Get the School Year Off to a STEM Start!

What a sense of excitement and expectancy I felt as I watched new groups of students pour into my classes each August! I wondered who they were at this point in time, who they would become by the end of the school year.

What role would I play in transforming them into responsible young adults? Needless to say, I was especially enthusiastic about teaching them STEM skills – how to work in groups, how think about and approach problems, and how to work towards innovative and creative solutions.

I hope you’re experiencing some of the same emotions. I know you are just as determined to make a positive difference in the lives of these kids as I was.

I’m assuming you’ll be teaching or working with STEM in some way. So, before you read any further, watch this simple, 4-minute video: STEM Integration in K-12 Education.



This Fast-Draw whiteboard video (the animated kind) from the National Academy of Sciences gives a clear, concise overview of what we mean by integrated STEM and what it might look like in your classroom. After you watch it, check out the resources below that I’ve prepared to help teachers with facilitating STEM learning.

Six Quick Tips for Sudden STEM Teachers. As school begins this year, quite a few educators face a new and potentially daunting assignment: Teach STEM. Here you’ll find six essential tips that can help “sudden” STEM educators survive a challenging start and achieve success.

A Welcome Letter to New STEM Students. To kick off the school year, introduce your students to STEM, and invite them to consider how to get the most out of the engineering design challenges they will be asked to solve by using innovative thinking, analysis, and teamwork. Check out this version of the letter as well and use the one that suits you best.

STEM Classes and Kids with Special Needs. The unique design of STEM lessons allows students, regardless of ability, to access real-life learning experiences. Giving students with special needs authentic STEM experiences can help them get ready for a future where all types of people live, work and solve together.

Before You Lead that STEM Lesson. The new school year is on the horizon and STEM teachers are going to be caught up in the whirlwind of preparation before Day One. As you prepare to engage students in exciting STEM lessons, check out these 5 lesson principles to keep in the forefront.

You Might Just Be a STEM Teacher if . . . What’s the difference between a STEM teacher and other teachers? Here’s a look at 10 characteristics that help set STEM educators apart, in a lively style worthy of fellow southerner Jeff Foxworthy. STEM teachers really are a special breed!

Launch the New Year with STEM Mini-Lessons. Kick off your STEM classes with an entertaining, hands-on problem that allows kids to be active while reengaging with STEM ideas. Check out the “Stop, Drop, Don’t Pop!” STEM launcher, brief activities that introduce the engineering design process, and the secrets of good teamwork — ideas that can help kick off a successful year.

Student Teaming Tips. STEM classes feature collaboration and teamwork – 21st century skills that all students need, no matter what their career paths. Preparing kids to work together successfully in teams plays a critical role in today’s STEM classes. Download this free guide to help kids to work creatively and productively in STEM teams.

Building a Foundation with Elementary STEM. STEM learning can open up new worlds for elementary kids as it grows problem solving and teamwork skills – all the while building a foundation for the middle grades. If you’re an elementary teacher, try these ideas and resources to begin integrated STEM.

Urgent Request: More STEM Girls Please! Girls are smart, creative, and talented – they have the right stuff for STEM careers. So where are they? Now’s the time to empower middle grades girls with an understanding of their own STEM skills, strengths, and potential. This post offers ideas to pave the way for their success in engineering, life sciences and more.

Teaching Boys: the STEM Solution. Too often, traditional teaching and learning runs counter to boys’ brains. STEM takes advantage of boys’ high-energy, movement-driven learning orientation. Here’s some advice to help you take advantage of those traits.

Apps to Help Teachers Hit the Ground Running. As the new school year approaches, explore a selection of digital tools recommended by teacher educator Curtis Chandler. These can help you streamline lesson planning, create secure class websites, connect with families, and gather information on how your new students like to learn.

25 of MiddleWeb’s Best New Teacher Resources. This is addressed to new teachers, but teachers of all subjects should check out these powerful ideas! This is one of the best collections of tips, strategies, and advice I’ve seen anywhere – and all of it is written to you by teachers!

The STEM by Design book website. You’re on the site now! Be sure to come back and explore. You can download lots of teaching tools, book excerpts, and other free resources. In fact, the only thing that’s not free is my book, if you want to order it. (And you can get a 20% discount with code MWEB1.)

Get those projects going!

Anne Jolly

Anne Jolly began her career as a lab scientist, caught the science teaching bug, and was recognized as an Alabama Teacher of the Year during her years as a middle grades science teacher. From 2007-2014 Anne was part of an NSF-funded team that developed middle grades STEM curriculum modules and teacher PD materials for the Mobile Area Education Foundation’s Engaging Youth through Engineering (EYE) initiative. Anne has also teamed with science and math teachers to help them develop and implement their own STEM curriculum. Her book STEM By Design: Strategies & Activities for Grades 4-8 was published by Routledge/MiddleWeb in July 2016.

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