In creating a curriculum for STEAM, I pondered what the essential elements are to create a scope and sequence that will speak to STEM skills and add the arts, and at the same time, benefit student achievement. Since there is no official scope and sequence to make a STEM curriculum infused with the arts, I brainstormed with myself in true STEAM fashion to decide what I think kids need to know and be able to do.
The obvious connection between STEM skills and the arts is making things. Actually it connects with technology and engineering for which you need math and science skills. I believe that the brain is a bucket where you must collect all of these skills and mix them up and then redistribute them from your bucket. Nothing should be in isolation. At the same time, making things without a commitment to a deeper understanding of what you are doing: form, function, design, theory and practicality, is not using STEM skills.
My thought was to begin with communication since is an essential part of a 21st century education and involves creativity, collaboration and critical thinking. Communication can reach out (no pun) to many other academic disciplines. You can communicate by speaking, writing, drawing, moving and creating.
In the 21st Century, Communication skills are essential. We communicate in so many ways as it permeates our lives through technology and media. Kids love social media and technology. They don’t however, have the best communication skills. They don’t talk that much with one another face to face, preferring to send texts and status updates. Writing skills seem diminished even though the outlets now for writing are endless. Having read a lot of student writing and realizing that writing consistently performs the lowest on standardized high stakes tests, I think it is time to get to work.
I am one of those people who believes if you can read and write, you can learn anything. Communicating what you know or learn is all-important. You can have the most incredible ideas, but if you can’t communicate them, no one will ever know. Writing skills are essential and must be including in all academic disciplines. Students must learn to express themselves through words and reflect on their experiences. Including reflection and self-assessment in a demonstration of knowledge must be a part of any curriculum. STEM or STEAM does not mean you don’t have to be able to express yourself.
The arts are a form of creative expression, which is communication. All the arts communicate. One has to have something to say to say it and then discover the vehicle for communication. So STEAM using communication skills in a variety of media is logical.