Saturday, January 7, 2012


There has been a huge push to prepare students to become proficient in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. These four subjects are known as STEM education and has become an important initiative to advance the United States of America’s educational system. In today’s global economy, technological development and advancement is top priority to improve our economic future.
In a press release dated January 6, 2010 announced President Obama’s campaign: “Educate to Innovate”, the president stressed the importance of STEM Education. It is a campaign to motivate and inspire students to excel in the STEM subjects. These subjects include Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education. A push for excellence in these areas is an important one due to the substantial vacancies in these fields. According to the white house website, “A substantial teacher shortage in STEM field exists today, and without concerted action, will only worsen. Overall, up to one million teachers will need to be recruited over the next five years, and vacancies in math and science are often among the hardest to fill. This is why, as part of his commitment to raise America from the middle to the top of the pack internationally in STEM achievement over the next decade, President Obama challenged governors, philanthropists, scientists, engineers, educators, and the private sector to join with him in a national campaign to find innovative new ways to recruit, train, reward, and retain teachers. “(2010 Whitehouse press release)
The 2011 study, “Globally challenged: Are U.S. Students ready to compete?” revealed the U.S. students’ are falling lower worldwide in these content areas.
There is a shortage of teachers who are qualified or effective in math and science in our classrooms, and they are not meeting adequate standards of instruction to excel students in these content areas. Many STEM field teachers did not major in the subjects that they teach. More students are not pursuing advanced degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics but choosing advanced degrees in other areas. Therefore, proper training in STEM education methods needs to take place to prepare our teachers to effectively teach American students in these subject areas. If our students are provided with teachers who are prepared and properly trained in STEM education then they can develop future leaders who can contribute to our nations growth and development..
According to the 2009 NAEP there is a huge proficiency gaps between black, Latino and white students. On the 2009 NAEP Math assessment, 33 percent of white 12th graders were proficient, while only 11 percent of Latino 12th graders and a mere 6 percent of black 12th graders were proficient. We see similar gaps on the 2009 NAEP Science assessment, where only 27 percent of white 12th graders were proficient, but only 8 percent of Latino 12th graders and 4 percent of black 12th graders were proficient. (
To address the issue and answer the challenge, the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education Coalition was formed in 2006 to “raise awareness in Congress, the Administration, and other organizations about the critical role that STEM education plays in enabling the U.S. to remain the economic and technological leader of the global marketplace.” In 2011 this STEM Coalition created core policies and principals that are being initiated. “ The Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education coalition represents the broadest and most unified voice in advocating for policies to improve STEM education at all levels. An alliance of more than 500 business, professional, and education organizations; the Coalition works aggressively to raise awareness in Congress, the Administration, and other organizations about the critical role that STEM education plays in enabling the U.S. to remain the economic and technological leader of the global marketplace of the 21st Century.” (
American students STEM skills are inadequate and we must recruite, train, and support effective STEM teachers. This must be a top priority for the United States in order to promote students with the skill, interest, and motivation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math because our economic standing as a country depends on it.
Press release (
Harvard Study ( GloballyChallenged.pdf)
Statement of STEM Education Coalition Core Policy Principles 2011 (

Understanding By Design (UbD)

Understanding By Design (UbD) is a framework developed by two educators, Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe, to assist educators with designing effective curriculum based on their “backward design.” It is used in over 400 school districts and used by over 500,000 educators. It is supported by a book, workbook, and websites. (Grant Wiggins 2004)
UbD is based on three stages of “backward design.” The first stage , Identify Desired Results, suggests the development of clear goals’ and focuses on your desired results. The second stage, Determine Acceptable Evidence, focuses on the evidence needed to assess the information you want your students to gain. The third stage, Plan Learning Experiences and Instruction Accordingly, prepares educators to instruct their students for optimal understanding and develops learning activities.
This framework avoids starting at the beginning of the textbook and trying to cover the entire material straight to the end of the book. Instead, the focus is finding the most valuable content you want your students to learn, incorporate real life experiences, and then develop your activities last.
This Understanding by Design model suggests that in order to develop your curriculum, you should first ask yourself the following three questions: 1) What should students hear, read, view, explore or otherwise encounter? 2) What knowledge and skills should your students master? 3) What are “big ideas” and “important understandings” students should retain?
Wiggins and McTighe also suggest seeking feedback from students and complete regular reviews of the curriculum to increase its effectiveness. The goal is to have students really understand the content instead of just memorizing material and forgetting about it later. They provide a suggestions to help students not to forget the material they may need to apply real world applications.
According to Wiggins and McTighe, “By actively evaluating our work against established criteria, we make it far more likely that learners engage, learn, and achieve at high levels that they understand by design, not by good luck.”
For additional information, worksheets and examples for download check out the following websites: or