Technology Unites STEM and Language Arts
4 lesson plans show the essential links between STEM and other subjects
Language arts educators don’t necessarily view themselves as teaching STEM skills alongside grammar and vocabulary. Yet when teaching reading and writing, adding technology only increases student learning and engagement.
When Ameel Attallah, a Verizon Innovative Learning Schools coach at Secrist Middle School in Tucson, Arizona, wants to enrich student learning and increase engagement, he knows what to reach for: technology. Access to technology allows students “to be exposed to a plethora of resources and supplements beyond the textbook,” Attallah says.
Verizon Innovative Learning provides that access. Students receive one-on-one devices with data plans, which connect them to the internet both at school and at home. For schools that also have an innovation lab as part of the initiative, students gain experience with next-gen tech, including 3D printers, virtual reality headsets and augmented reality apps.
With devices and data plans in students’ hands, technology can then act as a link between fields of study. “[The Verizon Innovative Learning] Lab includes all the core subjects: English, math, science, history,” explains Theresa Spencer, English interventionist with Irving Independent School District in Texas. “It's all in there together, helping the kids synergize their learning, put it together and build on the things they're learning in each class.”
Within the context of learning English, technology aids students on their way to mastery. Julia Hochman Glees, a Verizon Innovative Learning Schools coach and English teacher, says that the technology provided by Verizon has made an impact on students at Berendo Middle School in Los Angeles, California. “[Working with media equipment] has been especially helpful with English language learners being able to use their voices. It empowers them to practice speaking skills, [and] working with that technology helps them stay motivated and use their talents in creative ways.”
Incorporating technology into a language arts curriculum is not only beneficial for students, but it allows teachers to take on the role of facilitator, allowing for more individualized student instruction. “The use of technology in language learning helps teachers individualize learning to achieve differentiation,” Attallah says.
Free lesson plans that weave together STEM standards and language arts, such as the examples below, can be found on Verizon Innovative Learning HQ.
To practice writing a biography in narrative form, students create an interactive alien using web-based software and then create a backstory for their character. The alien’s biography may be completely original, based off of a historical figure or modeled after the student’s own life. The possibilities are endless, but most importantly, students practice writing skills alongside STEM principles.
What middle school student doesn’t love superheroes and comic books? In this lesson (the first of five), students interact with VilBot, a sarcastic robot assistant who guides them through the process of imagining a superhero and creating a comic book. This lesson combines writing, art and technology and allows students to work independently, creatively and at their own pace.
Students learn the ins and outs of pitching and presenting an idea while becoming familiar with Adobe Spark. After watching a video on the elements of a successful logo, students design their own futuristic clothing brand using Adobe Spark, which allows them to practice writing, design work and persuasive skills.
Design thinking includes empathizing with the end user in order to create a successful product or service. In this lesson, students work with partners to complete an “empathy interview” and then record their partner’s answers and map out their responses. They practice interviewing, take time to learn about one another, reflect on the importance of empathy and practice verbal and written language skills — all through the angle of design thinking.
For more free language arts lessons that include STEM standards, visit Verizon Innovative Learning HQ.