When people think about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) they tend to think of subjects that are academic or require adult-directed formal instruction. However, STEM can and should be integrated in intentional ways throughout a young child’s typical routines and daily activities.
OSERS Deputy Assistant Secretary Kim Richey and I spent the week of September 10 traveling as part of the U.S. Department of Education’s 2018 Back-to-School Tour. During the week, ED leaders toured the country to get a closer, first-hand look at how schools are meeting the unique needs of students.
Kim and I spent the week in New England visiting traditional public, private/independent, and public charter schools to meet students and educators and to learn how these schools provide supports and services to students with disabilities.
We were encouraged by how these schools are rethinking education to ensure nothing limits their students from being prepared for what comes next in life―whether it is continuing their education, transitioning to a work environment, both, or whatever is their next right step.
We heard from diverse education stakeholders at each school. They provided us with great information, and it was incredibly helpful to benefit from their unique perspectives and experiences. We were reminded again, that those closest to the child really do know best about their education, and that the best ideas and innovations to ensure the success of children come from them, and not from Washington.
This is a cross-post of a Blog from the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE). Please submit your comments there.
On April 21st, the U.S. Department of Education came together with the White House and numerous public and private partners to announce our shared commitment to improving Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education in early learning (Preschool–3rd Grade). Early engagement in STEM is critical for our youngest learners because opportunity gaps in STEM can begin prior to preschool—and they can continue grow as students progress through school. There are a host of ways that the public and private sectors can partner to better address this STEM opportunity gap in early learning, such as integrating STEM with the arts and literacy, and using education technologies including screen media (e.g., television, computers, videogames, tablets). We believe that the use of technology can be an important tool for closing these gaps when used intentionally and appropriately in conjunction with other forms of pedagogy.
The U.S. Department of Education would like to initiate a discussion with the early learning and STEM communities on how best to engage and support parents, caregivers, educators, researchers and developers on how to eliminate opportunity gaps in early childhood STEM education, especially by leveraging education technologies. This conversation will inform federal policy decisions in the coming months.
Call to Action:
We ask early childhood educators and researchers, in particular, to help address these fundamental questions:
Recommendations for screen media use in early childhood vary. It is difficult for educators, parents and caregivers to make informed decisions about which content is effective and how and when to use it. For example, how can educators, parents and caregivers best determine what content is age-appropriate?
How can we make it easier for educators, parents and caregivers to select applications that are high quality and proven effective? What research gaps do we need to address to inform these types of decisions?
How do we effectively support professional development (PD) for educators to facilitate the effective use of education technologies to close STEM opportunity gaps in early learning settings? How can education technologies help provide effective PD?
How can we help media developers address the needs of diverse students and those with special needs to increase student engagement, and to promote social emotional learning?
How can we bridge the opportunity gaps between STEM education, literacy, and the arts? What, if any, is the role of technology and screen media in these efforts?
Please submit your comments and questions in the open forum of OESE’s original Blog (no comments accepted on this OSERS cross-post) by 5:00 p.m. ET on Friday, May 13, 2016. We seek open and robust discussion of these issues so that we can improve education outcomes for all young children and provide effective guidance for parents, caregivers, and educators.
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