Standard 2

STANDARD 2

STEM EDUCATOR COLLABORATION: STEM educators collaborate and develop, implement, and improve high-quality learning activities.

INITIATIVES/ACTIONS: 
- Providing professional development opportunities
- Developing partnerships with community
- Sharing STEM knowledge through professional development
- Planning for STEM enrichment opportunities



Our educators meet on a regular schedule to collaborate, innovate, plan, and adjust integrated STEM learning experiences. These collaborative opportunities include weekly cluster meetings led by our instructional coaches, faculty meetings, and grade level common planning all of which are supported by the STEM leadership team. Grade level teachers consistently plan together so that lessons are integrated across the curriculum and are uniform to create equitable learning opportunities for all students. Teachers have created a lesson bank for high-quality STEM lessons that meet grade-level standards. When a teacher tries a new STEM activity in their room that is successful, they can save it to the bank for others to use. One teacher recently developed an engineering challenge for the construction of a Hooverville Shanty that could withstand wind, water, and the weight of snow. Now that this lesson has been added to the bank, we expect to see others duplicate this learning experience next year.

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Lessons

Teachers work with outside agencies to develop and create new learning experiences for students. For example, Fripp Island Audubon generated lessons and learning opportunities for all of our 4th grade students. Students have the opportunity to experience one program involving live owls and another where raptors are brought to the school. They also build birdhouses, dissect owl pellets, make bird ornaments, and attend a field trip to learn even more about the birds in our area. In addition, our school coordinates with 4-H Clemson Extension and other outside agencies to develop student-centered projects. One of these projects is creating a STEM garden that involves many learning experiences centered on STEM concepts. Other community agencies that have helped incorporate STEM in the building include the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina Traveling ArtsReach Program and Beaufort Conservation Education Outreach. These agencies offer free or low cost programs that teachers can request to have in their classrooms. Recently, PreK students had the chance to learn about Polar Habitats and many classrooms have used art projects to learn more about math and science. Providing our students with opportunities like this helps to enhance learning.

Community

Additionally, staff members collaborate to create STEM-based afterschool enrichment opportunities. Robotics, The "A" in STEAM is Art, and Storybook Engineering are some examples of the clubs that students can attend during our afterschool program. All programs are free of cost and students sign up to participate. During Storybook Engineering students helped fairy tale characters solve various problems. For example, the fox ate the gingerbread boy's leg so they had to design a way for him to get around. The creativity that stemmed from this prompt was impressive. The students made crutches, wheelchairs, pogo sticks, and so much more. The Robotics club allowed students the opportunity to practice coding with several different types of robots. The STEM art club was newly offered this year, but the projects that the students have been working on certainly gives them a creative way to learn more science content.

Afterschool



Our STEM leadership team organizes an annual family STEM night where teachers and families work together to provide opportunities to extend this type of learning at home. During the presentation, faculty members talk about the various STEM learning that takes place in each of their classrooms (Lego Lab, Engineering, and Computer Science/Coding, as well as, Makerspace). Over the years, families work together to complete STEM challenges such as building a chair for Mr. Potato Head out of paper, making the longest paper chain from a single sheet of paper, and building the tallest snowman. No matter what the challenge, there is always a lot of fun along with learning.

Members of our faculty have presented on multiple STEM-related topics, such as the benefits of providing equitable STEM learning for all students at the South Carolina Association of Title I Administration conference (SCATA). We have also shared our ideas at Beaufort County’s Summer Institute for teachers. One of these presentations was called the "M" in STEM is math. The participants in this session all expressed that they had learned a lot of information that they could take back and implement in their own classrooms. In addition, our school media specialist has presented at a state conference on incorporating Makerspaces into the media center. Within our own school, faculty members have presented training on the use of technology, Foss Kits, and STEM bins.

SCATA

A strength of Beaufort Elementary's program is a collaboration amongst the faculty to ensure that our students engage in high-quality learning that supports our curricula. Members of the faculty have attended conferences and workshops related to this topic in order to improve their understanding of STEM and their ability to implement STEM activities in their classrooms.

Maritime

An opportunity to improve high-quality STEM activities would be to include more collaboration with community resources to develop an awareness of additional real-world problems relevant to our local area.