

This process does not need to be complicated or drawn out. In my 9/10 class I asked students to write the top 3 things teachers did to support their learning. Click here to read all 41 responses and see how I developed the following four questions based on these responses.

  1. [insert teacher name] explains clearly what is required for the tasks given to you.
  2. [insert teacher name] provides examples of how tasks should be done to help me complete my learning.
  3. [insert teacher name] talks too much in class.
  4. [insert teacher name] is organised for class.

For questions 1, 2 and 4 students had the option to select Excellent, Good, Satisfactory, Partial and Minimal. For question 3 students could select Talks too much, Talks the right amount and Does not talk enough (needs to explain more). While these questions are limited and do not cover every aspect of teaching they do cover what PBAS Year 9/10’s believe is important with regards to teachers supporting their learning. If we are looking for student feedback why wouldn’t we start with what is important to them?

Teachers of 9/10 students at PBAS could use the four questions above knowing that this is what our students believe best supports their learning. I used the online tool Socrative which is easy to use and provides collated Excel and PDF versions of student responses. Adding this feedback to my own reflection and peer observations is helping me to understand areas in my teaching that I can work on and develop.

NB – I would like to try and find some time to run a spotlight session on how to use Socrative if there is some interest from other teachers. With MacBooks and iPads available to use in classrooms it has great potential.

Below: Keen to learn more about Socrative right now? An easy to use tool for quizzing students about subject content or to seek feedback about your teaching. 

Formative Assessment using BaM Video Delay app in PE

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BaM Video Delay is an app that records video and then delays that video for a specified time allowing the athlete to look up after their performance and watch themselves performing a skill or movement sequence.

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There is no need to press record or play back the video. The app continuously replays what is happening in front of the camera on a delay (set by the student or teacher). The app allows you to delay the video being shown so that the student can complete the skill and have time to view their performance. Students then use this feedback to adjust their performance.

The examples in this post are receptions students practicing their overarm throwing technique and year 9/10 students practicing a forehand topspin drive in table tennis.

Below is the process I used for the Receptions and the Year 9/10 students. Part of both processes was to ensure students knew what they are looking for so corrections can be made.

Receptions (overhand throw)

  • Discussion about the importance of the opposite foot stepping forward when throwing.
  • Discussion about what opposite meant and how this related to our hands and feet.
  • I gave a demonstration which was recorded. We played it back on the big screen discussing if I had used my opposite foot and how did we know.
  • The class watched each other perform the skill and then turned to view the big screen and decide if the student had used their opposite foot. Ideally this would be done in smaller groups but as we were learning how the app worked we did it as a class.
  • The Receptions were only looking at one thing: Was the opposite foot used? This was easily visible from watching it live. However the chance to re-watch it and confirm their decision was useful. The app becomes more powerful the more areas of focus you have. If the Receptions had to make multiple decisions, for example, look for the use of opposite foot, standing side on and pointing in the direction of the target after the throw then the delayed video becomes more valuable.
  • While throwing in front of the camera was voluntary no one opted out. In fact, they were pushing each other out of the way to see themselves on the big screen.

Year 9/10 (table tennis – topspin forehand)

  • We viewed a video of a correctly performed topspin forehand. Four major points were taken from the video and written on the white board for students to have as a reference point.
  • The video was viewed twice and the four points discussed before students had a go.
  • Students then watched their performance, had a discussion with me and then had a go at using that feedback to improve.
  • While not all students improved in the limited time available a couple of students surprised themselves with a dramatic improvement in the amount of topspin and power they achieved using this process.

The app allows for a single screen or 4 screens. the receptions used a single screen as they didn’t require multiple views to make their decision. The Year 9/10 students used 4 screens, each delayed slightly more than the other (7 second intervals) allowing each shot to be viewed 4 times one after the other.

This is the first time I have used BaM Video Delay. The app has great potential to be used on a regular basis in physical education classes as a formative assessment tool.