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Monthly Archives: November 2018

  • Why is STEM Education So Important?

    Since the Cold War, United States education has focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. So why is STEM education still so important? Well frankly, we haven’t quite achieved success yet. If we had, millions of tech jobs would not be going unfilled every year, and there would be gender equality in engineering and science universities. The fact of the matter is, education has not quite done what it aimed to yet. What can be done? As educators we can put STEM into our lessons daily, even in a humanities-based classroom. This will help our students be ready for their STEM-filled futures.

    What will STEM proficiency actually help our students with?

    A myriad of job opportunities to start with. Many jobs in sciences or technology are very high paying, and require little higher education to enter. Students who are exposed earlier to problem-based learning are given the chance to develop logical and analytical skills. They also become technologically literate early, giving them a better chance of filing these positions. As it stands today, many jobs are unfilled due to a lack of qualified applicants. If schools can help develop these interests and skills in their students it will benefit not only the students themselves but also the entire economy.

    The benefits of STEM education for society

    As our students become citizens, they will bring with them the skills and knowledge they’ve learned. If we are able to empower our students to think critically, analyze, and explore new horizons, society will benefit. A more STEM-proficient generation can help carry our country forward. New medical discoveries, better infrastructure, more environmentally friendly technology, and many more possibilities await us. Looking at countries like Singapore and Japan with strong STEM education, we can see the advancements they are making, and hopefully it inspires us to help our students create something wonderful too.

    Developing STEM skills for life

    Not every student will go into a STEM career though. This is good, because as much as the world needs engineers and doctors, we also need musicians, writers, actors, and artists! The skills STEM enables kids to have are skills for life. For example, a stay at home parent needs mathematics knowledge to budget and bookkeep for the family, engineering to know how to fix things when they break, science to ask informed questions and figure out a procedure to get answers. We do our students a great service if we can help them to develop these skills in diverse ways.

    It is so important for education to be well rounded. Many educators get stuck in their bubble, and don’t think about interdisciplinary options much. It can help their students so much if they can though. Even in an English language arts class, students can still make hypotheses about the plots of the novels, or calculate the cadence in iambic pentameter. Giving students STEM skills will help them regardless of their future career choice. And if they do choose to enter STEM, you will have given them the skills to help themselves, and the entire country grow and develop.

  • 4 Tips to Help ELL Students Succeed

    While English is the dominant language across America, for more than 4 million students that is not the case. The English Language Learning students, or ELL for short, are a diverse group that often struggle in classrooms. States are finding it difficult to help their ELL students meet academic targets in both math and English, and teachers often feel underqualified to help. These are a few ways you can help ELL students in your school learn and achieve.

    Explicitly teach vocabulary and English grammar

    Students who speak English fluently often struggle at the beginning of a unit, when confronted with new and strange vocabulary. They, and your students who speak different languages at home, will all benefit from some direct instructions. If you’d like students to know how to use semi colons correctly, explicitly teach them how. This can help all your students become better readers and writers. At Daydream Education, our variety of English posters cover topics such as punctuation, paragraphs, and verb tenses to help improve students’ understanding of English.

    Increase opportunities to practice language use

    English Language Learners consistently improve in their English comprehension and fluency levels much faster if they practice more frequently. As a teacher or school employee, you can provide your students opportunities to practice. Give them speaking assignments, interviews, speeches, dialogues, and partner work to let them practice their verbal skills. Providing writing opportunities like an essay contest, or literary magazine publishing student work gives students a chance to share a bit about themselves, while also using their grammar skills. The more they practice the better they will be, so if you can offer incentives, or specifically recommend chances like this to students you know speak Spanish, Vietnamese, French or other languages at home it would help them out tremendously.

    Consistent comprehension checks

    While English speaking students usually have the verbal skills to be able to question things that may confuse them, especially if you provide a forum to do so in class, ELL students may hesitate. It is good practice to know who your ELL students are, and to check in with them individually after whole group instruction. They may be shy to inform you that they are confused, especially in front of their peers. So while circulating in the room, check with them slightly more frequently than you would with your students who have more advanced language skills.

    Increase parental involvement

    The connection between student success and parental involvement is no secret, but often teachers feel intimidated to reach out to parents when there is a language barrier. Many school districts employ translators for such a reason, so you can send written information home in the family’s mother tongue or call home with some aid. The more you are able to connect the family to their students' learning, the better. This can help the student stay on track, and receive encouragement both at home and school. If your school district has no translators, you can often rely on the student themselves, to translate conferences, or another family member. It never hurts to try to learn at least a greeting and goodbye though, and could help create connections!

    All told there are hundreds of ways to help your ELL students learn, but the biggest thing is to think. Teachers often forget to plan their lessons in a way that considers their English Language Learners, and that ends up being the biggest problem. Having an ELL student in your classroom can be a challenge, but it can also be a joy. Students who come from diverse backgrounds bring a level of depth to learning that is difficult to create otherwise. Make sure you enjoy your time with them, and consider their needs in your lessons.

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