Using Literature to Promote Equity in STEAM
This video shares the need for equity in STEAM class, my personal journey, and ideas for creating equity in STEAM.
My story is about equity instruction through STEAM. I researched and worked with teachers to include equitable instruction with STEAM projects. The majority of the lessons were literature based. I found that using rich stories, allowing children to discuss the topic, and then creating a STEAM challenge based on the story gave the teachers and children a strong understanding of equity and it also created excitement from the students to share their understanding.
The books chosen were based on history, cultural heritage, and minorities and women in STEAM. The projects varied from students in fifth grade choosing to be an inventor/scientist in a WAX Museum based on the invention and not on the inventor to third graders creating a gear system carousel of hope based on the book, "A Ride to Remember".
Our school continues to research and choose books based on equity and inclusion instruction and our STEAM Team continues to create challenging and interesting projects that allow the students to communicate, collaborate, use critical thinking, and creativity.
Resource: I have taken a course called Dismantling Racism in the Math Class through https://achievethecore.org/. They are an amazing resource for equity in education.
Hello Fellow STEM Leaders,
I am a STEAM Resource Teacher at Cromwell Valley Elementary Magnet School in Baltimore County, MD. This involves teaching a STEAM special to third through fifth grade and STEAM integration in grades K-5. I love exploring problems with my students and helping them through the engineering design process to solve these problems. I am also passionate about teaching children financial education to help build a financially literate society.
I am so excited to share my thoughts and views on infusing equity into STEAM/STEM Education and I look forward to hearing about your journeys with equity in STEAM/STEM Education.
I loved your video. You are doing awesome work!
How did you decide which titles to purchase? Which titles are the most popular among your students? What funding sources do you recommend for purchasing books?
Have you collected any data on the impact of your work?
Becoming a More Equitable Math Educator | STEM Teacher Leadership Network (stemtlnet.org)
Liza, Thank you for your…
Thank you for your thoughtful questions. I was lucky that our County sent us three books for Grades 3 - 5. We received multiple copies and I didn't want them to land on classroom shelves without discussion. From there, I started searching for ideas and literature to use. I have written grants and our principal uses money from our magnet budget to purchase the books. I was also very luck that our Department of Fair Housing and Equity reached out to us to share read alouds and have discussions. It's pretty amazing to listen to elementary students disucss red lining. One of the books that has proven to be very popular and has spurred much discussion is "Brick by Brick". It is about the building of the White House and that enslaved people built the White House. The ability of fourth grade students to have courageous conversations about how they felt and what they wanted to happen was so inspiring. Students decided they wanted to share the history of the White House with our school community. They created a White House of cubes and put enslaved people's names on the cubes. The names were obtained from the manifests of slave ships. Students then shared that they felt their journeys are not over. They created windows in WIXIE of changes that they felt should still happen. Please let me know if you want a list of the books that I have used so far and consider joining the Facebook page...STEAM Educators Striving for Equity. It is a format for sharing.
Incredible model for literacy in STEM
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Huffman High School: Empowering STEM Educational Leaders
Candyce A. Curry
In reply to Incredible model for literacy in STEM by CANDYCE CURRY
Literature for Equity
Thank you so much. This has been an amazing journey for me. It is so wonderful to see our students share their voices and thoughts about their place in our classrooms, our school communities, and society. It has been so empowering!
Dear Liza, Thank you for…
Thank you for your thoughtful questions. Some of the titles were sent to us by our County in bulk for classroom libraries. I didn't want these books to go on shelves without some thoughtful discussion and work. I then researched other titles and resources to meet the needs of oru school population and to be more inclusive. Books were paid for through grant money and by our principal through the use of Magnet money. It's hard to pick a favorite book or lesson. One book that I used with my fourth grade students, "Brick by Brick" led to amazing discussion and reflection from our students. The book is about the building of the White House and how enslaved people were the labor for the building. Students shared their feelings about this. These feelings included anger and outrage. The students thought it was important to share this information with our school community. They determined to build a replica of the White House using cubes they made from nets. They wrote slaves' names on the cubes. These names were obtained from the manifests of slave ships. Students then stated that they also wanted to share message of change still needed. They decided to create windows for the White House on WIXIE with these messages. Again, this is just one example of the rich discussion that ensures when the children are given the opportunity. Please consider joining the Facebook page, STEAM Educators Striving for Equity. This is a forum to share literature and lessons with the goal of equity in mind.
Access to STEM
Thank you for sharing your video. What you bring up is exactly why created the literacy program at my school. It is about creating access for our students of color to enter STEM fields and give them opportunities to see themselves in these careers. And it comes down to access to language and also to opportunities that provide rich experiences to for students. 100kin10 did a longitudinal study on the very things your students brought up. If you have a chance take a look at the link. It is very powerful:
I was fortunate to have served on their unCommission. It was a powerful experience as an educator trying to bring access to underrepresented groups.
In reply to Access to STEM by Jose Rivas
The work you are doing is so inspiring and essential to create equity in STEM education.
Other Book Ideas
Thanks, Florence for sharing your work! I agree that books is a great start to start and you have a wonderful collection of books. I've begun to explore children's literature as well with my Food-Pantry At Home STEM kits. Some additional books to explore for your collection:
In reply to Other Book Ideas by Elegan Kramer
Other Book Ideas
Thank you so much for the book ideas I have not heard of Drum Dream Girl, but have used the other two books. Please consider joining the FB group I created, STEAM Educators Striving for Equity so you can continue to share your amazing ideas.
