By Christopher Blais, Specialist, Teaching & Learning with Technology
Looking for new ways to engage students has always been a priority for me. I’ve had my fair share of students who were reluctant readers and writers, but through the power of technology, I’ve found methods to teach in the classroom that have inspired them, kept them engaged and helped them find success.
Why is STEM so important? Why does STEM matter? We hear these questions a lot as teachers and as parent, these questions might have crossed your mind, too. We’re seeing more and more complex learners—those who need additional support in the classroom—many of which I’ve experienced teaching first-hand for more than a decade. With STEM, we’re shaping students to become more critical thinkers through science, technology, engineering and math to unlock the next generation of innovators.
It’s our responsibility as educators to adapt our teaching methods and practices, and to integrate new tools, experiences and opportunities within the classroom, to benefit all students. We want every subject including STEM to be interesting, engaging and adaptable to different styles of learning.
Making STEM fun
When teaching STEM, I tend to avoid using the standard approach of pencil and paper. There is now a spectrum of digital tools and video games (yes, video games!) like Minecraft: Education Edition that promote creativity, collaboration and problem-solving in an immersive digital environment. Game-based learning platforms like Minecraft engage students across subjects and help bring abstract concepts to life.
As a teacher, you don’t need all the answers, but you do need to be curious and willing. We must be willing to ask our students how they want to learn and with what tools—you may be surprised at the power technology has to help even the trickiest students become more open to learning. Complex learners will let you know if things aren’t working for them, and often, if we start to tweak our practices to engage these kids and encourage them to have a voice, it all starts to click.
Different tools will come and go, but it is so important to recognize student proficiencies, cater to their interests and empower them with leadership opportunities to set them up for success along the way. Learn and be willing to try new things—a philosophy that applies to students, parents, and educators.