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STREAM Executive Summary


Science - Technology - Reading - Engineering - Arts - Math                  

Executive Summary

The Pleasant Valley School District is deeply committed to ensuring each student receives a world class education that will adequately prepare them to compete successfully in the ever changing, global economy. To ensure these words live and breathe through effective and student-centered instructional programming and delivery, our district leadership, in partnership with building administration, teachers and school community stakeholders are poised to create a STEM based learning model and environment for our students.

District leadership is acutely aware of the need for 21st Century Skills to be fully integrated into curriculum, instruction and assessment practices. Doing so will require the school community to examine and explore the district’s current approach to Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics. Therefore, the Pleasant Valley School District is taking the necessary steps to develop and implement a STEM/STEAM Alignment Plan that identifies:

  • Current best practices, strategies and strengths of STEM/STEAM education
  • Challenges to district-wide alignment and implementation of best practices and strategies
  • Responsible, yet creative fiduciary planning and responsibility
  • Actions necessary to advance STEM/STEAM learning opportunities

Key Successes

  • Commitment of District Leadership and the Pleasant Valley School Board to support STEM/STEAM, PLTW programming and the incorporation of the engineering design process into the education of all students.
  • Commitment of District Leadership to develop a STEM/STEAM, PLTW K-12 Aligned Action Plan charting the course and actions necessary to fully integrate STEAM education in the Pleasant Valley Schools.
  • Commitment of District Leadership to developing and implementing a rigorous and robust instructional program accessible for all students.
  • Interest, knowledge and motivation of District Teachers to support STEM/STEAM, PLTW accessibility for all students.
  • Commitment by District Stakeholders to increase 21st Century Skills for all students.
  • Continue the commitment to STEM/STEAM programs already in place including, but not limited to: (PVE) Ozobots, BeeBots and Osmos Kits to support the acquisition of number sense and geometry, Sphero, Dash and Dot and LEGO Robot Kits, (PVHS) Vex Robotics, Robotics 1 Course expanding to Robotics 2 during the 2019-2020 school year, AP Computer Science Principles and Computer Programming 1, 2, 3.     

Key Challenges

  • The District has not yet defined a clear vision and mission/purpose of its STEM/STEAM, PLTW focus. This challenge is currently being undertaken by the newly formed STEM/STEAM Alignment Team comprised of key stakeholders from each district building.
  • There will be a need for targeted professional development to train and support teachers in STEM/STEAM-based instruction as well as opportunities for peer observation, professional dialogue and discourse and collaboration.
  • Budgetary limitations are an underlying concern.


(See Action Plan Document)

  • Amass K-12 STEM/STEAM, PLTW Alignment Team.
  • Create Vision and Mission/Purpose Statement and communicate to all learning community stakeholders.
  • Repurpose Monthly Faculty Meeting Time for teacher directed collaboration, (horizontal, vertical and between buildings, curriculum development, sharing of best practices, projects, resources and professional development.
  • Provide teachers with facilitated professional development utilizing the Next Generation Science Standards.
    • Integration of core content, related arts and the eight science and engineering practices within the Next Generation Science Standards, (NGSS)
    • Begin cross-pollination of core content and the NGSS
    • Attention to progressions of learning across years to effectively sequence instruction over time and grade levels
    • Cross-cutting concepts as defined within the NGSS and connections to math and literacy standards, particularly as it is represented in the science and engineering practices
    • Integration of the engineering design process with the traditional sciences
    • Integration of newly acquired technologies and knowledge
  • Provide for instructional coaching opportunities that support teachers to plan and deliver more student-centered, technology-enhanced STEM/STEAM instruction increasing rigor and relevance in classrooms.
  • Provide curriculum development and writing time to include Big Ideas, Essential Questions that aligned to standards. The result will be cogent classroom units and lessons that include objectives, activities and assessment methodology.
  • Establish STEM/STEAM, PLTW mentorship programs in alignment with Career Readiness standards and graduation requirements.
  • Establish partnerships and relationships with engineering related businesses and community members.
  • Establish school events around STEM/STEAM, PLTW challenges to present to the community enhancing the value of STEM/STEAM, PLTW programming, increase student participation and secure business and community support.


To meet the challenges and opportunities for success in college and the workplace, our students require an alternative educational environment capable of reaching beyond the school house walls. In preparation to meet these challenges, the Pleasant Valley School District must provide rigorous, relevant academic preparation for all students. To support our students in achieving these goals, PV must courageously look to expansion of instructional practices and procedures. The following topics are based on STEAM best practices from national research. These best practices are adaptable to all K-12 grade levels.

Inquiry-Based Learning

Inquiry learning involves several steps:

  • Developing questions
  • Making observations
  • Doing research
  • Developing methods for experiments
  • Developing instruments for data collection
  • Collecting, analyzing and interpreting data
  • Outlining possible explanations
  • Creating predictions for future study

Some ways to increase inquiry-based learning for students include:

  • Creating questions on their own
  • Obtaining supporting evidence to answer questions
  • Explaining the evidence collected
  • Connecting the explanation to the knowledge obtained from the investigative process
  • Creating and argument and justification for the explanation
  • Using authentic resources from STEAM careers will strengthen the connection for students

Cross-Curricular Application

In an effort to promote collaboration and interdisciplinary thinking, the Pleasant Valley School District will support a movement to peer planning and teaching.

