My STEM Units

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

STEM Summer Reading: Part 2

Ask any teacher what they are reading this summer, and they are bound to give you a list.  Don't get me wrong.  Teachers read during the school year too.  They read Island of the Blue Dolphins for the tenth time or The Very Hungry Caterpillar for the hundredth time.  They still pause for predictions for what will happen to the caterpillar.  They still cry when Rontu dies (P.S. I have a great STEM unit on novels such as Island of the Blue Dolphins). 

But summer....summer is for reading "how to" books.  "How to" implement Math Rotation Stations (Math Work Stations by Debbie Diller), "how to" use picture books to teach Science (Picture Perfect Science Lessons by Karen Ansberry and Emily Morgan), and "how to" design your pathway to the Common Core (Pathways to the Common Core by Lucy Calkins et al.).

Recently, I spoke with some STEM experts about what they are reading for summer.  Below is a list of what we are reading:

The Sketchnote Handbook: the Illustrated Guide to Visual Note Taking by Mike Rohde

I love using very long sheets of light-colored construction paper to sketch out and organize ideas for STEM units.  You know the colored paper rolls teachers have been using for decades to make bulletin boards?  In fact, I really like using large sheets of paper to organize my thoughts for just about anything when I just can’t seem to get started or focus my ideas.  There are rolls of paper squirreled away around my office.  My colleagues take bets about how long it will take before I’ll leave the room to go get a giant piece of paper.

Of course I personally believe that this strategy enhances my focus, concentration and learning.  When I’m standing and moving around- I feel as if I’m sharper and more creative.  Recently, it’s been brought to my attention that sketching itself is also a strategy to enhance learning.

As I was perusing the first chapter of The Sketchnote Handbook: the Illustrated Guide to Visual Note Taking, I realized that if I worked at developing my sketching using the intentional approach and concepts outlined in the book my sketching and organizing could be much more useful to myself and others.  An important point that Mike Rohde makes is that you don’t have to be able to draw to be able to sketch.  Sketching does not necessarily require artistic talent (thankfully).  It’s a strategy to engage the mind and help you focus.

If you’re interested in the book you can pick up the free introductory chapter of his book here and see what you think.

I know these concepts aren’t new, but they are important to remember when designing and creating new and engaging activities for students.  Maybe you’ve heard of or used these concepts or ideas in your classroom:
  • Interactive student notebooks  (If you haven’t here’s a short youtube video (complete with 90′s dance soundtrack.)
  • Field Notebooks for sketches and scientific observations on field trips.  Bruce Goode Co-Founder of STEM-Ready 

STEM education is seen by leaders from across the globe as key to economic success and prosperity. As the body of STEM-learning research grows, this volume provides the unique perspective of nationally recognized STEM educators who have spent, collectively, more than 400,000 hours at the interface between teaching and learning. Each chapter communicates how its author has implemented a specific STEM practice in the classroom and how the practice might be modified for use in other classrooms, schools, and learning environments. Readers will gain powerful insight about what really works when it comes to teaching and learning STEM. (Check back for exciting opportunities for STEM Fellows) Terrie Rust Educational Consultant/Senior Consultant for Global Learning Programs

What are you reading this summer?  Join the conversation at  
Read the whole series:

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