One truism about education is that it is subject to trends. This can be seen in a positive or negative light, but the reality is that the efforts are directed at finding best methods at increasing student achievement and engagement. Different teaching strategies and practices, models for learning, and technologies emerge, and that which works usually sticks around.
In schools and classrooms, there are two major trends that support education in the fields of Math and Science and in the Arts and Humanities. The first is the proliferation of STEM programs. The second is the steady use of the Writing Workshop instructional model. Although these are vastly different, they are both successful trends to emerge.
STEM programs, which focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math are popping up at every level, are the subject of magnet programs, enrichment opportunities, summer learning camps, science fairs, everything…. This trend is a clear reaction to the changing technologically-advanced society we live in. It is aimed at preparing students to enter a high-tech workforce, medical careers, engineering and opportunities of which we cannot yet conceive.
Within the STEM focus, there is a focus on raising the number of females and minorities who enter the high-tech fields. There is a vast amount of funding available in this area; scholarships are available and financial support for enrichment programs are out there. There are job shadowing opportunities, career fairs, and Science & Engineering Fairs. Robotics is also becoming a serious field of study, with many competitive opportunities. Truly, where STEM learning is concerned, the sky is the limit.
On a totally different level, but also an important one, is the trend in Language Arts classrooms towards the Writing Workshop model for teaching writing. This trend has emerged based on the success of getting students to realize that writing is a process – it has steps, it is not impossible, and if the steps are followed, clear and strong writing will be produced. The focus is serious and students are prepared continuously to meet standards on assessments through this model. The model provides for ample feedback, is process-oriented, and gives students a clear path to improving their writing abilities.
These trends are examples of integrated learning, with the subjects of science, technology, engineering and math being taught in integrated ways within many STEM programs. They are also examples of process-oriented, standards-based educational expectations in regards to what students need to do in their Language Arts classes. Both trends have been around now for a while, and are looking like they are here to stay.
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