Following, are three ways teachers can increase peer collaboration.

Aligned Collaboration – An example of aligned collaboration is when a Social Studies and an English department agree to plan that assignments in both subjects can count for credits in both content areas. The two departments then plan the year/course so that topics of study in those subjects are taught concurrently. This practice enables students to access and understand content at deeper levels due to multiple opportunities for real world connection.

Cooperative Collaboration – An example of cooperative collaboration is when a math and science teacher meet and decide on the best way and time to teach motion. (They also agree to help each other teach it.) When the math teacher needs real world examples of how mathematics practice applies, the science teacher provides models to demonstrate the concepts. As students in science class perform mathematical calculations, the teacher should use the same teaching language and steps that are used in the math class. This practice enables students to understand that math and science are not isolated subjects that apply in one classroom or the other. The subjects interconnect in ways that allow students to apply their knowledge and learning to real world situations.

Conceptual Collaboration – The difficulty with this form of collaboration is that one teacher needs to have deep knowledge in other content areas. This can be problematic as it requires one teacher to know two subjects. A possible solution for this would be to have teachers team-teach certain topics or units. For example, an art teacher and a science teacher plan and teach a unit on color. Both teachers would share responsibility for student understanding of why colors and pigments react in predictable ways based on science of wavelengths.  

Project-Based Learning

Project-Based learning calls upon students to solve a real world, complex task over an extended period of time. Some elements found in Project-Based Learning lessons are:   

  • Key Knowledge – The project is focused on student learning goals, including standards-based content and skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, creativity and collaboration. These skills must be modeled and taught at the outset of the project.
  • Challenging Problem – Students are presented with an important problem to solve or a question to answer. Questions and challenges should be at an appropriate level for the students.
  • Sustained inquiry – Students engage in a rigorous, comprehensive process of asking questions, finding resources and applying information.
  • Authenticity - The project features real-world context, tasks and tools, quality standards or community or global impact. Projects may also be engaged in based on student interests and choices.
  • Student Voice and Choice – Students make some decisions about the project, including how they work and what they create.
  • Critique and Revision – Using a rubric or other formative assessment, students give, receive and use feedback to refine their products.
  • Reflection – Students and teachers reflect on learning, the quality of the work, the basis for the project and any difficulties that the student encounters and ways to overcome them.
  • Public Product – Projects are presented in an arena outside of the classroom environment to demonstrate student learning and increase collaboration with community resources.

Assessment of Student Learning

The shift to the STEM/STEAM educational philosophy warrants not only a shift in instructional practice but also in assessment practices as well. Therefore, assessment should move away from traditional assessments such as benchmark and standardized testing to a more authentic form of student learning including, but not limited to:

  • Observation
  • Essays
  • Interviews
  • Performance Tasks
  • Exhibitions and demonstrations
  • Portfolios
  • Teacher created tests
  • Rubrics
  • Self and peer evaluation

These types of assessments give students advice on how well they understand the concepts for learning and where they might need improvement. Authentic assessments also allow teachers instant feedback on where they need to adjust instruction and how to plan future learning opportunities for students.


To support the implementation of a STEM/STEAM focused curriculum, the Pleasant Valley School District will take into account the ways teachers will need to refine their instructional styles. Teachers will need to become more facilitators of learning rather than the source of information. In order to achieve this shift as teachers, the way in which they interact with their colleagues will need to be adapted through professional development opportunities that will allow them to be:

  • Active – Engage teachers in practicing concrete tasks related to teaching, assessment and observation of learning.
  • Collaborative – Include time for teachers to share ideas and practices.
  • Learner-centered – Draw upon teachers’ questions, inquiry and experiences.
  • Student-centered – Build on teachers’ current work with students.
  • Relevant – Address problems teachers experience in their classrooms.
  • Content-specific – Develop teachers’ knowledge and capacity to teach specific subject matter.
  • Pedagogy-focused – Provide modeling, coaching and problem-solving around specific areas of practice.
  • Appropriately Structured – Plan a sufficient amount of time for teachers to participate in the process of their own professional development.

References Deeper Learning Why Cross-curricular Teaching is Essential. Ben Johnson What is Project-Based Learning What are some types of assessments

Considerations for Teaching Integrated STEM Education-journal of Pre College Engineering Research Vol.2 Issue 1 Article 4 2012 by M. Stohlmann, T. Moore, G. Roehig

Going from STE to STEAM-The Arts have a Role in America’s Future Too-Education Week March 9, 2010, J. Piro

Successful K-12 STEM Education: Identifying Effective Approaches in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, National Research Council of the National Academies, 2011 ISBN 978-0-309-21296-0

Best Practices in Elementary STEM Programs-Hanover Research March 2012,

FEDERAL SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING, AND MATHEMATICS (STEM) EDUCATION 5-YEAR STRATEGIC PLAN – A Report from the Committee on STEM Education National Science and Technology Council, May 2013 Atlanta International School-Mathematics Strategic Plan 2011-16