Reviewed by Teri Cosentino
6th-7th grade science teacher
This is the one book which will change the way you think about implementing STEM into your classroom. It takes a logical, one step at a time approach instead of "throwing the baby out with the bathwater". It allows the teacher of grades 3 through 8 to see what a STEM classroom looks like through powerful examples, but does not preach. Instead, this collection of "letters" becomes the framework for STEM instruction, and much more importantly, how you feel about exploring STEM instruction in your classroom.
I found the book to be full of ideas, good examples, and just a fun book to read. It is one of the few instructional books that I could not put down. It lends itself perfectly to group discussion, a professional development workshop, or just a friendly conversation about STEM in the classroom. It equally divided STEM ideas between a self–contained classroom and a middle school disciplinary one. At the beginning of each chapter, there is a thought provoking direction, asking the reader to make a list, answer a question, or reflect upon a statement. In and of itself, these questions are things that teachers should be asking themselves all the time. For example, one of my favorites is “Are students able to see the connections among the various concepts and skills they are learning?” For this particular question the chapter lesson is all about the guiding principles of STEM—focusing on integration, establishing relevance, emphasizing 21st century skills, challenging your students, and mixing it up.
Each chapter begins with a problem and ends with a solution. This is not only a how–to guide to STEM implementation, it is also an instructional guide to best practices. Several other noteworthy thoughts; the book encourages, clarifies what the science, math, engineering and technology parts of the whole STEM classroom look like, and provides many examples of how shifting the paradigm just slightly so that you can incorporate STEM into your classroom. There are lessons on project–based learning, assessment, STEM in middle school, and developing a lesson plan for implementation, one STEM area at a time. So ask yourself the tough questions, think about instruction as an interdisciplinary approach, take one small step, and use this book as the structure to hang your not so new, but changed STEM lesson on.
Review posted on 3/14/2013