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Ultimate STEM

Due Date: July 20th, 2015


What goes into creating an amazing STEM related teaching/learning experience?

As educators we have all had these moments where everything comes together, the stars align and magic happens. It is harder in hindsight to capture what exactly happened—and to figure out how to make it happen again.

In this project we will work individually and in small groups to try and answer this question. Of course we understand that there is no single correct answer. But maybe collectively we can figure out the broad contours of designing such powerful learning experiences.

We know that each one of us brings to this beautiful profession a unique blend of experience, knowledge and passion: for teaching, for the STEM disciplines, for the learners in your care. So as a first step we will ask you to describe your most amazing teaching moment to your small group. Once every group member has shared their moment we will work together to identify 5 key (big) ideas or themes that connect across these stories of teaching.

All of these will then be put into a book that we will print and share with you and with others. Yes, by the end of this, you will have had a part in authoring your very own book!  Together, we will be capturing what any lesson should include if it is to create the Ultimate STEM experience for students.


Now for the details:


This project will be completed in 3 parts.

Part I: Teaching Demo

For purposes of efficiency you will need to assign some roles.

  • Note Taker – This person (or people) will be responsible for taking notes during the debriefing sessions. The note taker should use this template for the notes.
  • Photographer – This person will capture photos as each fellow is recreating their lesson experience. Try to capture pictures that are active and engaging (of the presenter and the “students”). Also capture pictures of artifacts that were shared or any other interesting visual tidbit.
  • Timekeeper – This person will make sure that the allotted time is not exceeded.


  1. Amazing Teaching Moments:  Each group member will have 10 minutes to recreate a snippet of one of their most powerful teaching experiences from their classroom.  Start by providing your group with some context.  What grade level were you teaching?  Did the lesson take place with the whole group or a small group?  What was the purpose of your lesson; what concept were you trying to teach?  Make sure to be prepared with any materials and resources you will need for your demo.  Remember it is better to show than tell – so can you give your team members a glimpse of what it was like being in your class that day? Do you need props? Artifacts? to make that moment real… then bring them with you. If this is indeed your best work – it demands that you put your best foot forward, that you take a moment to bring that moment to life.


  1. Debrief:  Following each 10 minute teaching experience, the group will debrief for an additional 10 minutes using the following prompts.
  • Captivating Moments: What moments captivated you? Why?
  • Sparks of Curiosity: What were you curious about? What would you like to learn more about?
  • Application to other contexts: Could some elements of this activity be used in another context for some other content? Could YOU see yourself adapting it in some way?
  • Expanding and transforming: How could it be extended/made more powerful? What could be changed?


The Note taker will record the group’s thoughts using this template.  The photographer will collate the photographs and submit them to the instructors.


Part II: Identifying Common Themes and Threads

Now that each of you has seen each other’s amazing teaching moments and debriefed along the lines described above, it is time for Part II. You will start to identify commonalities, themes, and ideas that cut across these different examples.

  1. In this part, you will work as a group to identify commonalities, themes, and ideas that cut across these different examples. At this point, don’t be judgmental – just brainstorm a list of words, phrases, and ideas, that are common to the 5 stories you just heard.
  1. Through group discussion, filter your key component list down to a Top 5. This may mean collapsing some of the ideas that emerged earlier, deleting others and so on. By the end of the day, you should have your BIG 5 ideas that are common to all the stories of amazing teaching that were shared.

Finally, you will write down a brief explanation of (25 words max) for each of these 5 components.

  1. Once your group has created its Top 5 list, including the brief explanations, copy this into this Google Doc.


Part III: Final Submission (to be done individually, Due July 20th)

An important part of the activity is writing down your most amazing plan and submitting to us – to become a part of the book. (Please note, you can modify your plan based on the discussion with your group).

For the book we will need the following from EACH team member in your group:

  • Picture
  • Bio (Maximum 50 words)
  • Explanation of Amazing Teaching Moment, including necessary context for reader. This section should explain your demo and be written assuming the reader does not know the context in which it is delivered. Again attempt to capture the moment in words to share with others. You can edit your plan based on the feedback from the other members of your group (250 – 300 words)

And from the group as a whole, we will need the top 5 ideas for what makes an amazing lesson plan along with the brief explanations.


End note: Preparing a book requires a significant level of effort and care. There will be multiple rounds of feedback and rewriting even after these three stages. If this is to be a quality production each of us needs to put in extra effort to make sure every detail is right, every i has been crossed and every t has been dotted (or is it the other way around?).