STEM is once again hosting schools from other states and leadership groups from other countries seeking to learn from our student-centered Problem-Based Learning model. Today, a team from different South American countries are touring to learn our best practices for their STEM schools. STEM School Highlands Ranch is sharing with the world as a free and open-source school of learning. STEM’s Strategic Plan identifies our unique model as a goal for all students so of course we welcome visitors wishing to learn from our amazing faculty.
PBL is STEM’s North Star. Teachers are surveyed regularly on their professional development needs. PBL has long been identified as one of the highest needs. STEM’s Strategic Plan has five pillars with one being Teacher/Staff Care. Having a trusted person helping in the classroom to build confidence and competence has increased the quality and frequency of PBLs K-12. Teachers are discussing PBLs with enthusiasm. The support provided to our faculty to take risks and try PBLs has infused new energy into our students.
Once again, students are spilling out into the hallways working in small groups excitedly making progress in answering the guiding PBL question. The joy is back!
How to explain our PBL model in simple terms?
We start with a question worthy of world-class experts. Next, the unit of study is layered with the latest technology both teacher suggested and student-generated. Colorado and national standards are embedded to build specific skills and knowledge along the way. The culminating event usually includes presenting to experts to build public speaking skills. Beginning at age 5, students become confident and well-spoken authorities as they move through the grades. Our students have poise far beyond their years with an emphasis on presentations.
Click here for a presentation that was put together by our Teacher Support Team.
What is the difference between Problem-Based Learning and Project-Based Learning?
Everything! Problems start with a question. That question must be world-class – one you would ask experts. Projects are often busy work without significant problem solving critical to STEM’s model.
Why are PBLs so engaging K-12?
Students own the learning. They are empowered to accelerate. PBLs are social. Lots of discussion and refining of concepts through negotiations with classmates. New technologies, often introduced by classmates, move through the class almost instantaneously. No need to wait for a central office to adopt a new technology, train the teacher and then spoon feed the students in isolated tech classrooms. At STEM, it is our culture to embrace innovation.
Few can understand how magical learning is at STEM unless you see it. I invite you to tour with me and let me show you firsthand the positive and energized culture we all collectively contribute toward with a positive growth mindset believing in the infinite capacity of students. If interested in a private tour, please email firstname.lastname@example.org so that it can be arranged.
Here’s hoping Punxsutawney Phil won’t see his shadow this coming week,
P.J. Eucker PhD