Why English Teachers Are The New STEM Teachers

Rebecca Gray Education, STEM Projects, Teachers Leave a Comment

Training ELA professionals how to incorporate STEM into Literacy

STEM is already an integrative approach to science, technology, engineering, and math.  Is throwing STEM and English/Language Arts into the same boiling pot asking for trouble? We’re here to tell you no!  One of the greatest assets a school district can have is an ELA teacher who is thoughtful about ELA STEM activities in the classroom.

Integrating science and language arts lesson plans sounds really complicated.  But it often happens almost naturally.  Take for example the following verbiage in the Common Core State Standard Initiative’s College and Career Readiness Standard for Reading:

“Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.”

This sounds a lot like creating a hypothesis and coming to a conclusion based on your own research or experimentation.

STEM ELA Lessons Can Be a School District’s Secret Weapon.

Purposefully holding professional development sessions to equip ELA teachers with the tools needed to conduct STEM writing assignments, literature, and STEM activities, and how to incorporate STEM into literacy is the key to teaching STEM more broadly in a school community.

Offering carefully planned training to Non-STEM teachers allows your district to bring STEM into multiple arenas, even if indirectly.  ELA classrooms are the perfect place for working on soft STEM skills like:

  • Presenting thoughts and arguments to an audience
  • Defending a hypothesis, theory, or opinion
  • Research skills
  • Collaborating with peers
  • Expressing thoughts and ideas clearly in written form
  • Thinking critically about a piece of text (which translates into students who are later able to dissect things other than frogs – like excerpts from research trials and science journals)

Tips For Integrating Science and Language Arts Lesson Plans

ELA teachers don’t need to throw their plans or standards out the window to boost STEM learning in their own classrooms.  Making a few small tweaks can help support STEM programming, and prepare 21-st century graduates by immersing them in a more complete STEM experience.  Some tips for ELA STEM activities and teaching strategies:

  •  Literature and STEM activities can go hand in hand.

Choosing literature, both fiction and non-fiction, based on STEM subjects can open doors for discussion, curiosity, and inspiration.  Assigned reading can still meet grade-level standards, and allow ELA teachers to dissect and inspect literary elements and the author’s purpose while educating students about different facets of STEM learning.  There are books about math, engineering, science, discovery, scientific breakthroughs, and historic moments in STEM. Check out the following list of 20 Great STEM Books for all grade levels.

  •  Digital Writing Assignments

Create relevant writing assignments that must be completed on a digital platform.  Practice sharing those documents with peers, editing shared documents digitally and laying them out in ways that make them readable.  Creating clear digital content has become an entire industry, and students who find an early talent can use their expert writing skills to navigate a growing career path in digital marketing, content creation, or business writing.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash
  •  Require Research with Citations

Creating research assignments with citations and source criteria help students to be critical thinkers.  Too much information written by amateurs is being taken as gospel on social media platforms.  Being able to discern the difference between reputable information sources is not just a job skill, but also a life skill.  This has never been more evident than during the tumultuous battles of internet experts during the pandemic and the subsequent push for vaccinations.

  •  Give Students the Opportunity to Prepare and Present Written Debates

Researching, writing, and defending a position is a communication staple, and also a huge part of the scientific process.  Having students present written drafts of debates, and then refine those arguments is both a literacy skill and a soft skill for scientific debate.

Can ELA Teachers Take Over Afterschool STEM Programming or STEM Clubs Without a STEM Degree?

The simple and obvious answer to this question is: Absolutely.  STEM Programs can be led by virtually any member of your district’s staff with the proper training and tools.

With the grace and consideration of our investment partners, we’ve been able to team up with hundreds of STEM programs nationwide.  We bring ready-to-implement lessons, live online instruction, and teacher support – even for ELA teachers wanting to do more with their students in STEM.  Even non-STEM teachers are properly prepared with Thimble.

Your investment can help us generate the kind of outreach necessary to bring this programming to ELA teachers who love STEM too!  We can help them in their efforts by integrating science and language arts lesson plans.

Visit our Republic Campaign site today to learn more about our progress as an organization, and the ways Thimble has been helping thousands of students every day.

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