STEM Teaching Tools

November 10, 2017

The STEM Learning Project resources use a few different kinds of techniques to develop STEM skills like collaboration and critical thinking. These common threads help to build the general capabilities and create deep student learning. Read more about these STEM teaching tools below. But first, big news: The STEM Learning Project is on Twitter! Find us @STEMLearningWA

STEM teaching tools
Our process uses a few common STEM teaching tools that help develop STEM capability.

Digital Publishing Tools

One of the most powerful STEM teaching tools we recommend here at the STEM learning project is  online journalling. Journalling is a reflective practise that can help learners build their Personal and Social Capability (particularly self-awareness). Also, using online platforms hits the Information and Communication Technology Capability. Here are some of our favourites.

Storybird is a creative publishing format that uses pictures to help students imagine, reflect and explain. It has tools to help teachers manage its use in the classroom, and is suitable for any sort of writing, not just creative writing. For example, students could use it to create a pitch for a prototype or explain a science concept. The beautiful art work provides a wonderful scaffold for a reflective journal. View the promo video for teachers below.

Padlet and Pebblepad are two portfolio management tools that are used by educational bodies worldwide. Both apps have educational packages, and Padlet also has a free personal package that students could use independently.

Private journalling app Penzu now has a version for schools, Penzu Classroom. Penzu Classroom is quite similar to Padlet and Pebblepad, but is more focussed on academic outcomes and less on reflection and collaboration between students. You could use it alongside the classic, free version to give students a bit more power over their own journals.

Seesaw has the benefit of integrating well into a broad range of platforms including Kindle. It, too, has a free version and a paid school version. What’s extra special about Seesaw is that you can use it for school wide management as well as in the classroom.

Cooperative Learning

Cooperative learning builds students’ Personal and social capability as well their critical and creative thinking skills. It gives them a structured way to practise vital social and self-regulation skills. This article provides some relevant links to research on the benefits of this type of learning.

But how to implement it in the classroom?. You may have heard of Kagan structures, started by this guy. There are plenty of websites out there on his techniques, including Kagan Australia. We also love this Weebly page which sets out the techniques in an engaging, step-by-step manner.

Laura Candler’s page includes links and a heap of great freebies, while this Daily Teaching Tools article focusses on Jigsaws. Lastly, here’s a page specifically targeted at cooperative learning in the early years.

Productive Questioning

Managing classroom talk is a powerful way to help students learn. Questions drive classroom talk, but a huge part of using questions wisely is to know when to refrain from asking too many. Questions should be intentional, and students usually need a bit of time to think before they answer. This article contains a wide range of useful strategies you can use to direct classroom talk. And here’s some research on the use of discourse for mathematics learning. Finally, for a lovely example of a classroom discussion with a nice progression of questions, click here (video courtesy Edith Cowan University).