Child’s Play: A STEM Language Arts PBL Unit

Last week I had the amazing pleasure to step into the classroom of one of our sixth grade language arts teachers. Stephanie Maxwell has developed a project connecting project based learning with a bit of STEM, toddler development, and language arts.

Before I share all the nuts and bolts of this project I have to tell you how excited I am to see this project unfold because we have teachers like Maxwell working very hard to merge the various subjects and topics to make high quality learning experiences.

At Bettendorf Middle School teachers undergo a series of steps in order to properly launch and execute their projects.

Teachers have to develop an idea that meets their standards. Some start with standards and others fit the standards to their ideas. Once an idea is constructed they will fill out a project planning form to sort their ideas and make sure they have all the components of a high quality project figured out.

From there they will then do a project tuning(see a video recording of one here) where they work with other teachers to fine tune and help with any questions or ideas that they might need help with in order to roll out the project. The tuning is a protocol and system that works.

At this point, teachers clean things up and then launch the project. For this project, Child’s Play, I was asked to come in and teach a STEM lesson for them to experience what the toddler’s will go through. I had them create Puff Mobiles. After one period of building and testing, students had to write and discuss how they could take this project and modify it to meet the needs of 2-5 year olds.

The students will be doing a ton of work to get ready for this project. This project has built in audience, the kids, that will be using their work to learn. The students will be building, designing, and researching what interactive learning station focused on STEM that they will create for the local Family Museum.

I think this is a great project with so much learning taking place as students work through the public, museum experts, and more to design a proper and safe learning station. Students are engaged in the content because they want to do a nice job. Their audience is more than just their peers and parents. Anytime you can blend science, history, and writing together you have a winner.

I look forward to watching this project unfold more as they are still in the early stages of work, but in the meantime feel free to check out all the hard work and things developed to make this project work.

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