People have made resolutions to change old habits, try new things, or fundamentally alter some aspect of their life. This year, I am making a list of things that I want to improve about myself. These STEM resolutions will hopefully make me a better teacher and increase my ability to help other educators reach their STEM goals.
Refine my process of creating engaging Project-Based Learning modules.
I have been using project-based learning (PBL) since I started running my STEM program. That has made me lazy about filling out forms and properly planning any projects that I give my students. I want to make sure that the projects assigned to my class are of the greatest depth and value to the student and increases their ability to gain 21st century skills while mastering content. I am revamping old forms by creating a visually intriguing format. That way I can share with other teachers that can in turn develop incredible PBLs.
Collect more data.
Students use real data sets so irregularly that when they are presented with “real world” data sets, they quickly become overwhelmed when sorting through the data. When I have students complete experiments and investigations where they collect a large amount of data, I want them to have the ability to work fluidly with it, traversing any problems they encounter to pinpoint the most prudent trends observed. I hope to collect data sets in all areas of science, especially astronomy, where data sets for K-12 are far and few between.
Learn a new language.
Because of the growth of technology not only in the classroom, but the world as a whole, it seems code is the language best suited for my future endeavors. I have fallen in love with teaching using microcomputers. First, I give them the computers, ask them to design a system to accomplish a task. Then, they give me a list of inexpensive electronics supplies. Once they are delivered, I have an operating system that usually does more than I expected. These kids are nearly fluent in these languages and I have been happy with giving them the materials and letting them run.
But I have become increasingly interested in how it works and how far the technology can be pushed. I plan to learn C++ and associated languages first and go from there. My hope is that I can start experimenting with building specific devices that connect to exact content standards and share this with fellow educators. This will open many doors! It allows students to push the boundary of knowledge and how they apply it to real-world applications.
Whatever it is that you do to renew yourself, think of ways to push yourself and try new things. Take a risk, learn something new, and believe that you can better yourself in all you venture to do. While failure can be common, success is so much sweeter when you set that bar high and surpass it.