STEM teaching toolkit supports deeper learning

New NCTAF toolkit intends to help educators integrate instruction with new science standards, STEM concepts

STEM-NCTAFA new STEM teaching toolkit from the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (NCTAF) aims to improve curriculum design through authentic, collaborative, project-based learning experiences.

Developed from its multi-year, multi-site STEM Learning Studios program, the new toolkit offers a three-pronged strategy that combines project-based learning, professional learning communities, and outside content experts.

The Learning Studios toolkit features free, online resources that are a mix of design and communication templates, reflective discussion protocols, and evaluation surveys to guide and monitor complex, interdisciplinary curriculum and assessment work.

Next page: Three ways teachers can use the STEM toolkit

“This toolkit is designed to support educators as they work collaboratively to implement high standards for all students,” said Melinda George, president of NCTAF.

“The content was developed out of our work with teachers, team leaders, and district administrators to implement the Learning Studios. The tools and case studies are drawn from the experiences of the cross-curricular Learning Studios teams of teachers and outside content experts working with students to address real-world problems.”

Teachers can use the toolkit to make Next Generation Science Standard connections by:

  • Engaging outside content experts to bring real world content, data, and experiences into teaching and learning
  • Developing successful cross-curricular teams that explore the integration of subjects, such as science, technology and engineering
  • Integrating subject areas so that science learning is strengthened for all students.

“The toolkit strategies are designed so that teachers can strengthen their own practice based on their current efforts, individual and collective priorities and resources. The tools were developed for improving project-based curriculum design, fostering productive teamwork in PLCs, and leveraging relationships with outside content experts,” said Elizabeth Foster, vice president of Strategic Initiatives for NCTAF.

From 2009-2014, NCTAF ran the STEM Learning Studios program in more than 30 schools across Maryland and Virginia.

The Learning Studios Toolkit can be found at The tools are available as Google Docs or as downloadable files.

Alex Cornacchini is an editorial intern with eSchool Media.

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