Shining STAARS: Charting Cross-Curricular
As STEM education becomes increasingly integral to student learning in K-12 classrooms throughout the nation, teachers must be well prepared to face a variety of academic challenges including: cross-curricular connections to content, standards based curricula, STAAR and EOC exams, understanding complexities of environmental economics, literacy/writing to learn, team building, incorporating engineering design and technology, understanding and applying ethical concepts, diversity, implementing 21st century learning skills, data collection and research, learning outcomes, and assessments.
Current research indicates that implementing project based learning into classroom instruction benefits students in the following ways: instructs more effectively than traditional methods; encourages student motivation; improves retention; introduces and improves mastery of 21st century skills; assists lower-achieving students; and increases achievement on standardized tests. In becoming students themselves, teachers learn how to implement project based learning concepts from inception to presentation, identify real-world applications, and reflect, assess, and evaluate the role of incorporating projects for rigorous, in-depth classroom experiences.
Though not always emphasized or recognized, ethics is an integral part of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The development and deployment of technology, for example, often raises many ethical issues. Some of these issues are fairly straightforward while others are subtler and very complex. It is, therefore, important that educators help prepare their students for the ethical challenges they will face, whether as STEM professionals or citizens in modern society.
Today’s teachers are continually required to incorporate rigorous curricula across content areas while addressing state, college and career, and individualized school standards despite time and financial constraints. This content attempts to guide teachers toward effective planning procedures using a project-based design that can be integrated across content areas and that encourages a team approach to teaching as well as the inclusion of 21st century learning skills, college and career readiness principles, and projects that are replicable and which scaffold learning from year to year.
Project based learning in classrooms is not a new concept although it is continually being refined for more exact interpretations and integration in today’s ever-changing classrooms. A wealth of research and resources exists to assist teachers with the design of rubrics, assessments, evaluative and reflective interpretations, and literacy incorporation.