Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Engineering has Taken off in Mrs. Rallings Class!

   Nationally there is a big push for student interest and careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). The Moore County School District has embraced this push and has currently integrated an engineering thread into the K-5 science and math curriculum. This thread offers teachers two projects, one with robotics and one without. Lessons were created by staff this summer and are meant to last several days. 
   The teachers at Pinehurst Elementary, in Moore County, have welcomed this new addition with open arms! The students are eager to do science and participate with friends on engineering design. Mrs. Kathy Rallings, first grade teacher at Pinehurst Elementary, has gone above and beyond with integrating STEM into her classroom. Her students not only know the design process, and can recite it, but they have developed perseverance when solving problems related to STEM. "You have to be like an engineer and keep going until you solve the problem", says one of Mrs. Rallings first graders. 

I asked Mrs. Rallings her thoughts on incorporating STEM into her classroom and these were her thoughts:

    1. What did you know about STEM prior to this year?

Prior to this year I really thought of STEM as robotics and activities for older students.

     2. Do you feel the STEM lessons have excited your kids about learning science?

The exciting thing about STEM lessons is that every child is given an opportunity to be creative, be a problem solver and to work cooperatively with others.  So you may see a student that is not engaged in reading or math, but in the STEM lesson this particular student might actually take the lead and excel. This student gets to feel a sense of accomplishment he may never feel during the course of a reading task or math activity. 

    3. What is the most enjoyable part of teaching these lessons to your kids?

The most enjoyable part of teaching these lessons for me as an educator is taking a step back and letting the students take the initiative with their partner or group in solving the problem or challenge with the STEM lesson.

    4. What has been your best memory so far?
Seeing your students guide each other, encourage each other, and work through the challenge of a STEM lesson is a memorable moment for me. Just the other day, I saw a particular student who usually does not work well with his peers and does not work cooperatively with others, showing such kindness and understanding as he helped his STEM partner through the blog questions for our Global Read Aloud book, The Troublemaker. 

     5. Do you have any advice for other teachers thinking about incorporating STEM in their classrooms?

My advice for other teachers would be, go ahead, jump in head first and try at least one STEM lesson each week. Rise to the challenge and your students will guide you through the learning process. That’s what true learning is. It’s the process not the product.

    I look forward to many more STEM lessons throughout this year in Moore County. A huge thank you to Mrs. Rallings on her willingness to try something different and embracing a change in her classroom!

~Deanna Boesch

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