This page tells about me and my Amazing STEM Lesson!
Bio: Luewilla Smith-Barnett is a STEM Specialist and instructional coach at Langston Hughes School where she works with middle school students in the innovative STEM Lab. This year will be her 23rd year with CPS. Luewilla is also a professional dancer and owns her own dance company.
Narrative of Amazing Teaching Moment: My amazing teaching moment was when I conducted a professional development lesson with K-8 teachers on light reflection. Teachers had to use the Design Cycle to design and create a periscope using mirrors, tape and paper towel rolls to try to see an object behind a wall. The objective was to gain an understanding of the Design Cycle just as engineers do when they design and create things and to understand how light reflection allows us to see images. Utilizing the 5e model (engage, explore, explain, extend, evaluate), I began the lesson with two engaging activities where teachers had to consider the best window covering for seeing inside a room. They also had to look at various items under different lighting conditions and think about what they need to see - light! Then teachers had to explore various ways people see things that are hidden, such as submarines using periscopes. Teachers then used the Design Cycle to imagine and plan ways to create a periscope to view a hidden item in the classroom. Utilizing specific constraints of time, materials and group roles, teachers created periscopes that helped them understand the role of light and reflection to help them see hidden objects. The lesson also focused on higher order thinking questions to help teachers and student develop thoughtful problem solving solutions and ideas. Questions, such as how can this knowledge apply to real life situations? What are some assessment considerations? How can students share their results with others? What are some improvements? Afterwards, teachers reflected on the lesson using prompts for discussion of how the lesson could benefit student learning. It is important for teachers to understand the design cycle process as they teach students how to become effective 21st century learners. The Design Cycle includes: imagining solutions to a problem, choosing the best solution, creating a plan, designing a prototype, testing the prototype, making improvements if needed, and sharing results. In order for students to be effective in the 21st Century, they need to be able to practice and understand the process of creating and problem solving that real engineers experience. Utilizing the Design Cycle allows them to do this.
1. Hands On Engagement: Students have easy access to the lesson immediately by playing with manipulatives to discover patterns, relationships, and to wonder in order to develop conceptual understandings.
2. Inter-Disciplinary Activity: The activity inspires other teachers to bring their content knowledge/focus into the activity; promotes rich cross-curricular connections. 3. Real World Connections- Students have opportunities to connect their learning to how the human race has used these same tools to evolve into the society we are today.
4. Prior Knowledge - Teachers assess their students’ prior knowledge while simultaneously introducing new content and drawing on their students’ previous experiences as a point of engagement.
5. Collaboration- Students work interdependently to solve problems bigger than themselves and benefit from each individual’s perspective rooted in their diverse cultural, experiential, and socio-economic backgrounds.