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Why STEM is the perfect fit in a Trauma Supportive Classroom!

Updated: Sep 23, 2020

Do you have trauma affected students in your classroom? Chances are, that’s a yes...even if you don’t know for sure! Do you use STEM activities with your students? I hope that’s a yes, because STEM activities provide so many amazing opportunities for students of all abilities.

To be honest, I didn’t harness the power of STEM activities in my classroom for a long time. I couldn’t fully grasp the concept and I wasn’t sure where they fit in. As I continued learning about STEM and where I could implement the concepts, I started to love them!

You see, STEM encompasses everything we love about education:

  • Interdisciplinary teaching

  • Collaboration

  • Inventiveness

  • Risk-taking

  • Creativity

Teachers are always looking for lessons that get the wheels turning in our students’ minds. As well as activities that encourage students to be curious and cement the learning.

In a trauma informed classroom, STEM activities take all of the things we love about education and hits even more targets! For trauma affected students, education must include more than state standards. Learning must be holistic and inclusive! With trauma informed STEM, students receive:

  • Choice

  • Differentiation

  • Resilience

  • Executive functioning

  • Social skill building

So, let’s talk about these skills!

Incorporating STEM activities allow you to offer choice to students. Trauma affected students need safe opportunities to assert control over their environment. Students can choose materials and how they use them in a STEM project.

Trauma affected students may also require various levels of academic support. STEM is naturally differentiated to include scaffolding skills for planning and reflection! Differences in presentation, materials, questioning, criteria, etc. all support a student's individual abilities and levels!

Resilience. We aim to teach our students how to problem solve and keep going. STEM fosters resiliency through failure, reassessment, and risk-taking. Lessons that include STEM activities will naturally have all leveled students making mistakes, having plans fail, and showcasing the power in courage.

The same skills that support all academic lessons, support STEM, as well. Students with trauma can have difficulties with executive functioning skills, but when we systematically teach these skills and embed them into our lessons, they build this muscle!

Have I mentioned social skills, yet? No? Oh. Well, here we go! So many students with trauma backgrounds have limited social skills. Building in organic opportunities for social interactions is exactly what STEM does! Students work in teams toward a common goal. They must discuss and plan together. Even if students work solo, you can ask students to critique their peers’ structures.

Best of all...STEM is fun!

Give your students a fun way to integrate core academics with a twist! Plus the added bonus of truly creating positive learning outcomes for students with trauma histories.

I’d love to hear your favorite STEM activities and what you’re excited to try for the coming year!

If you need a place to get you started...Check out this awesome project Meg, from Browne's Bunch of Stem, and I created with all of these targets in mind! This comprehensive project will support your students every step of the way. Plus, it’s fully planned out and organized for you to print, or upload, and go!

Whether we’re digital, physical, or some interesting hybrid of both, you’ve got everything you need!

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