STEM for 4 year olds

On April 20, 2019 at 11 AM at Playa Vista Library, I spoke with a group of children and their parents. The goals of my presentation were two-fold including:

  • providing an engaging and edifying experience for the children; and
  • giving the parents an opportunity to recognize that a STEM curriculum can be covered at home through reading their children nonfiction books and setting up activities around these books.

After reading my book, the children had an opportunity to do activities with stamps and stickers representing different animals and their specialties. I had biological samples of feathers, bird eggs, shells, beetles, snake skin, different bones from mammals… The live animals included my pets: a Leopard Gecko and two Firebelly Toads.

For the parents I provided a small binder of articles about STEM Early Childhood Education and Next Generation of Science Standards. I felt really great about the program. I plan to continue to reach out to local librarians to conduct STEM Education Workshops.Playa Vista Library 1.

 

LA Times Festival of Books

LA Times Festival of Books 2018
April 21 & 22, 2018

Kindergarten Lessons Ain’t what they use to be. Part III of my blog series about the STEM 5-E Lesson Plan.

The first 3 phases of the 5-E Lesson Plan (Engage, Explore, and Explain) prepare the students for phase 4 – Elaborate. In this stage of the 5 E’s students will expand their conceptual understanding of the content of the lesson. They should develop a deeper understanding of the information. The methods used to provide the avenues for delving deeper should include allowing the students to practice skills and behaviors.

Practicing skills should involve collaborative learning and problem-solving. Collaborative learning is supported by the Theory of Social Constructivism. This theory which is attributed to Lev Vygotsky (1978), emphasizes the importance of the collaborative nature of learning and that all cognitive functions are believed to originate in and are explained as products of social interactions. Students should be encouraged to engage in open-ended discussions with peers and teachers about such things as meaning of terms and procedures, relationship among ideas, and the applications of knowledge to specific contexts (Snowman & McCown, 2013). Problem-based learning (PBL) provides the opportunities for interacting with the content material that emphasize critical thinking skills and not just listening to a lecture. Research has shown that PBL allows students to form a better conceptual understanding and transfer their learning to other situations (Yadav, Lundeberg, Bunting & Subedi, 2011).

Evaluate is the last phase of the 5-E Lesson Plan. This phase encourages students to assess their understanding and abilities. Students are asked to recognize the key concepts of the lesson and show what skills they developed as part of the lesson. The evaluation should include feedback on the student’s strength and needs.

Each 5-E lesson that a teacher delivers is an opportunity to have the students transform to a higher level. The changes to the students include improved overall achievement toward mastery of the content and increased skills development.

Kindergarten Lessons Ain’t What They Use to Be. Part II of My Blog Series about the STEM 5-E Lesson Plan.

Howard Gardener’s definition of intelligence uses 3 primary and overarching categories:

  1. ability to create an effective product or service that is valued in a culture
  2. set of skills that make it possible for a person to solve problems in life
  3. the potential for finding or creating solutions to problems, which involves gathering new knowledge

The next two phases of the 5 E Lesson Plan are Explore and Explain. During these two phases, students will be asked to use and expand their intelligence to identify and develop concepts, processes and skills. During the 2nd E (Explore) Phase students are required to actively explore their environments and manipulate materials. They will then connect the dots from Exploring to learning the lesson plans concepts. The teacher will give the students different opportunities to verbalize the lesson’s concepts and demonstrate the new behaviors and skills. Teachers will often rely on different methods to help students retain the information such as word charts, think-pair-share or graphic organizers. The 3rd E (Explain) Phase should include intentional play which will allow children to develop self-regulatory skills, supports communication and fosters collaborative learning.

The 5-E Lesson Plan uses a constructivist approach. Constructivism is a learning strategy that was developed by Jean Piaget and become popular during the 1960s. The constructivist method or approach allows students to synthesize new understanding from prior knowledge and helps students build on the past to develop new information.