Tuesday, May 6, 2014

STEM Summit- Connecting UbD, thinking strategies and thinking routines

The past few days I was lucky enough to attend an event entitled the Colorado STEM Summit, hosted by the PEBC and the DMNS.  Along with Jeff, Brenna and Shannon, I spent time in small sessions based on furthering our education in STEM related topics.  We began with an enlightening keynote speech by Dr. Scott Sampson, the resident paleontologist at the museum, where we learned the story of the universe in under five minutes (we are related to geese, can you believe it?), and ended with grappling to find a question with which to guide our own action research (mine is somewhere along the lines of "How can I use the Claim, Evidence, Reasoning framework to scaffold student's critical thinking across the contents?")

These sessions not only allowed us opportunities to collaborate with likeminded educators and those in the education field, but gave us an actual lunch time to talk and debrief about how we can bring some of what we were learning and thinking about back to Roberts.  As I texted Jeff to see if this topic was "post worthy", I realized we had been backwards planning for the past two days.

I had this glimpse into the future, or at least what I would like the future to be for my 3rd graders next year.  They were passionate about science and math.  Even better, they were engaged in learning experiences that were genuine and meaningful to them and these "lessons" were integrated.  Each day was a mesh or science and math and literacy, seamless (this is an ideal future).  Dr. Scott introduced the term Place-Based learning and I feel in love with the idea of outdoor classrooms and went right to learning about life cycles could take on entirely new essential questions.  Unit designs that were no longer given titles like "fractions" or "life cycles" or "non-fiction research", and instead given titles like "non-fiction research of the life cycle of fractions and other non math things".  Or something like that.  This thinking is still new, but the bottom line is that it is NEW!  My fears and nightmares about taking on this new challenge of teaching STEM subjects have subsided.  And this summer when they rear their ugly head, I will get a lovely letter that I wrote to myself today to remind me of all I am going to do to make next year amazing.  Beginning with the end in mind.


  1. Caitlin, An outdoor classroom is inspiring. It reminds me of the observation and curiosity in The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. Our students deserve to view the world through the lens of science. Planning with the end in mind, I know that our team will be right on board! We have been successful in integrating social studies across the platoon to literacy, I am intrigued by the same collaboration with science. Claim, Evidence, Reasoning is such an adaptable routine. We can use it across all content for sure!

  2. Cait, this sounds awesome! The idea of widening our idea of units in order to integrate all subjects is inspiring. It makes me think of thematic teaching, but really it's different. It's purposeful planning of the standards into intriguing real life situations. I like it...Thinking into the future I'd be interested to hear some of the processes you went through in order to think in that manner. Summer planning here we come!

  3. Of course it's post worthy! Backward planning!
    My husband was at this same conference and I love this idea! Can't wait to see your plan in action. The kids are going to LOVE Ms. Moore next year.
    Don't spend TOO much of your summer planning though.