Science, Technology, & Engineering (STE) Integration

Science, Technology, & Engineering (STE) Integration

RISE focuses on preschool teachers and children pursuing explanations for how the world works (science – S) and solutions to problems (technology and engineering – T & E). By creating learning experiences that build from STE that is part of children’s lives – such as the plant and animal life, tools, structures and systems of transportation in their everyday environments – teachers connect new learning experiences to what children already know and extend children’s understandings.
RISE STE learning experiences are:
  • CONNECTED – New STE learning is built on the foundation of what children bring to their classrooms. Learning occurs because classroom activities are connected to children’s experiences in their homes and communities.
  • DEEPENED – New STE learning is built on understandings that have been supported in different areas of the classroom and in the community. Learning occurs because investigations occur at circle time, in the block area, at the science center, on the playground, on walks in the neighborhood, and anywhere else the class explores together.
  • EXTENDED – New STE learning is built on what has happened before in the classroom. Learning occurs because investigations happen over days and weeks, giving children plenty of time to investigate and think about focal science and engineering ideas.

Home-school Collaboration

Home-school collaboration (HSC) in the RISE project goes well beyond home extension activities. We seek to bring children’s out-of-school contexts into classrooms by supporting non-hierarchical partnerships and reciprocal dialogue between parents and teachers. By facilitating respectful two-way relationships, our teachers come to understand and support families’ unique contributions to their children’s learning. In this view of family engagement, the home-to-school flow of information is just as important as the school-to home flow of information.
To support learning with and from each other, the RISE approach involves three types of activities:
  • CULTIVATING a small group of PARENT LEADERS and COMMUNITY EXPERTS who serve as guides for understanding family and community life, as well as how best to connect with other parents;
  • JOINT PARENT-TEACHER ACTIVITIES focuses on STE concepts, classroom curriculum and children’s everyday lives;
  • PARENT-TEACHER DISCUSSION (PTD) GROUPS, which have a two-fold purpose: (1) for teachers to be able to access information about home/family routines and expertise; to feel connected to their students’ home lives and families’ funds of knowledge to support their teaching. (2) For families to realize they have something critical to contribute to the curriculum; to feel valued for their expertise and connected to their children’s learning despite any language, logistical, and cultural barriers that might prevent traditional “engagement” activities.
“ Head Start has an open‐door policy…They always involve parents in the classroom, and ask them to help, and try to give ideas how to help parents with their children at home. But in this project…they’re making it like a circle. They don’t just have the teachers give ideas to the parents and bring [them] home… They also want us to get ideas from parents… I think that piece is very important. ” (RISE pioneer teacher)

RISE Professional Development

Our PD approach introduces specific ways to support children’s learning through the design of inquiry-based, connected sets of learning experiences that incorporate children’s out-of-school lives in meaningful ways.
The three RISE PD components are:
  • WORKSHOPS – A series of 1-2 day meetings, distributed across two school years, enable teachers to work with the RISE team to expand understanding of the STE domains, learn about children’s foundational knowledge, and develop strategies for implementing inquiry-based, conceptually-connected, culturally- and community-relevant sets of learning activities.
  • INDIVIDUAL COACHING – During bi-weekly visits, a RISE coach models inquiry-based STE practice and partners with teachers in a reflective cycle that involves teacher self-reflection on instructional practice, goal setting for improvement, and implementation of teaching activities that serve as an object of reflection for coach and teacher together.
  • PROFESSIONAL LEARNING COMMUNITIES – These peer networks, in which teachers meet monthly to engage in reflection, help teachers hone their STE practices, deepen their understanding of student learning, and contribute to sustainability of teachers’ gains over time.

Look At RISE In Action