Fostering Essential Skills in K-12 Learners
As an elementary STEM Coordinator, I support the implementation of my school district’s STEM By Design model across content areas and in our school’s makerspace. While I have a clear framework for defining STEM teaching and learning in my building, I often struggle to collect data that truly shows the impact of STEM education on students.
Enter stage right: Colorado Essential Skills Rubrics
The Colorado Academic Standards require the following essential skills: Creativity and innovation, critical-thinking and problem-solving, communication and collaboration, social and cultural awareness, civic engagement, initiative and self-direction, flexibility, productivity and accountability, character and leadership, and the ability to find, evaluate, create and communicate information. When I think about the traits needed to be a lifelong learner, success employee, and well-adapted human, every single one of these skills comes to mind.
I use these rubrics as a reflection tool with elementary students. We choose one area of focus that we work on for each lesson. At the end of class, students have the opportunity to reflect on their learning and rate their progress. I would love to see teachers use these rubrics in the classroom (#2020 goals!) to support year long goal setting. These rubrics provide opportunities for growth and feedback. Assessment through the lens of the essential skills allows students to see themselves as more than just a test score.
If teachers in the younger grades begin building the vocabulary and self-awareness around essential skills, imagine the rich conversations that could happen in middle school, high school, and beyond!