ST1.6: The interdisciplinary problem-based curriculum includes a focus on real world applications.

Self Assessment Rating 4      

Bates curriculum integrates problem-based learning in all of our courses. We promote cross-cutting competencies or “STEM Mindedness” through the incorporation of critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity in all classes in support of the Profile of the SC Graduate and the South Carolina Academic Standards. The South Carolina State Academic Standards include inquiry standards for ELA, Social Studies, and Science and process standards for Math. Each core subject’s curriculum is mapped on the web based program MasteryConnect for all teachers. Interdisciplinary connections and the focus on real-world application makes learning meaningful to our students. We have added elective classes, such as Financial Literacy and Project Lead the Way courses, that create additional opportunities for authentic learning. Every 8th grade student receives instruction in physics from our visiting USC- Sumter professor, Dr. Chang. Classes integrate authentic problem based scenarios such as in our 6th grade math students complete a “Labor Day Cookout “ project each year to make real life connections in their study of decimal operations. This project integrates Math, ELA, Social Studies and Technology in an authentic problem based scenario.

We aim to have two grade and/or school level Project Based Learning projects per year. These units allow all of our students to make connections across disciplines and focus on real world applications. We also have two school-wide STEM Days per year to ensure all students continue to be engaged in STEM processes and practices. It is a priority of Bates Middle School to ensure that all of our students have opportunities to engage in learning experiences that go beyond our physical walls. We utilize virtual field trips during the school day to help accomplish this as well as physical field studies and experiences.

Our strength in this area is our continued collaboration to ensure we are providing a focus on real-world applications, providing multiple interdisciplinary and authentic problem‐based learning experiences. We are continually reevaluating our programs and making improvements. Recently, we changed our embedded STEM days to focus on a real-world problem instead of problem based scenarios to enforce the engineering design process. We recognized that are feeder schools are now incorporating these activities and we needed to go deeper into relevant, local, real-world problems. Our most recent STEM Day focused on the essential question: “Would banning plastic bottles help or hurt the planet?” Our goal is to incorporate more real-world interdisciplinary units of an ongoing nature.