I love how you’re working on equity in STEM and bringing in the literacy components to reflect your student population.
I think you’d appreciate these free resources below for your site.
Free Digital copies of the books (In English and Spanish) are at the following link.
NGSS aligned Lesson Plans (in English and Spanish) for each book and the corresponding and Scientist Interview videos are at this link:
In reply to Book ideas by Dieuwertje Kast
Thank you so much for these resources. The digital copies are so wonderful. Please consider joining the FB group I created, STEAM Educators Striving for Equity so you can continue in the sharing of ideas.
Keep up the Great Work
Hi Flo - Just wanted to say that it's great that you have really dug into the data and that you also have provided students opportunities chances to see themselves in books. I am curious how you have seen this translate to their viewpoints on STEM in particular. I also wondered if when considering STEM careers if you or your students saw being a math or science teacher as a STEM career. That is an area that I feel is so important but we often miss.
Thanks for sharing such a great video.
In reply to Keep up the Great Work by John Seelke
Keep Up the Great Work
Hi John - I am definitely seeing a shift in students' viewpoints towards STEM and their confidence in identifying problems, suggesting solutions, and exploring these solutions. When their initial projects sometimes don't work, I am not seeing the defeat that I used to see. I am seeing more perseverance. I agree with you about math and science teachers. I often share with them my own journey in math, especially my struggles as a young student. I was told by teachers that I was just not a math person at a very young age. I also am sure to have math and science teachers at our fifth grade career day.
Thank you for sharing how you are creating a culture where scholars can see themselves in STEM careers and STEM as part of them and their future. If they can see it they can believe it!!!!!! Keep up the great work.
In reply to The Mirror by Ruth Ray, M.Ed.
Thank you for your kind words. I agree with you wholeheartedly - that mirror is so important. I continue to search for books and role models that show these mirrors and windows.
You are the Change
As always great work Flo! Getting students to see themselves in STEM and STEM careers is so important and you are doing that everyday!
In reply to You are the Change by Jennifer Donais
You are the Change
Jenn, We are all in this together to help STEM grow in our schools and in our children's lives. Thank you for all you do!
I am so glad you asked the STUDENTS
Hi there, Flo!
Just a note that I am so glad you asked students -- that's what started the journey I describe in my video for this showcase, and it's made a tremendous difference in my classroom. Even very young students make excellent thinking partners for their teachers in improving STEM and STEM education!
I'm curious about how you've been incorporating the second parameter, "I want a choice," into your STEM education work with your students. What are some recent choices your students have made?
I'm not on Facebook but am glad you've created a community for educators to connect. The work is too important to do alone!
Thanks again for this snapshot of your work,
In reply to I am so glad you asked the STUDENTS by Kirstin Milks
Voice and Choice
It is so true that our students are our partners in the education process, especially in STEM education. The idea of choice has varied in my classroom from choosing a problem/topic they want to research and try to solve, choosing as a class or as individual/groups how they want to demonstrate their solution, and then choosing how they want to present their solution. We just finished reading Julian is a Mermaid in fifth grade. The students identified what they felt the main theme/message was from the book. They came up with be yourself and acceptance. Students then had a choice of working individually in pairs or small groups to demonstrate the message.They then choose how they wanted to convey their understanding. Some students are doing SCRATCH coding activities while others are building models of the Mermaid Parade on Coney Island. They are all demonstrating creativity and critical thinking with the ones in groups demonstrating collaboration.
Bravo on this! I am…
Bravo on this! I am definitely going to share this with my AIS Reading teacher here at the New Hartford Central School District here in central NY. She does many of the same strategies you have shown in this video. There is strength in numbers!
It is so very important for all children to see versionm of temselves in STEM and STEAM careers. Keep doing what you do!
In reply to Bravo on this! I am… by Kathleen Donovan
Bravo on this!
Thank you fo ryoru vote of confidence. As you share this with your AIS reading teacher, please share the FB group I created. It is my hope that it becomes a place of sharing resources and lessons. The FB is STEAM Educators Striving for Equity. I'd love to talk with her.
Voice! Choice! Mirror! and STEM engineering design resource
Flo- I like how you began with data and sought ways to begin to change the narrative using literature! I viewed the video a couple of times to see how many of the titles I have! I wondered if you’ve done any multigenerational work, looking at how student families do day to day science. What types of community resources have you been able to utilize?
Stem through Literature
In reply to Voice! Choice! Mirror! and STEM engineering design resource by Wanda Bryant
Wanda, Thank you for…
Thank you for your message. The data truly made me stand up and take notice of my teaching practices. I am constantly adding to my literature base and would appreciate any suggestions that you have. I love the idea of multigenerational work and will definitely pursue the idea. I've been very lucky to have family and former student resources. When we were virtual during COVID, I reached out via social media to my former students to ask if anyone could do a virtual Career Day with our fifth-grade students. The response was overwhelming. The alumni not only shared their journeys but also shared their "why", whether it was advocacy for stopping gender bias, veteran's outreach, to stopping racial injustice. My students sure picked up and listened to these former students. We have a parent that works for the Fair Housing Authority and she and I have worked together to match her staff with our classrooms. We also work with our local university - a wonderful source!