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5 Ways You Can Help Students Learn Math & Science
Nowadays, STEM education drives public schools’ curriculum decisions. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) 2015 national report card, the majority (up to 72%) of America’s public school 8th graders performed at the basic levels in reading, math, and science.
To address the poor academic performance in these areas, schools augment professional development to increase capacity and improve instruction and learning in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Teachers engage in STEM cohorts where they learn from engineers, mathematicians, researchers, and scientists. Such cohorts are designed to increase teachers’ application of STEM strategies in the classroom for expanded understanding of the taught skills and concepts.
STEM strategies are designed to help teachers and students identify the reasons behind the processes and applications. Here are five ways engineers, scientists, mathematicians, and technology experts can collaborate with schools to help students learn more math and science:
- Build a relationship with your local school district and neighborhood school. Introduce yourself to your local school board, superintendent, administrators, secretaries, teachers, and other school employees. All school employees serve as liaisons to school leadership, so foster cordial relationships with as many as you can.
- Offer to serve your local school district and/or school by volunteering on science, technology, math, and science curriculum committees. Your experience, knowledge, and training may benefit schools with curriculum decisions, textbook adoptions, and professional development ideas.
- Volunteer to tutor students in a before or after school STEM program. Tutoring is an authentic, valuable intervention model, especially tutoring programs that track instructional methods and student progress. Talk to your local school administrator about serving as a STEM tutor.
- Determine your level of commitment.
- Are you available for the entire school year? A semester? A quarter? What days and times will you tutor?
- What do you want your students to learn?
- How will you know they are learning?
- What will you do if they are not learning?
- What will you do if they are learning quickly?
- Offer to present to teachers at professional learning opportunities. Through your school liaison, discover ways in which you can use your expertise to serve the teachers in your local school. Talk to your school administrator to discover the professional development planning process. If there is room for you to serve there, commit to developing and implementing a session to train teachers on STEM techniques and concepts.
Middle school Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) teacher Rachel Kissner, MA, believes students learn best from role models directly related to STEM and STEAM. “Students need to see how engineers help people and society. Often in grades K-12, science and engineering are taught as something outside of society, like Spock in Star Trek. When students see how scientists and engineers affect their world and make it a better place, they are more likely to engage in the content and start seeing themselves as part of the science and engineering community.”
Students need to improve reading, math, and science knowledge. You can help students make real-world connections to the learning processes so they are able to improve their decision-making in real-life and on high-stakes standardized tests. Your involvement in the learning process can make a positive impact on student learning and could help students feel more confident about their abilities in STEM.
By Lynn Daniel, Ed.S.
U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 2015.