Part 2… 14 Secondary Ideas To Build With…. A STEM, PBL, Common Core Series… A Goldmine of Resources


Welcome to a series that is must read for any PBL or STEM educator.  It will include information to reflect and build upon as you consider both PBL and STEM.  Best of all, it will finish with over 50 amazing resources you will want to investigate.  First, to ensure you do not miss one of these valuable posts or other resources covering PBL, Digital Curriculum, Web 2.0, STEM, 21st century learning, and technology integration please sign up for 21centuryedtech by email or RSS.  As always,  I invite you to follow me on twitter (@mjgormans). Please give this post a retweet and pass it on. Have a great week – Michael Gorman (21centuryedtech)

Quick Note  I have been getting a lot of requests asking if I will make a visit to your school, organization, or conference. Please be aware that I am available to assist you in providing professional development and presentations. I have had the opportunity to network in person across the country and invite your inquiry at my booking information page and at

The STEM and PBL Series

  • Part 1…. Connecting It All…. A STEM, PBL, Common Core Series… A Goldmine of Resources
  • Part 2… 14 Secondary Ideas To Build With…. A STEM, PBL, Common Core Series… A Goldmine of Resources
  • Part 3…  17  Challenges and Competitions ….A  STEM, PBL, Common Core Series… A Goldmine of Resources
  • Part 4…  23 Formative Digital Resources ….A STEM, PBL, Common Core Series… A Goldmine of Resources
  • Part 5… 14 Amazing Project Sites…. A STEM, PBL, Common Core Series… A Goldmine of Resources

Part 2… Secondary Ideas To Build With…. A STEM, PBL, Common Core Series… A Goldmine of Resources

In the last post we identified the connections between STEM, PBL and the Common Core. In this post we will examine some ideas why it is important to facilitate the STEM and PBL experience in the Middle School. I will then proceed to identify some ways to begin implementing the idea in the high school and middle school. As you know, middle school is a place of high energy, activity, inquiry, and social interaction. I spent over thirty years in the middle school and enjoyed every moment. It is these very characteristics that make PBL a must for middle school students, while promoting the STEM fields. Let me identify my reasoning.

1. Set Up – The middle school set up is perfect for PBL and STEM. Many times the building plan and student schedule is based on student grouping and teams. This makes co and team teaching easier. It also allows for flexibility in the school day. In many cases the actual building and layout  can be helpful in the facilitation of PBL and STEM.

2. Career Planning – The Common Core is all about college and career readiness. While pathways may be discussed in the middle school, sometimes the reality of the class selection pathway is not taken serious until high school. Middle school students should have the opportunity to explore and emerge themselves in various STEM course and have the opportunity to examine these careers. They must see that a career in science may depend on proper math selection. The career and college pathway must be considered in the middle school.

3. The Middle School Student – These students are excited by inquiry, possibilities, exploration, and of course some risk. At the same time, they are seeking connectivity and authenticity in the real world, while making a journey from concrete to abstract thinking. They are discovering a social world while at the same time seeking independence. They need movement and formative experiences. STEM content, with PBL as the vehicle builds on the middle school students’ needs.

4. Middle School Educators – Some may say that this awesome group of educators also has the same high energy. Often this is true… though at the end of the day I felt the students still had more. Many times middle school educators are multi-content trained. They are also skilled at running the balance between elementary and high school needs.

Middle school students who come through a program of PBL and STEM will be ready for the increased rigor and specialization found at the high school. This experience at the high school while sometimes harder to sustain, should not diminish. I have listed some ideas and reflections to help high schools in the process of building STEM and PBL programs. I feel these same ideas can be useful to middle school.

1. Classroom Practice – Examine and reflect on instruction. Gain more experience with STEM, PBL, and the Common Core. You will see connections.

2. Look at Process – Take a moment and reflect how well the school and individuals are doing at teaching both the “What and Why” and also the “How and Apply”. Can students do more then pass a content test? Are they able to succeed on exams that ask them to apply content?

3. Timeline – What is your timeline? Take slow yet methodical steps! As you progress be sure to reflect and revise through assessment. Be sure to celebrate success.

4. Commonality – Look for common concepts. This can include common time for collaboration, common standards taught/reinforced between two courses, and of course investigate the Common Core.

5. Replicate – Look for something cool to replicate. It might be a unit found on line, or it could be a concept brought back from another school or conference. Understand that it may have to be remixed to accommodate needs of the individual school community.

6. Extra- Curricular – Examine the extra-curricular program. Are there STEM based programs that students are excited to come to? Does it cover standards already in the school? Are there new possibilities?

7. Start Small – Begin with one PBL project or one STEM idea in one class. One teacher can promote STEM by connecting to several standards in another curricular area. Look for solutions to team interdisciplinary outcomes in planning time, even if it cannot happen in the classroom.

8. PLN – Build and network with Professional Leaning Networks/Communities both in and outside the school. Share, collaborate, and plan across the hallway and/or across the miles.

9. Culture – A culture of PBL and the interconnecting of disciplines (STEM) does not happen at the start line. Students and teachers must establish mutual respect, understanding, vocabulary, and expectations. The building of a culture based on authentic learning is a process and not always an end goal.

10. Community – Include the community in the process and the learning. The community can bring about authenticity while providing rich, valuable, and unique resources.

* Next three posts… Over 50 STEM and PBL based online resources. Sign Up and please give a Retweet!

Thank you for joining me and if you have an idea that you feel is important please leave a comment or pass it on to me in an email. I hope you found this information something you can use in your school and to share with other educators.  As always , I invite you to follow me on twitter (@mjgormans). Please give this post a retweet and pass it on to someone who will benefit.   To ensure you do not miss a future valuable post or other resource covering PBL, Digital Curriculum, STEM, 21st century learning, and technology integration please sign up for21centuryedtech by email or RSS. Have a great week… enjoy the Discussion! – Mike (


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