Putting STEM to Work in the Classroom: Help Is Needed and RE@L Provides It!

real logo hi resThe internet is full of information about implementing STEM in the K12 curriculum. It’s not that there’s a lack of good ideas – in fact, they abound. The problem is how do we make STEM happen so more kids can access these new, real-world learning activities and learn from them?

STEMBlogs, Facebook posts and Twitter Tweets also provide places for busy teachers to go to find STEM suggestions. They all do a fine, albeit different job of bringing together useful resources.  There’s a cornucopia of good ideas, but where is the set of teaching and learning tools needed to make STEM come alive in the classroom?

Teachers who want STEM to happen in their classrooms are faced with the burden of determining which ideas to use and how to fit it in their already busy classrooms. They want to know how to make STEM work for them and their students.

UnknownAll these social media tips seem to result in an underlying message from puzzled classroom teachers: Will someone out there please turn these ideas into tested products with workable instructions? Teachers don’t want to “wing it” by cobbling together their own untested homemade lesson plans! It ends up wasting time and taking all the steam out of STEM.

Expecting each teacher to design the STEM process and create the needed tools by perusing a mountain of so-called “helpful resources” is asking too much. Worse, it’s not going to result in the Systemic Change that’s essential to the current STEM Movement. Teachers just don’t have the time and expertise to make STEM happen on their own.

Here’s why our current efforts with STEM aren’t working in the classrooms:

  • Scarce Time: Classroom teaching is already more than a full time job. Developing the materials is an even more demanding job.
  • Inadequate Training: Teachers are not prepared, nor do they have the time to research, design, develop and manufacture effective learning materials.
  • Lack of Expertise: The sophistication level of the classroom learning materials needed for STEM excludes all but a very few teachers.

STEMfieldworkThe STEM movement has envisioned comprehensive, effective teaching and learning materials for classrooms across the country. What’s missing, however, is a complete set of materials and an effective delivery processes for additional educational resources. Our REAL STEM model is designed to do this, and all that needs to be done is put it into place.

The millions of new 1:1 iPads being put in classrooms across the country can also deliver STEM resources and the  content: lesson ideas and plans for the teacher, templates for student work and reporting, listings of effective resources, related project ideas, rubrics to measure student progress, and a means of demonstrating student and team learning competencies and achievements.

RE@L STEM icon_RGBHere’s our RE@L STEM plan:

1. Create a tested package of new teaching and learning products that bring STEM to the K12 market.

2. Make these tested products readily available to K12 schools to meet stringent STEM requirements.

3. Price products affordably and competitively for K12.

4. Deliver all STEM products electronically for both teachers and students to use in the classroom and in the field.

5. Obtain feedback from teachers and students and experts to continuously improve our STEM product.

imagesWe at RE@L believe this is the right model to make STEM successful in our K12 classrooms, to introduce learners to the real world of work and exploration, to identify new career options for kids, to work in teams, just as they will in their new job opportunities. Project-Based Learning is real world learning.

RE@L also brings a total package to assure that teachers who choose to use RE@L’s STEM products will feel confident they can deliver what’s needed to make their students successful in their learning in school and in their futures.

 Coming soon….from RE@L!

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Tom King & Dale LaFrenz

Dr. Tom King has served for over 40 years as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Saint Thomas in the School of Education. The Saturn School of Tomorrow, formerly a St. Paul Public School, and his visionary response to educational reform, was a lighthouse on the frontier of school change. Tom was an experienced high school teacher of mathematics, a school administrator, and Director of Technology for the St. Paul MN Public Schools. He is also a member of the RE@L Team. Dr. Dale LaFrenz is Chairman of RE@L and one of the founders of MECC Software who brought “Oregon Trail” to millions of K12 kids everywhere. He has written extensively on the history and evolution of Ed Tech. His work in forging new paths for MECC’S “edutainment" software was instrumental in connecting school-markets, kids, teachers and consumer-markets/kids/parents, and now serves as the new launching pad for RE@L apps and software.