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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Engineering and Bridge Design Integrated STEM Unit

This unit of study is sure to engage your students and check off multiple Common Core State Standards and learning targets. But don't just take my word for it, check out all that is included yourself!
Engineering and Bridge Design Integrated Language Arts STEM Unit
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     I just recently finished teaching this unit with my students, and the activities that are included are everything you will need to incorporate the study of bridges into Language Arts, Science, English Language Development, and Writing. This unit is intended to take four weeks to teach, but if you have more time it can easily take longer. 

Language Arts

    As the students participate in this unit, they will be learning about scientific principles and the jobs of engineers. In order to do this, there are two different (two page) non-fiction close reading passages. Each passage is written at three different Lexile levels for easy differentiation in your class. Along with the passages, students are given directions to annotate the text and given multiple opportunities to discuss it with their classmates. This is intended to build careful and conscious readers.
  Following each reading, the students are given questions that specifically correlate to Common Core standards in the areas of key ideas and details, craft and structure, and integration of ideas and knowledge. They then finish this process with an opportunity to write a response that requires them to cite evidence from the text and incorporate that information into their answer. These reading passages allow for easy assessment of each student's understanding of the standards, as they are each clearly marked, and answers are provided for easy grading by the teacher. 

      
                                 

Science: Engineering and Design

     This whole unit is based around the engineering and design standards that will have students designing, creating, and testing a straw bridge at the end of the unit. Students will work with a partner to earn "Bridge Bucks" in order to purchase the supplies they will need to create their bridge. This classroom economy is key to the process, and acts as a great behavior system as well. Students will also draw a blueprint, create a budget, and then create their bridge. This whole process is highly engaging and they will learn great lessons about bridge design, perseverance, teamwork, and how to deal with failure.

English Language Development

     When studying something as content specific as bridges and engineering, academic language is always a concern. For this reason English Language Development (ELD) lessons are incorporated into this unit for all students, but especially aimed toward second language learners. 
     There are 20 vocabulary words with definitions and pictures included for initial teaching of bridge vocabulary. Following that, there are ideas for interactive games that get the students up and moving using TPR (Total Physical Response) to help connect movements and meanings to the words. Students will also work to create bridge chants from a larger bank of bridge nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, and prepositions. These activities are sure to boost your students' academic language while incorporating content at the same time. (Because let's be honest, we all know we are short on time these days!)

                       

Writing

   The dreaded research report can always be a challenge to get students excited about, however this research report will have students wide-eyed and asking for more! Everything is included in this unit for students to complete a research paper on a world famous bridge. Many of the bridges included on the list have very distinctive features that keep kids interested and enthusiastic about their research.
   In this unit you are provided with a list of bridges for students to choose from, research questions, an outline for a rough draft, directions to introduce students to citing their sources, and a grading rubric for the final draft. This research paper addresses the CCSS W.2 and W.7-9.                                                      


I would love to hear how this unit goes over in your classroom, so leave your comments or feedback below!