Effective STEM Classrooms- Technology

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In visiting STEM classrooms, some are more effective than others.  In the classrooms that effectively embrace STEM, I always seem to see the same kinds of characteristics (which is a great thing!).  So far, we’ve talked about Teamwork, Inquiry, Problem Solving, Leadership, Support, and Hands-On Challenges.

This week, I want to talk about technology.  We live in such a technology-rich environment and that causes some folks to be on what I’ll call the Shoehorn Train.  These folks shoehorn technology (or whatever the element du jour is) into everything, just well, because.  To me, technology in the classroom is just like candy.  There IS such a thing as too much of a good thing (and if you don’t think so, give your 5-year old some pixie sticks and get back to me).

The beauty of technology is that it is (or should be) transparent.  What that means is that you shouldn’t have to “work” to incorporate it into your STEM lessons.  When I observe classrooms and see the students seamlessly using technology tools, it makes me happy because I know that these kids are learning real, transferable skills, which is a cardinal skill of STEM.  I know that means that these students are going to know so much more about said technology than they were told to create a graph in Excel and print it out for a grade because creating and printing a chart is not authentic, using technology tools in the course of solving a real problem is.

So how can you do this in your classroom?  Simple! Let technology integration be transparent and incorporate it when it make sense.  And if it doesn’t happen naturally, don’t shoehorn it and don’t worry.  The right opportunity will present itself.

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