STEM Schools

As stated by the Smithsonian Science and Education Center, “STEM-related jobs grew at three times the rate of non-STEM jobs between 2000 and 2010.”

Most schools that have transitioned to Next Generation High Schools are focusing on STEM. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. As mentioned above, the innovative world we now live in calls for more and more STEM professionals daily. STEM teaching is very hands-on and calls for Project-Based Learning (as mentioned in our blog post on Innovation in the Classroom). Therefore, a large amount of students enjoy learning STEM and having a active role in their own education, not just the students who want to pursue STEM careers.

To read more interesting information on STEM Education provided by the Smithsonian Science and Education Center, click here.

GettingSmart.com lists 12 ways to start teaching STEM in your school below:

12 Ways to Start Teaching STEM in Your School

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Customized Curriculum

As you might already know, there are different ways for students to learn more effectively.

  • spatial (visual): using images and space to gain understanding
  • auditory (aural): using sounds or music
  • linguistic (verbal): using spoken or reading words
  • kinesthetic (physical): using the body and sense of touch
  • mathematical (logical): using reasoning and systems
  • interpersonal (social): learning in groups or with others
  • intrapersonal (solitary): learning by working and studying alone

It is important to understand that sometimes our classrooms are only focusing on certain learning styles. For example, textbooks work perfectly for the students who are linguistic or even spatial learners, but not so much for the kinesthetic and and auditory learners. This means we might spend hours trying to teach students and get absolutely nowhere.

Targeting the correct learning styles for individual students can make your life (and their lives) much easier. Therefore, the U.S Department of Education lists “personalizing academic content and strengthen the connection to the educational needs and interests of individual students” as the second principle of Next Generation High Schools.

So what are some ways you can personalize your curriculum to effectively cater to your students’ learning needs? The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology has a blog with insights from schools that have prioritized a customized curriculum. Read this useful blog here.

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Innovation in the Classroom

The U.S. Department of Education listed “redesigning academic content and instructional practices to promote active and hands-on learning, aligned with post-secondary and career-readiness” as a principle for Next Generation High Schools. This means that schools are in charge of the curriculum and setting the expectations for students’ knowledge and skills. A great way to bridge high schools to colleges and careers is by providing innovation in the classroom.

What is innovation in the classroom?
Innovation in the classroom, or innovative teaching, is the process of leading to creative learning. Unlike a traditional classroom, in which the teacher lectures and the students just soak up the information, innovation in the classroom calls for more involvement from the student. In this setting, the student’s role is the same or even more important that the teacher’s role. It encourages students to be fully engaged in learning and reaching their full potential. Innovation in the classroom can be students playing educational games on iPads (technology) or researching real issues (project-based learning).

How do you use project-based learning? 
Project-based learning (PBL) is an instructional method that encourages students to learn and apply knowledge and skills through solving “real world” challenges. PBL prepares students for challenges of the 21st century and helps students feel confident to take on any future situations. An example of PBL can be starting a student farm. This project will provide a hands-on way to learn science, social studies, math, and economics while teaching students fun, useful skills. The Buck Institute for Education provides training for teachers and other school leaders by helping them redesign their curriculum to include PBL. For more information, visit www.bie.org.

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Transforming into Next Generation High Schools

As mentioned in our first November blog, features of Next Generation High Schools include:

  • Redesigning academic content
  • Personalizing academic content
  • Ensuring strong content knowledge
  • Providing and personalizing academic and wrap-around support services
  • Providing high-quality career and college exploration and counseling
  • Offering multiple opportunities to engage in post-secondary learning in high school
  • Redesigning learning in more innovative and meaningful ways

The Alliance for Excellent Education has developed toolkits in the form of slideshow presentations for school leaders. These toolkits present methods, in accordance to Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), that schools can use to transform high schools into Next Generation High Schools. The toolkits focus on five topics: Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs, career and technical education, dual-enrollment and early college high schools, deeper learning, and personalized learning. Find downloadable toolkits here.

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Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

As educators, you have most likely heard the idea that you are “preparing students for jobs that do not yet exist.” Think about it: a few years ago the job titles “mobile app developer” and “cloud software engineer” were unimaginable.

For years, many organizations and individuals urged for high school education to be redesigned so that students could be better prepared for success in a new, global innovation economy. The idea was that previous education laws were outdated and were no longer suitable for a more diverse and creative world. In 2015, U.S. President Barack Obama signed ESSA which then went into effect during the 2017-2018 school year.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is a bi-partisan K-12 federal education law that focuses on providing an equal opportunity for all students. It replaces the “No Child Left Behind Act” and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  One of the main changes provided by ESSA is that it gives the states and school districts the power of assessing school performance.

For more information on ESSA, view the video by EdWeek below:

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Next Generation High Schools

“…I’m announcing a new challenge to redesign America’s high schools so they better equip graduates for the demands of a high-tech economy… We’ll reward schools that develop new partnerships with colleges and employers and create classes that focus on science, technology, engineering and math.”
— President Barack Obama, 2013 State of the Union Address

During the month of November, we will be discussing Next Generation High Schools. This is a hot topic of discussion in the United States’ education system, especially since President Obama’s State of the Union Address in 2013. Next Generation High Schools are high school institutions that have altered their curriculum in order to better prepare students for success in the twenty-first century by focusing on individual students. Additionally, they emphasize the importance of a partnership between high schools, post-secondary institutions and businesses or organizations which are potential work places for students.

The U.S Department of Education established the following principles of Next Generation High Schools:

  • Redesigning academic content to promote active and hands-on learning aligned with post-secondary and career-readiness
  • Personalizing academic content and strengthen the connection to the educational needs and interests of individual students
  • Ensuring strong content knowledge and skills for teachers in all subjects including STEM
  • Providing and personalizing academic and wrap-around support services for those students who need them
  • Providing high-quality career and college exploration and counseling on options for students after high school graduation
  • Offering multiple opportunities to engage in post-secondary learning, which includes earning college credit while still in high school
  • Redesigning the scope and sequence of learning time in more innovative and meaningful ways, incorporating innovations such as educational technologies, project-based learning, and competency-based progressions

During the next few weeks we will be providing high school educators with various information on Next Generation High Schools. Make sure you keep up with our blog and follow us on social media!

Join us at World Future Forum for more research findings and best practices on Next Generation High Schools!